The preferred sports metaphors differ according to taste and preference but a battle was waged in the hearing held by the House Oversight Committee’s sub-committee on Healthcare and Financial Services. On one side were female congresswomen, who used their time to defend the transgender movement, and on the other side were female athletes who have witnessed the harm perpetrated by that movement.
At issue is the proposal to reinvent Title IX, the landmark legislation enacted in 1972 to ensure equal opportunities for women’s sports.
Riley Gaines, the former University of Kentucky All-American swimmer, has become the face of the pro-women sports movement. She was forced to compete against Will Thomas, a male swimmer named "Lia" who swam for the women's team at the University of Pennsylvania.
"There's a place for everybody to play sports in this country," said Gaines, who noted that transgender Americans were included in her view. "But unsafe, unfair and discriminatory practices must stop. Inclusion cannot be prioritized over safety and fairness."
Gaines' testimony earned her a mention and a story on Fox News but it was her statement to a Democrat congresswoman, Rep. Summer Lee, that went viral and blew up social media.
"If my testimony makes me ‘transphobic,'" Gaines said, referring to Lee's previous comments, "then I believe your opening monologue makes you a misogynist."
The best sports analogy might be a spiked football for that not-so-subtle comment. It upset Lee enough that she sought to have Gaines’ remarks struck from the hearing’s official record. That attempt failed, however, which was much like a referee reviewing the play and ruling for a touchdown.
Rule makers ignored basic biology
With the rise of the transgender movement, biological males have impacted most women’s sports, from collegiate swimming to the Olympic games.
In Illinois, on Saturday, two men won first and second place (pictured at left) in the women's event for the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships, according to a Fox News story. One of the men has won 18 first-place titles in races dating back to 2017, the story said.
For one female athlete, Macy Petty, participating in sports meant travel volleyball as a high schooler. In her quest for a college scholarship, she was forced to play against a biological male in a tournament.
“When the rule makers ignored the basic biological differences, they ignored the fact that women’s volleyball nets are over seven inches shorter than men’s volleyball nets,” Petty told the "Washington Watch" program Tuesday.
“They allowed this male athlete to play on a net over seven inches shorter than he should have as well as so many biological advantages against us as female athletes," she recalled. "At this point in my life I was trying to compete in front of recruiters for an athletic and academic scholarship one day.”
What recruiters saw during the game was Petty’s male opponent combine his physical strength and a height advantage to spike the ball in her face.
“Among female athletes, nobody wants to go up to that court and wonder if they’re going to have to face the embarrassment of being stripped of their ability to play on a fair playing field because of somebody’s preference to play on a girls’ team instead of one with their biological sex,” she told show host Tony Perkins.
The Biden administration’s proposal was first introduced in the summer of 2022. The administration had already floated the idea of prohibiting public schools from implementing outright bans on biological males in girls’ sports, such as those passed in a number of right-leaning states.
“Something that’s been increasingly clear to me is that this is a spiritual battle. This is a war on the creation and the Creator Himself, an attack on what it means to be male and female,” said Petty, now a college volleyball player at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. “That’s something I’ve been exposed to more and more just in seeing the violence and hostility from the opposition. Thankfully, I’ve seen more people lean into the word of God and the confidence He can bring throughout the fight.”