Little sister's YMCA protest compelled big sister to join NCAA lawsuit

Little sister's YMCA protest compelled big sister to join NCAA lawsuit

Abbigail Wheeler

Little sister's YMCA protest compelled big sister to join NCAA lawsuit

A female athlete who joined a lawsuit to fight the NCAA and its transgender-approving policies says she did so because time has run out for colleges and universities, and the YMCA, to recognize the worth and dignity of real women.

A small army of female athletes, 16 of them in all, signed on as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit filed March 14 in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The lawsuit alleges the NCAA and several universities named in the suit violated Title IX, the federal law passed in the 1970s to protect female athletes from discrimination, when they sided with male athletes who said they identify as females.

One of the most well-known names among the plaintiffs is Riley Gaines, the former University of Kentucky swimmer. She has become a vocal activist after publicly criticizing Will Thomas, a six foot-plus University of Pennsylvania swimmer who set new NCAA swim records and undressed in front of women in the locker room.

Another plaintiff is Kaitlynn Wheeler, who also swam for the University of Kentucky. She says the lawsuit is a  “huge step” to reclaiming women’s sports after the NCAA has repeatedly failed to do so.

“We waited two years,” she says, “but we waited this long to allow the NCAA every opportunity we could to make the right decision."

That is not to suggest the NCAA did not take action after the transgender movement invaded collegiate sports. In a 2022 story, AFN reported the NCAA was facing a hand-wringing dilemma over setting tougher testosterone guidelines for “transgender females,” meaning males. The collegiate body instead announced a sport-by-sport policy, which punted the issue to national sports groups, but it reversed that decision when guidelines set by USA Swimming would have disqualified Thomas from competing in the Division 1 championship.

Wheeler, Kaitlynn Wheeler

Wheeler says her determination to fight the transgender movement and stand up for women comes from her younger sister, Abigail. Abigail was a 16-year-old swimmer at her YMCA when she saw two men in the female locker room. She complained to her swim coach and to others only to be told to be quiet. 

"She was dismissed,” Kaitlynn says of her sister. “She was told that there was nothing they could do. They were aware of the situation but they couldn't do anything."

In protest, the teen girl hung posters that read “Women’s Rights” and “Biological Women Only" outside the locker room. 

"It was infuriating to me,” Kaitlynn says of that incident. “It was the pivotal point where I realized this isn't going away.”