Men returning women to sidelines of sports

Caitlyn Jenner reacts to new NCAA transgender policy: ‘Woke world gone wild’

Former Olympian tells ‘America Reports’ the NCAA only ‘kicked the can down the road’ with its new policy.

Long before I was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, I was a high school girl swimmer who yearned for the ability to compete interscholastically.  

I had witnessed the energy of spectators cheering for swim teams comprised exclusively of male athletes and longed for the ability to partake in such an experience. High schools in Illinois didn’t offer that opportunity to young women in those days. 

Sandra Bucha competing in a marathon swim across Lac St. Jean in Canada in 1974.

In 1972, the American Civil Liberties Union represented me in a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, arguing that, if there were no girls’ team at a school, a girl should be allowed to compete for a spot on the boys’ team. In the district judge’s ruling against us, he agreed that separate teams for girls should exist but also found that allowing girls on boys’ teams wouldn’t be fair due to the glaring biological differences between the sexes. 

Then Congress enacted Title IX, a law that prohibits sex discrimination by schools that receive federal money. Suddenly, women’s athletic teams and leagues were popping up everywhere, offering all kinds of opportunities for female athletes to train and compete, win awards, and secure scholarships. It was a whole new world. 

But now, nearly half a century later, a new generation of women and girls are facing the same challenges I did, only with a twist: They are losing their best athletic opportunities to men who identify as women. 
You’ve probably heard the stories, seen the videos. If your daughter, granddaughter or niece hasn’t been impacted yet, she almost certainly soon will be.  

John Kinsella and Sandra Bucha after coming in first in the La Toque 24 hour race across Lac St. Jean in Canada in 1973.

Some male athletes are pressing hard for what they see as their best opportunity for athletic success even if that means eliminating a level playing field for women … even if that means potentially taking scholarships, chances to compete, and places on the medal stand from women … even if it means female athletes’ years of time, effort and sacrifices go for nothing. 

Suddenly, it’s 1968 again, with more and more women athletes finding themselves back on the bench, cheering on males. Or pretending to do so.  

Only a few athletic organizations are in a position to protect women athletes and ensure fair competition – and nearly all of them are dropping the ball.  

The International Olympic Committee has already cleared the path for men to compete in women’s sports. And now the National Collegiate Athletic Association has passed the buck to other national and international governing bodies, letting each body, like USA Swimming, decide the rules for itself. 

Sandra Bucha after winning in the marathon swim competition across Lac St. Jean in Canada in the La Toque 24 hour race in Canada in 1973.

All of this means the two organizations with the most authority, and who should have the greatest interest in supporting women’s sports, have just washed their hands of the responsibility and thrown in the towel. Suddenly, it’s 1968 again, with more and more women athletes finding themselves back on the bench, cheering on males. Or pretending to do so. 

These organizations, including the ACLU, have now abandoned biological women. They have decided women’s rights and a level playing field aren’t as important as transgender politics. 

They don’t realize the message they are sending to millions of Americans – especially the girls and young women athletes who are missing out on their short window of opportunity – is not that “transgenders are people, too.” No, the message being communicated is “women don’t matter.” Their dreams aren’t as important as those of men. 

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers after competing in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

This message is being communicated so clearly – and resented so deeply – that transgender athletes, like Lia Thomas at the University of Pennsylvania, can barely raise a cheer from swimming fans, even while breaking all kinds of records. 

If the woke ideologues aren’t on the side of women, science is. The groups that oversee women’s athletics are having to ignore a lot of physical reality to justify these unbalanced competitions. As the judge in my case observed, males have greater lung capacity, muscle mass, bone structure, and even arm length than females. No amount of testosterone suppression can change these facts. 
It’s been decades since I was a competitive swimmer, but I still remember what it was like to be sidelined by a society that valued the rights of boys more than those of girls like me. And I remember how victorious so many of us felt, back in 1972, when everything – finally – changed. 

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