This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX, the Richard Nixon-era policy designed to move toward more equitable treatment of the sexes in higher education. It should have been an unequivocally celebratory moment for advocates of women’s sports in America. Instead, the Title IX festivities were uncomfortable, newly complicated by the extremism of woke leftists, who are attempting to redefine what it means to be a woman.
The most prominent example of this over the past year has been Lia Thomas, whose performance as a biological male competing against biological females in NCAA swimming became a national story. Sports journalist Ethan Strauss summarized Thomas’s importance:
Lia Thomas, as you might remember, is a biological male who switched from the men’s team at Penn to the women’s and started setting records. We might refer to Thomas as an avatar and tentpole for the Thomas Movement, an effort by activists to erase the sex boundary in sports. Though much of the public is solidly against this sort of thing, Thomas had institutional support from the Ivy League and ACLU, among other activist organizations. While the Biden administration stayed mum on the Thomas situation specifically, it endorsed accepting transgender girls on girls’ sports teams while pushing for a federal Equality Act that would codify such a right.
It’s apt that the week of Title IX’s fiftieth began with a defense of womanhood. Thomas, who has Olympic ambitions, received a major setback when the world’s governing swimming body voted overwhelmingly to ban transgender athletes who had transitioned past the age of 12 from competing in women’s events, and instead to consider “open competition” events should enough demand exist. According to a spokesman for the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), the point was to acknowledge what everyone can see: that biological men competing against biological women have a distinct advantage:
“This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair,” James Pearce, who is the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.
“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”
The transgender athlete issue is a classic example of the cultural left leaning on the power they wield through media to assert the inevitability of their agenda. Despite the fact that Americans oppose such competition across the biological sexes, the narrative advanced via ESPN, Hollywood, and major media entities is that such a viewpoint is restrictive, bigoted, and just plain cruel. And can you believe FINA would do this during Pride?
While such “arc of history” inevitability campaigns have worked for the left in the past on other social issues, the miscalculation as applied to forcibly compelling high-level female athletes to compete in such an unfair reality is obvious. Those campaigns were about the actions of adults, not children or teens. If families or your daughter have invested time, resources, and effort working to excel at a competitive sport, having this success overruled on the cusp of college scholarships or Olympic competition is the sort of thing that drives a backlash.
By insisting there are no losers in this circumstance, the American cultural left is setting themselves up for a rude awakening, and in so doing, undermining any claim they have to the good aspects of Title IX. A left that has in two decades gone from being a force for feminism and free speech to insisting that womanhood has no definition and pronouns are violence is not a wise bet in the arc of history long game.