Over 300 Female Athletes Petition The NCAA To Support Idaho’s Transgender Sports Ban

Idaho was the first state to pass legislation that protected women’s sports from biological male participation, and now the ACLU is suing it.

By Jane Swift2 min read
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Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

March 30, 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” that recognized the “inherent differences between men and women” and legislated that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.” The act applies to all of Idaho’s interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, and club teams at both the high school and the college levels. 

ACLU Sues Idaho

Three weeks later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Idaho. The ACLU has also requested that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) boycott Idaho until the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” is repealed or changed to permit transgender men to compete in women’s sports. 

The ACLU has requested that the NCAA boycott Idaho until the Women’s Sports Act is repealed.

In response to the ACLU’s actions, over 300 professional, Olympic, and NCAA female athletes signed a letter sent to the NCAA’s board of governors on July 29, 2020, calling upon it to ignore the ACLU’s request to boycott Idaho.

Letter from Hundreds of Female Athletes in Support of “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act”

The letter points out that the gains women have achieved in sports thanks to Title IX will be undone by allowing biological males into their competitions: “Studies attest to the reality that comparably fit and trained male athletes have innate physiological advantages over females. Team USA sprinter Allyson Felix holds the most World Athletics Championship medals in history. Yet in 2018 alone, 275 high school boys ran faster times in the 400-meter on 783 occasions. Even the world’s best female Olympic athletes would lose to literally thousands of male athletes—including those who would be considered second tier in the men’s category—on any given day. Testosterone suppression does not undo these physiological advantages.”

Even the world’s best female Olympic athletes would lose to literally thousands of male athletes.

Felix has competed in four Olympic Games and has won six gold medals and three silver in field and track. She is the “undisputed queen of track.” And yet she is still slower than lower-ranking male athletes: “At the 2012 London Summer Games, Felix ran the 200 meters in 21.88 seconds, taking the gold. By comparison, South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana finished eighth in the men’s 200 meters with a time of 20.69, more than a second faster than Felix’s first-place time.” If someone who is literally at the top of her field would still lose to a biological male, imagine what would happen in high school sports?

Are the petitioning female athletes just transphobic? No. They’re simply concerned about the real-world consequences for their records and their careers should they have to compete against biological males: “We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to compete, but true athletic parity for women demands that women’s sports be protected for biological females. Protecting the integrity of women’s sports has, for decades, played an integral role in remedying past discrimination against women and empowering them to achieve their full athletic potential...We do not want to watch our athletic achievements be erased from the history books by individuals with all the inherent athletic advantages that come from a male body.”

Closing Thoughts

Before the passage of Title IX in 1972, only one in 27 girls played sports. By 2016, that number had increased to two out of every five girls. Unless society can find a way to resolve the women’s sports/transgender men issue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that statistic drop again.