Linda Blade, a former swimmer and sports performance coach, has responded to support for Lia Thomas, a “transgender woman” who is competing against female athletes.
“Until a non-binary solution is developed for sports eligibility, this ‘Open’ and ‘Female’ system will ensure that any competitor with a novel identity claim (and there will be more) does not bring with him or her a competitive advantage,” Blade wrote in an oped in Swimming World.
Lucas Draper, a junior-year swimmer at Oberlin College, wrote an earlier oped in Swimming World defending Thomas, which Blade said “rang hollow” and “missed [the] point of controversy.”
Draper, who is a “transgender man,” claims in the oped that Thomas “is a woman” and “she uses she/her pronouns, and any reference to her otherwise is offensive.”
— Linda Blade (@coachblade) January 12, 2022
First, Blade praises Draper for competing against men instead of continuing to compete as a woman “while doping,” referring to hormone treatments. But Draper’s comments “deploy escalating levels of emotional gaslighting.”
Blade broke down her response into five points:
- Draper’s claim that Thomas should be treated with “basic human decency. “Female athletes are equally deserving of respect and decency,” Blade said.
- Draper claims transgender women would not compete just to have an edge over competitors. “We don’t select sports teams or eligibility based upon someone’s internal motivation,” Blade said. Rules should reflect “physical reality.”
- Draper said Thomas should be compete “as who she is.” “Participation in sports necessarily involves restrictions,” Blade said. It can never be an open forum where competitors are allowed to join based upon subjective preference.”
- Draper should not make an appeal to victimhood while victimizing others. “Scrutiny by officials and the public is part of sports. It is not being ‘mean.’”
- Drapers and others are trying to “shut down debate” by putting labels on transgender women athletes such as pronouns. “Gender ideologues are the ones who profess that usage of pronouns operates independently of the two biological sexes. If so, then a pronoun now operates much in the same way as other kinds of identities – such as, ‘I am a Democrat’ or ‘I am Muslim.'” Would we ever select someone for a sports competition based upon their religion?”
Blade calls on the NCAA to revisit its 2011 rules that allow sports participation based on gender identity not biological sex.
“Given the overwhelming scientific evidence now available showing that males will always maintain a physical advantage over females in sports involving strength, speed, power and reaction time, the NCAA must undertake a re-assessment of its policy ASAP!”
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter