UNDER FURTHER REVIEW – Seeking a solution to the trans athlete issue

I’ve tried hard to keep politics out of this column, and I will continue to do so.

But as the parent of a daughter and grandparent of her two girls (who, thankfully, are young women now), I am compelled to add my view to the ongoing debate over transgender athletes and President Biden’s proposed changes to Title IX.

What a crock!

A 2022 report by the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute places the total number of transgender individuals in the United States at 1.6 million. That’s LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of the nation’s total population.

The same report puts the number of transgender teens (ages 13-17) at 300,000. That’s 1.4% of that population.

I don’t mean to diminish any minority group, but is the tail wagging the dog here?

By my rough calculations, the Liberal Left would corrupt female sports competition involving more than 10 million female teens in favor of upwards of 300,000 males who have decided they’d rather be female and treated as such.

The lightning rod in this controversy is University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who formerly was William “Will” Thomas.

Lia, who is 6-foot-3 and broad-shouldered, has broken several Penn women’s swimming records—once beating a teammate by 38 seconds in the 1,650-meter freestyle. (One of my granddaughters swam distance races in high school.)

Cynthia Millen, a USA Swimming official for three decades before she resigned to dramatize her disapproval of allowing a transgender swimmer (Thomas) to compete against biological females, succinctly articulated the issue recently:

“Boys will always have larger lung capacity, larger hearts, greater circulation, a bigger skeleton and less fat.  While Lia Thomas is a child of God, he is a biological male who is competing against women, and no matter how much testosterone suppression drugs he takes, he will always be a biological male and have the advantage.”

Miller didn’t mention another compelling fact. Lia, 22, has had the benefit of male puberty, which can extend to age 20 in some cases.

In justifying changes to Title IX—on the 50th anniversary of the landmark law that ordered equal opportunities and facilities for women’s sports, no less—one of Biden’s minions, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, declared:

“Our goal is to give full effect to the law’s reach and to deliver on its promise to protect all students from sex-based harassment and discrimination.”

That’s fine. But how does allowing biological males to compete with biological females “protect” the girls and women? (And how would Cardona feel if his own daughter, Celine, 15, was faring poorly against a trans athlete?)

The use of steroids and growth hormones is prohibited because they give the athletes who use them an unfair advantage. Yet suppressed levels of the testosterone that makes males stronger and faster is permissible even if it gives them an edge over females in sports competition.

I can’t help but think that Joe Biden is simply taking the position that he thinks will most help him—politically—with the Far Left, which now appears to be his base.

A strong leader’s position, in my experience and practice, is: Don’t come to me with just the problem. Bring me a possible solution, too. 

So, here’s something to think about.

For decades, horse racing has sought to equalize the relative abilities of entries in a given race by assigning different weights for the mounts to carry in the race, so that each has a roughly equal chance to run the same distance in a competitive length of time.

If transgender athletes are to be allowed to participate in timed sports, such as swimming and track, why not assign them time handicaps to level the pool or running track, so to speak?

How would such handicaps be determined? I don’t have the conclusive answer, but if baseball, for example, can come up with countless metrics to compare the performance and value of different players at the same position, someone can come up with an appropriate basis for handicapping transgender athletes going head-to-head with females.

A starting point might be to determine the difference between the male and female records in any given event and add those seconds and fraction to the finish time of the transgender swimmer or runner.

What about competition that isn’t timed?  There are other ways to establish a handicap or allowance.  In golf, for example, we have men’s tees and ladies’ tees.

In team sports, the first question to be answered is how many trans players may a team have? Is one male on a female volleyball or softball team enough to tip the scales against an all-female team? Two? Whatever, set a limit.

Perhaps the long-term answer is to create a third category of competition: Men’s, Women’s and Trans.

But that, of course, would require more trans athletes.

Denny Dressman is a veteran of 43 years in the newspaper business, including 25 at the Rocky Mountain News, where he began as executive sports editor. He is the author of 14 books, eight of them sports-related. You can write to Denny at dennydressman@comcast.net.