A group of women, including several former college athletes, gathered outside the NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday to protest the college sports authority’s rules allowing transgender women to compete against natural-born female athletes.
The group was led by former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, one of the few to openly protest against transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas without hiding behind anonymity as many others did at the time. Gaines competed against Thomas in the 2022 NCAA finals and felt it was unfair to allow Thomas, who was born a man, to overpower his female opponents and knock them out of place in the competition.
“Today, we intend to personally tell the NCAA to stop discriminating against female athletes by handing them a petition that we have garnered nearly 10,000 signatures on in just a couple of days,” Gaines said at Thursday’s protest, according to Yahoo News.
Other speakers at the rally included Marshi Smith, a former NCAA athlete and co-founder of the Independent Council on Women’s Sports. Smith spoke of a letter her group has sent to the NCAA demanding that the trans athlete rules be changed.
“To avoid legal action, the NCAA must comply with civil rights law immediately,” the letter states before adding the group’s conditions.
- Repealing all policies and rules that allow male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and/or compete in women’s events;
- Establishing and enforcing rules to keep women’s sports female;
- Requiring colleges to provide single-sex locker rooms for female athletes.
Compelling moment in #USA🇺🇸#sports.
Athletes @icons_women @KimJonesICONS @SmithMarshi @Hogshead3Au and others, lead by @Riley_Gaines_ , present #NCAA officials with petition & letter warning of legal action.
👉🏼The @NCAA is not above the law!#SaveWomensSports #Texas pic.twitter.com/8si61c1oCZ
— Linda Blade (@coachblade) January 12, 2023
Blake Allen, another speaker during the rally, said she was suspended from her high school for daring to speak out against her school’s decision to allow a boy to use the girl’s locker room because he claimed to be a transgender girl.
Female athlete Blake Allen protested a male being allowed to undress in her girls locker room and when she protested, the school stopped all of the girls from using the locker room. She’s fighting back as an @ADFLegal client. pic.twitter.com/FGUvIET84r
— Jonathan Saenz (@jonathansaenzTX) January 12, 2023
This is Blake Allen. As a mere sophomore in high school, Blake spoke up about a male who came into the girls’ locker room to stare at the girls.
SHE was suspended from school! Her dad Lost His Job! They were later overturned – but it is why we need our #SexBasedRights pic.twitter.com/FMz0pmh7iD
— Nancy Hogshead-Makar, JD, Oly (@Hogshead3Au) January 12, 2023
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christiana Kiefer also said the NCAA is violating the 1972 gender equity legislation, Title IX.
“So I think that could look like a federal lawsuit against the NCAA,” Kiefer said. “I think that could look like a Title IX complaint. And I think it could look like even universities starting to actually push back against the NCAA and saying, ‘Hey, we have a legal obligation to protect fair athletic opportunities for female athletes and if we fail to do that, you’re kind of binding our hands and not allowing us to fulfill our legal obligations to the female athletes at our schools.’”
For its part, the NCAA is defending its rule, claiming it wants a “fair environment” for transgender athletes.
“We want to have an environment that is fair, welcoming and inclusive for all of (the athletes),” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said during the convention. And NCAA director of inclusion Jean Merrill added, “They [the transgender athletes] are playing by the rules.”
Some members of the NCAA are also agitating to have the organization refuse to support schools in states that have banned transgender athletes from competing under their chosen gender categories. However, the NCAA has not yet taken a stance on that issue.
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