Democratic candidates for president try to appeal to an ideological audience that pays attention to early campaigns, but will that hurt the candidates in the longer term?
The NCAA crowned its first biologically male women’s track and field champion in late May. If Democrats in Congress have their way, it will become a far more frequent occurrence.
CeCe (formerly Craig) Telfer of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University won the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 25 in Kingsville, Texas. Telfer’s time of 57.53 seconds was more than a full second faster than that of his nearest competitor.
A peek at Franklin Pierce’s track and field website says nothing about Telfer competing as a man for his first three college seasons or about his accomplishments during those years. The press release touting the Ravens’ first NCAA individual champion in any sport says nothing about Telfer being transgender, either.
According to the website LetsRun.com, however, “Prior to joining [FPU’s] women’s team this season, Telfer was a mediocre D-II athlete who never came close to making it to nationals in the men’s category. In 2016 and 2017, Telfer ranked 200th and 390th, respectively, among D-II men” before sitting out the 2018 season.
If this narrative sounds eerily familiar, it should: Biologically male sprinter Terry Miller of Bloomfield High set a state record of 6.95 seconds in the girls’ 55 meters at Connecticut’s indoor track and field championships back in February. Miller also set meet records in the 100 and 200 at Connecticut’s outdoor championships last spring.
Like Telfer, Miller was nowhere near elite when competing against boys. After declaring himself a girl and competing as one, Miller became a champion. Unlike Miller, Telfer at least presumably underwent transitioning: The NCAA requires male athletes to suppress their testosterone levels for at least a year before they can compete as women. However, the NCAA does not have a set testosterone level that biological men competing as females cannot exceed.
This explains why, as Robert Johnson wrote for LetsRun.com, “The fact that Telfer can change [his] gender and immediately become a national champion is proof positive as to why women’s sports needs protection.”
That fact seems to be lost on Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives: In mid-May, they unanimously voted to pass the so-called Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to make “sexual orientation and gender identity” protected characteristics under federal law.
If enacted, the Equality Act would undermine protections established under Title IX, the federal law that ensures equal educational opportunities for girls and women in schools and colleges that receive federal funding. Since its passage in 1972, Title IX has greatly expanded athletic opportunities for girls and women.
Federal and state courts nationwide have held that segregating sports by sex is all but necessary to ensure that girls and women do receive equal opportunities in interscholastic athletics. Open competition with males, the courts recognized, would likely keep females on the sidelines as benchwarmers or spectators, thereby undermining Title IX’s purpose.
According to the NCAA’s transgender handbook, medical experts assert that the idea of biological male athletes having a competitive advantage over females “is not supported by evidence.” If it’s evidence the NCAA wants, it need look no further than track and field.
In an April 29 editorial for The Washington Post, former elite track athletes Doriane Coleman and Sanya Richards-Ross, along with LGBT tennis great Martina Navratilova, point out that high-school boys have consistently run faster than Olympic women’s champions. The disparity is even more pronounced in jumping events: The U.S. high-school record in the girls’ high jump is 6 feet, 4½ inches; in 2018, 50 boys in California alone jumped higher.
If such numbers won’t persuade lawmakers that letting biologically male athletes compete as women competitively disadvantages actual female athletes, it’s likely nothing will.