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'Fairness Is Paramount': Swim Group Recommends Big Step to Protect Girls' Sports Amid Trans Debate

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The controversy over athletes with biologically male DNA competing in girls' sports is making new headlines. The hotly contested issue has led to 17 states banning trans athletes from participating in girls' sports based on their gender identity. Now, one major coaches association is calling for a "transgender division" to save women's and girls' sports. 

The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) is urging FINA, an international governing board for water sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee, to create a "Trans Division" due to men's physiological dominance over female athletes. 

'Competitive Fairness Cannot be Reconciled with Self-Identification'

In a position statement published on the WSCA website, the group tells the water sports board that the sport of swimming should be in an environment where everyone can participate and be treated with dignity and respect.

"However, the inclusion of transgender people into female sport cannot be balanced with fairness due to the retained differences in strength, stamina, and physique that are present when comparing the average female with the average transgender female/non-binary person who was assigned male at birth (whether with or without the involvement of testosterone suppression). This is the primary factor to be considered in an endeavor to balance fairness with inclusion," the statement begins. 

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"Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in a gender-affected sport such as swimming. The average differences in strength, stamina, and physique between the sexes is significant," the coaches point out.

"Transgender females are, on average, likely to retain physical advantages listed above even if testosterone suppression is utilized;  Categorization by sex is lawful, and hence the requirement to request information relating to birth sex is appropriate," the statement said. 

The coaches association points out that "inclusion" and "fairness" cannot co-exist under the current guidelines. 

"For the sport of swimming, the inclusion of transgender people on the grounds of fairness cannot co-exist in the current competitive model. Swimming should choose to offer competition in which the female category is protected for reasons of competitive fairness," the statement continued. 

'Trans Females Cannot Compete Fairly with Biological Females'

The WSCA noted that multiple athletic advantages and disadvantages are a concern when it comes to transgender athletes. 

"Trans females cannot compete fairly with biological females; however, providing them with the competition that is predominantly that of competing against biological males becomes unfair to the Trans female. It is the exact mirror image for the Trans Male. He has the same biologic disadvantage that the trans female has as an advantage. Yet forcing him onto a female's division would in many cases (and in the least) violate our doping rules," the statement continued. 

The coaches association suggests a solution – a Trans Division.

"One such solution is to create a Trans Division. The Trans Females will race each other. The Trans Males will race each other. There is an argument that the Trans Males have been completely lost in this debate because they are uncompetitive in our current structure. This would also allow those of indeterminate gender to be factored into such a solution," the statement said. 

'Fairness is Paramount'

The association also offers five considerations to the FINA governing board. At the top of the list – fairness. 

  • Fairness is paramount to all sports, including the sport of swimming;
  • The sport of swimming is gender affected and that manifests itself through the physical differences between males and females;
  • The sport of swimming rewards greater strength, stamina, and/or physique;
  • Sex categories within the sport of swimming exist to provide fairness and opportunity in competition;
  • Through a re-categorization process, the sport of swimming should offer an alternative competitive model which would ensure inclusion and fairness.

"For the sport of swimming, the inclusion of transgender people on the grounds of fairness cannot co-exist in the current competitive model," the WSCA concluded. 

The swimming coaches association recommended to the water sports governing board that it creates one of two options. 

The first option would have a "Female" category and a new "Open" category. The second option would have three categories listed as "Female," "Male," and "Open."

Transgender Winning National Collegiate Swimming Title Sparks Public Protest

CBN News and CBN's Faithwire have extensively reported on the increase of biological males who are dominating girls' athletic competitions because they can compete as females.

The WSCA position statement comes just two months after transgender collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas won the national title in the NCAA Div. 1 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.  

As CBN News reported Thomas' win has raised awareness of the threat that transgender athletes pose to women's sports, and the public outcry is escalating. 

Thomas beat the University of Virginia's Emma Weyant by over a second to win the 500 freestyle, despite never qualifying for the Div. 1 championship during the three years he competed on the University of Pennsylvania's men's team. Thomas was the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA swimming championship.

The University of Pennsylvania swimmer previously competed for three seasons as Will Thomas on the UPenn men's swimming team but started competing on the women's team last fall. Thomas began taking hormone replacement therapy to lower his testosterone in May of 2019. 

As CBN News previously reported, some major sports stars have also spoken out on the issue citing fairness, including NFL legendary Quarterback Brett Farve, former California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner — the former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner who is now transgender and identifies as female — and nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova.

One USA Swimming official, Cynthia Millen, decided in late 2021 to resign in protest after more than 30 years in the field. Millen took issue with the rules at the NCAA and USA Swimming that allowed Thomas to compete against biological females.

"I thought, 'This is wrong. This betrays all of this fairness,'" she told CBN News. "I mean, if a swimmer was wearing an illegal swimsuit we would tell the swimmer 'go change your swimsuit. That's not the right fabric. It's giving you an advantage.'"

As CBN's Faithwire has reported, others, too, have raised their voices.

Among the complainants is the group Concerned Women for America, which filed legal paperwork with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights against UPenn, claiming that permitting Thomas to compete on the women's team violates Title IX.

"We plead for you to issue clear, decisive guidance to clarify the law and prevent colleges and university athletic programs from violating women's rights by allowing biological male athletes to compete in the women's category of sport," stated the court filing. "Protecting all female student-athletes from this type of injustice is the very essence of OCR's mission to ensure equal access to educational opportunities and benefits the law requires under Title IX."

The American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, also spoke out against Thomas dominating the women's competition.

"Lia Thomas spent 21 years of his life as a man," tweeted the group. "He started competing against women in swimming this year and became a national champion. Our daughter's sports are not a plan B for failed male athletes."

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of