Advocacy groups ask policymakers to prioritize fairness for biological women in sport

Advocacy organizations Champion Women and the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group released dual petitions on Tuesday with over 5,000 signatures, asking for policymakers to prioritize “fairness and safety for females” instead of “blanket transgender inclusion or exclusion” in women’s sports.

The petitions were organized by three-time Olympic gold medalist, founder of Champion Women and WSPWG member Nancy Hogshead-Makar. According to Champion Women, the petitions were signed by nearly 300 Olympians, Paralympians, and U.S. national team members, as well as by over 2,500 athletes who have competed at the high school, club or college levels.

“We always look for win-win solutions,” Hogshead-Makar told ESPN. “But when it comes to transgender women’s inclusion into the female category, we need to prioritize fairness for biological women in sport. A category that is for half the world’s population is worth defending. Only then can we talk about ways to include transgender men and women, ways that respect everyone with all their differences and that don’t harm biological women.”

The petitions come two days before University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas is set to begin her competition at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving national championships. Thomas is a transgender woman, and her participation in the women’s category has been a source of controversy throughout the season. After swimming three season in the men’s category, Thomas began competing in the women’s category this season. She began hormone therapy in May 2019, and has been declared eligible under the current NCAA transgender participation policy.

Among the petition signatures are at least five of Thomas’ Penn teammates, Princeton women’s swimming head coach Bret Lundgaard and Tennessee women’s swimming head coach Matt Kredich. Lundgaard is the only coach in the Ivy League to have publicly signed the petition. Neither Lundgaard nor Kredich returned requests for comment.

Thomas won individual titles in the 100-yard, 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events at the Ivy League championships in February. She is slated to swim each of those events in Atlanta this week.