Women’s Sports Policy Working Group Denounces ‘Cancel Culture,’ Releases Model State Statute and Gives Kudos to NCAA

Apr 23, 2021 | NCAA

(What follows is commentary from the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, which is comprised of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Donna de Varona, former President, Women’s Sports Foundation, USOPC Board of Directors; International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, 31 Grand Slam doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles; Olympic gold medalist swimmer NancyHogshead-Makar, J.D., CEO of Champion Women, former President, Women’s Sports Foundation; Donna Lopiano, Ph.D., former CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation, President, The Drake Group, National Softball Hall of Fame; Tracy Sundlun, Founding Board member, National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, six-time Olympic coach and manager, Running USA Hall of Champions; and Doriane Coleman, J.D., Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy at Duke Law School, U.S. collegiate national champion and two-time Swiss national champion in the 800 meters.)

Kudos to the NCAA. We applaud the NCAA’s decision to continue their long-standing support for transgender inclusive policies – fully consistent with our WSPWG recommendations – that require trans women to have mitigated their sex-linked performance advantages before they compete in women’s sports. Further, we commend the NCAA leadership’s policy to hold NCAA championships only in states safe, healthy and free of transgender discrimination.

WSPWG Expresses Strong Concern Over State Legislation and Toxic Debate. Unfortunately, state legislatures are lawmaking at the extremes: either no transgender girls allowed in women’s sports or all transgender girls are allowed, without regard to whether some have a testosterone advantage that precludes fair competition against biological females. These bills are ignoring science and the sound transgender athlete participation policies of the NCAA, the International
Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The debate at this intersection of science, women’s sport and social justice is filled with easily
disproved falsehoods such as:

  • “testosterone is not performance enhancing” or
  • “males don’t have an advantage in sports,” or
  • “male and female testosterone levels overlap,” or
  • “if transgender girls who have not mitigated their testosterone advantage are separately
    scored in sports contests, they will commit suicide” or
  • “it is impossible to mitigate the male sex-linked sports advantage.”

In addition, we express dismay at the twitter boycotts, attempts at censorship and inaccurate allegations – ‘cancel culture’ at its worst – that are being directed against those who do not support either of these extreme positions. Such personal attacks are intended to intimidate and silence opposing views by putting pressure on sponsors and employers to be complicit in discouraging voices seeking solutions. Such attacks create a toxic environment which prevents the respectful and honest conversation needed to address this issue.

WSPWG Releases A Model State Statute. We believe the conversation and state legislation must
move to how we structure women’s sports to ensure fair competition for all girls and women under the women’s sports umbrella – those with and without testosterone advantage – while creating an affirming and welcoming place for both – a respectful sports environment that acknowledges and celebrates human differences. We know there are simple solutions like separate scoring and other ways to adjust the structure of women’s sports for trans girls and women who do not wish to change their bodies. We believe that those who choose to sufficiently mitigate their testosterone levels should compete with and against biological females, whether they identify as male or female, fluid or non-binary. We urge states to consider the attached model state statute that affirms the appropriateness and legality of separate-sex competitive sport teams while including all trans girls and trans women within girls’ and women’s sports.

WSPWG Remains Optimistic. We acknowledge recent reporting and opinions (see Mahnken,
Zeigler, Whitley, Coleman/Eastwood/Navratilova) that indicate that there is a middle ground being thoughtfully explored, a path forward to the inclusion of all transgender women and girls in women’s sports.

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