As one of the top swimmers in the county, I know achievement does not happen by accident. It takes work, dedication, perseverance and time. I learned this as a little girl, waking up at 4:30 a.m. to go to swim practice and then returning to the pool that afternoon to pursue my goals. I learned it as a college student who finished my career as a 12-time NCAA All-American, five-time SEC Champion and record holder, and two-time Olympic trial qualifier. Despite this, it was not until the last competition of my collegiate career that I realized how much I had taken for granted the achievements of Title IX.
Fifty years ago, pioneering women and men fought for Title IX’s passage. They knew their efforts would pay off by giving girls and women like me the opportunity to have our own sports category protected under federal law. The results have been profound. An entire youth sports ecosystem for girls has blossomed, giving countless females the same chance to develop skills critical to achieving equality in the workplace with their male counterparts. A recent Ernst & Young study found that fully 94% of female business executives participated in sports as girls — making sports participation the most straightforward path to business success as an adult.
Recently, the woke left has pushed a radical agenda embraced by President Joe Biden that threatens to undermine the entirety of Title IX by allowing males to steal the opportunities reserved for women. For me, this is not a theoretical issue, it is one that was forced in my face at the NCAA Championships. And I mean that literally.
Under Title IX, women are entitled to their own locker rooms so that we can be vulnerable and change in private. Yet at the NCAA Championships, I saw a 6’4″ biological male exposing male parts in our women’s locker room. To be perfectly clear, the anatomy I and many other women were forced to view, confirms Thomas is a male. I asked the officials where I should change as I had no intention of undressing in front of a man. They informed me that there were no protections in place for me to change in a space that Thomas did not have access to. To summarize, the NCAA put the onus on the female to avoid undressing in front of a biological man with male biological parts who is sexually attracted to women. Let that sink in.
So, after having the privacy of my locker room taken away from me, I went to my marquee event, the 200-meter freestyle. Considered the most competitive event in swimming, I wanted to showcase my years of work and sacrifice in my final NCAA Championships.
Physiological development as a biological male yields tremendous advantages over biological women in athletic competition. On average, men have over a 10% advantage across the board on strength, agility, and stamina versus women in the same category. The male body is developed from the womb to be the physically stronger and more athletic of the two sexes …yes, there are only two.
To put real numbers on the female-male deficit in my race, 10% of the 102 seconds it takes to swim the race is 10 seconds which, not coincidentally, is exactly the difference between the men’s and women’s world records in the event.
So, with effectively a 10-second biological deficit, I tied Thomas to the hundredth of a second, which is relatively rare. Given this, you would think that the NCAA would recognize this incredible accomplishment and at least equally reward us for tying. Yet instead, they gave Thomas the trophy that day for “photo purposes” and assured me that mine would eventually come in the mail. The University of Pennsylvania and the NCAA then subsequently nominated Thomas for NCAA Woman of the Year, the highest accolade for females in all of college athletics.
I’m not looking for sympathy with this story, I’m looking for action. President Joe Biden has proposed unlawful rule changes to Title IX replacing “sex” with “gender” and ‘gender identity’. This is regressive and will strip away women’s spaces, safety, and opportunities — including legally allowing men who identify as women to participate in and destroy the integrity of women’s sports as Lia Thomas and numerous other male athletes have done. Enough is enough.
It’s time to take back Title IX and stand up and protect our girls and women. I was gifted Title IX by those who came before me, and I will fight relentlessly to give it to the young girls who have dreams to win at an elite level like I once did.