Might a Separate Division Be a Solution to Sport’s Trans Row?
© Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsMar 19, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Penn Quakers swimmer Lia Thomas finishes eighth in the 100 free at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships at Georgia Tech
© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
A third option has been proposed in the bitter argument between transgender rights activists and those fighting for fair sporting clashes regarding whether trans women should compete against biological women.
A Kentucky swimmer who competed against the controversial trans athlete Lia Thomas has voiced support for the World Swimming Coaches Association’s (WSCA) call to introduce a separate division for trans athletes.
Riley Gaines, who tied Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championships, hailed the proposition as a step in a right direction.
"Obviously in a sport like swimming, where it is based on your individual performance, and it requires things like your power and your stamina and your strength and endurance, all these things that women are just typically disadvantaged at over men," Gaines told Fox News.
Last week, the WSCA issued a position statement, explaining that "competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in a gender-affected sport such as swimming". Therefore, the association pointed at the concept of a so-called "open division".
"With an open division, trans females swimming against biological males may not even make the required time standards to be able to enter certain events/meets. Additionally, trans males competing against biological males does not raise a concern in terms of performance imbalance within the biological sexes. An open competition takes care of the issue we face, but we also have to ask if it takes care of the athletes holistically," the statement read.
Another solution, the statement continued, is to launch a "trans division", where trans females will race each other, and trans males will compete with 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," the WSCA said. "This would also allow those of indeterminate gender to be factored into such a solution."
Still, the initiative remains questionable due to the fact that trans activists believe that trans women are women, and trans men are men, and therefore they have the right to compete in the corresponding divisions.
For her part, Lia Thomas, who has not commented on the proposal, sparked controversy after winning the 500-yard NCAA women’s championship in March. Her victory triggered a backlash among many, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner, who is a trans woman herself. The latter even blasted Thomas' precedent as "the worst thing that ever happened to the trans community" because of bad publicity it has attracted.