Caitlyn Jenner can teach the left a lesson about protecting girls’ sports
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If there is any issue on which woke leftism has placed itself in complete opposition to both fairness and science it’s transgender athletes and women’s sports.
The notion that biological males who have adopted a female identity should be allowed to compete against girls in high-school or college sports is something close to a litmus-test issue for liberals seeking to virtue signal their support for the LGBTQ community. But Caitlyn Jenner may help change this.
Jenner — who as Bruce won the 1976 Olympic decathlon, then (with the support of his insufferable Kardashian relations) came out as a transgender woman named Cait in 2015 — can help knock some common sense into the country on the issue. But will her former woke allies who control pop culture and liberal politics listen?
Among the executive orders signed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office was one reversing his predecessor on this: Biden mandated that all federal agencies enforce a definition of illegal discrimination that includes “gender identity” and sexual orientation and specifically mentioned high-school and college sports.
Biden and his cheering section in the mainstream media clearly have no grasp of the consequences. His decision to apply transgender rights to Title IX federal civil-rights law that bans discrimination in education will wreck that law’s greatest achievement: the growth of women’s sports.
Until Title IX was passed, schools weren’t obligated to fund sports for girls the way they had for boys. But letting biological males, who are bigger, stronger and faster than their female counterparts, compete against girls turns a measure whose purpose was to empower women into a joke.
Nonetheless, those striving to stop this travesty are routinely labeled intolerant bigots intent on victimizing transgender people. The 20 states that have either passed or are considering laws banning biological males from taking part in women’s sports have come under intense fire from the left. Even some conservatives, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, have been pressured to oppose such laws for fear of national boycotts and other repercussions, including from the federal government.
That’s why Jenner, who spoke out against this practice as something that “just isn’t fair” and about the need to “protect girls’ sports in our schools,” is so important.
For this she is being unfairly smeared as a “transphobe,” though she’s probably the most famous transgender person in the world. While young people have little idea about the decathlete once featured on the Wheaties box, they know her as a reality star and the symbol of transgender acceptance.
Jenner has tried to keep one foot in the LGBTQ world and another in mainstream politics as someone who is a Christian and a conservative and a sometime Trump supporter. She plans to run for governor of California as part of the recall of incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.
It remains to be seen if even the most diverse sort of Republican can win in that deep-blue state. But Jenner deserves credit for trying to bridge the gap between left and right in a way that transcends the culture wars.
Most Americans have libertarian instincts and don’t care how individuals choose to live their lives, even if they may bristle at nonsensical scolds nattering on about pronouns or letting children have dangerous medical treatments to change their sex. But they understand that letting biological boys take advantage of their greater size and strength to win competitions meant for girls is just wrong.
Those who want to protect girls’ sports know this isn’t about bigotry. But Jenner has the ability to help change the conversation. Instead of a polarized debate centered on false charges of prejudice, we should be discussing how to ensure fairness for girls empowered by Title IX.
However Jenner fares in her run for governor, if she can help liberals understand the madness that they are enabling by treating girls’ sports as acceptable collateral damage to ensure the triumph of transgender politics, then she will have done something truly worthwhile.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org.
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