To the handful of Facebook friends expressing outrage over trans athlete Lia Thomas accompanied by the hashtag SaveWomensSports:

I was a little surprised by some of you, to be honest, because I’ve never known you to be concerned about women’s sports before. So I scrolled through your timeline to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Maybe some post or commentary showing concern or support for Naomi Osaka or Simone Biles or Brittney Griner. Surely you’ve been advocating for equal pay alongside the USWNST all these years and maybe re-posted celebrations of Megan Rapinoe or Carli Lloyd or some other trailblazer when the settlement with US Soccer Federation was recently reached. No? No posts commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX, either?

Let me get this straight. You were silent about Larry Nassar but now outraged by Lia Thomas? That seems odd to me. I’m curious to know the inspiration for your newfound passion for women’s sports.

As you may know, I have a high school daughter who’s been competing in a variety of sports for several years now and who aspires to compete at the next level. I’m a huge fan of Anika Raburn and her teammates, in particular, and consider myself a strong advocate for women’s athletics, in general. Scroll through my timeline. I think I’ve earned enough street cred to express my humble opinion on the topic. Here goes.

To be clear, Lia Thomas does not dominate the sport of swimming (she placed 5th and 8th in other events at the meet), nor do any of the tiny percentage of trans athletes who compete in their respective sports across the US.

Trans athletes pose no threat to women’s sports.

You know what does? Lack of funding, lack of protection, rampant sexual harassment, and unequal pay. To be sure, I do not lay awake at night worrying that Anika may someday have to compete against a trans woman.

Of course, there are nuanced conversations to be had about fairness and competitive advantage, etc. — complex issues and policies about which the IOC and NCAA and other governing bodies grapple and tweak on an ongoing basis. (Note: Lia Thomas tested within the normal range for testosterone for female athletes).

I’m willing to discuss these issues with you.

But first, show me a shred of evidence that you actually care about women’s sports.

Also, I’d like to know if you’ve ever even known a trans person or had a trans friend or supported a parent of a trans child or have some appreciation for the fact that trans kids are at hugely disproportionate risk for suicide or can acknowledge how challenging it is for a trans kid to find “space” to be and to fit in and understand that team sports can sometimes provide that rare space.

Do you naturally default to inclusion rather than exclusion?

If not, my assumption is that your interest in “saving” women’s sports is nothing more than thinly-veiled transphobia among a broader anti-LGBTQ right-wing hate agenda and would respectfully decline any attempt at meaningful conversation with you on the topic.

I would also suggest you pick a different battle and leave women’s sports to those of us who are actually passionate about it. However, if you are truly interested in the topic, I recommend turning your attention to Brittney Griner, American athlete wrongfully imprisoned in Russia.

There, I fixed your hashtag.

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Stephen Raburn

Stephen Raburn

53 Followers

Stephen Raburn is a writer, daydreamer, activist, and father of two amazing daughters. He lives in Durham, NC.