Fine, let's talk about trans athletes
But let's dispense with the pretense that this is actually about sports at all
Fine, let’s talk about trans athletes. [groan]
Mainstream media doesn’t tend to pay too much attention to women’s sports. Right-wing media, even less —with a major exception for when there’s a trans person involved, at which point they will then become the world’s biggest proponents of women’s athletics.
For the past several months, there’s been absolutely obsessive coverage of transgender woman and University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.
At last week’s national championships, Thomas placed 1st in the 500-yard freestyle, tied for 5th in the 200-yard freestyle, and took 8th place in the 100-yard freestyle event. And now her college swimming career is over.
Obviously, she’s a pretty good swimmer if she won an NCAA Division I national championship — but how good is she? By the way her story has been covered in media, you’d be forgiven to think that she was the aquatic equivalent of Billy Madison playing dodgeball. Okay, so, in her 500-yard win, did she set the world record? No. Did she set the NCAA record for that race? Also no (that would be Katie Ledecky, whose 2017 time of 4:24.06 is more than 9 seconds faster than Thomas’ 4:33.24 finish). Did she even set the pool record for that event? Yet again, no (Leah Smith’s 2016 time of 4:30.81 remains safe).
But none of this really matters. She’s going to be talked about for years to come like some sort of world-beater. Whether she was actually dominant or not is beside the point — at least in the context of the current panic over whether or not trans girls and trans women should be allowed to participate in girls and women’s sports.
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Do trans girls and trans women have unfair advantages over other girls and women? It depends.
Anyone who claims to know the one true answer to that question without asking a series of follow-ups is simply lying. Allow me to explain…