For those watching the Winter Olympics in Beijing, there have been no shortage of great performances to see in the women’s events. On Wednesday, Lindsey Jacobellis became the oldest snowboarder to ever medal at the Olympics, and the oldest American woman in any sport to win gold in the Winter Games, when she won the snowboardcross final. Also in snowboarding, Chloe Kim’s awesome performance on the halfpipe made her the first woman to ever earn two golds in that event. Elsewhere, Irene Schouten set a new Olympic record in the 3000m speed skating final. Natalie Geisenberger, likely the greatest female luge athlete of all time, increased her all-time gold medal count to six by sweeping singles and team relay for the third straight year. And in the slalom, Petra Vlhova came back from a disappointing start to these Olympics and earned Slovakia’s alpine skiing program their first-ever gold.
While each of these individual showings are laudable and impressive, together they represent a looming trend that threatens the very core of women’s sports. All of the women winning medals in China are cisgender—meaning that they were born with a biologically female anatomy and they do not feel discomfort about it—and their uninterrupted, seemingly impossible-to-stop success serves as further proof of what any god-fearing sports fan should already know by instinct: These “cis” women have an obvious leg up on trans women when it comes to elite athletic competition. Their continued monopoly on medals, which have pushed trans Olympic hopefuls into irrelevance and invisibility, raises some serious questions about the unfair nature of these games. In fact, since the first modern Winter Games in 1924, it is estimated that approximately 100 percent of the medals in women’s sports have been awarded to athletes who openly identify as cis female.
IOC guidelines have long allowed almost all biological females to compete at the Olympics without any changes to their bodies or hormone levels. But as yet another Olympiad passes by without even a whiff of a trans woman on a podium, it’s clear that these officials need to cast aside trendy, “woke” politics and ask themselves how it’s possible that a single type of woman can be given such free rein to dominate the games.
The advantages that “shefemales” have over trans women in sports are too numerous to list in one blog, but on average they enjoy larger incomes, lower rates of harassment, less discrimination in housing or employment, lower rates of depression, and fewer issues with addiction. That’s before even touching on the stressful logistical nightmare that is transitioning for high-level athletes, who have to somehow work to significantly change a body they’re uncomfortable with while simultaneously maintaining their ability to perform at an elite level.
And when the rare trans woman does manage to pull off this feat, there’s an enormous media machine just waiting to destroy her. Lia Thomas, the fantastic swimmer at Penn, is the latest target of this horrendous coverage, as her performances at the NCAA level have made her the subject of tireless outrage clickbait from outlets that have never before written a word about college swimming. Meanwhile, someone like Katie Ledecky, to name one particularly outstanding swimmer, hears no critics questioning her validity as a competitor, even as she’s consistently and unprecedentedly left her opponents in her wake? With not even a whisper of all the benefits she was born with that her trans counterparts were not? Clearly, this is a system content to let some groups have advantages not available to all.
I can’t say that I have a workable solution here. The drive to win in these competitions is so great, and the hierarchy of these sports so firmly entrenched, that the purveyors of militant cis activism aren’t going to just humbly step aside and renounce their privileges. But this issue is a serious, existential threat to women’s sports. Those in power can either bow to pressure and continue giving some women an unfair advantage, or they can work toward a future where every young girl has an equal shot at Olympic glory.