The authoritarian Left demands absolute conformity to its beliefs, no matter how absurd they are, and harshly punishes those who dare to step out of line. And so, everyone who sees transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records that were set by human beings who were actually born female is supposed to applaud happily and exclaim, “You go, girl!” Those whose applause is less than enthusiastic face personal and professional ruin as “transphobic” bigots who have no place in our modern, diverse, multicultural paradise. Those are the rules, and everyone knows them. But as in all totalitarian dystopias, much of the applause and support is less than wholehearted, motivated by fear of the consequences of dissent.
Behind the façade of joy and pride in Thomas’ accomplishments is growing discontent with the devaluation of women’s athletics that the participation of men who are pretending to be women has brought about. One UPenn swimmer, who is remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, revealed Thursday that “pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. Our coach [Mike Schnur] just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do. When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing.’ It’s very fake.”
According to OutKick, “friction has been building within the team” over Thomas’ presence and shattering of female records. On Friday, Thomas broke the Ivy League 500 freestyle record, and then on Saturday, he (sorry, I’m not playing the Left’s ridiculous pronoun game) set a new record in the 200 freestyle. OutKick also noted that, “in the 1650 freestyle final, Thomas didn’t just win and set new program, pool, and meet records. It was total annihilation. Penn’s Anna Kalandadze finished in second place — 38 seconds behind Thomas.”
Thomas’ outspoken teammate put all this in context: “The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion. That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League. On paper, if Lia Thomas gets back down to Will Thomas’ best times, those numbers are female world records. Faster than all the times Katie Ledecky went in college. Faster than any other Olympian you can think of. His times in three events are [female] world records.”
The NCAA has rules for this sort of thing: “A trans female treated with testosterone suppression medication may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one year of testosterone suppression treatment.” This directive is relatively newly minted, and Thomas’ teammate doesn’t think it’s adequate to address the problem: “One year doesn’t mean anything. What about the years of puberty as a male, the male growth you went through as a man?
What indeed? A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine stated, “Prior to gender affirming hormones, trans women performed 31% more push-ups and 15% more sit-ups in 1 min and ran 1.5 miles 21% faster than their female counterparts. After 2 years of taking feminizing hormones, the push-up and sit-up differences disappeared but trans women were still 12% faster.” But we have entered uncharted territory in which fantasy trumps reality, and any rules the NCAA makes, to try to account for the natural male strength advantage, will of necessity be arbitrary and ineffective.
The even greater injustice is that the UPenn female swimmers who are unhappy with Thomas’ presence on their team are unable to speak freely about their concerns without fear of backlash from the Left’s self-anointed guardians of acceptable opinion. Thomas’ teammate said, “There are a bunch of comments on the Internet about how, ‘Oh, these girls are just letting this happen. They should just boycott or protest.’ At the end of the day, it’s an individual sport. If we protest it, we’re only hurting ourselves because we’re going to miss out on all that we’ve been working for.”
They would miss out on all that they had been working for because the fascist gatekeepers of opinion don’t hesitate to punish dissidents as severely as possible. The presence of men in women’s sports is bad enough; even worse is that even the victims of this lunacy are expected to play along with a smile — or else. Those who are worried about the advance of socialism in the U.S. have legitimate concerns, but the steady diminishment of freedom of speech and the inability to question the hegemony of the woke agenda is not just a concern for the future; it’s already here.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.