After decades of debate and debacle over fair treatment for women across the societal board, it’s a jaw-dropping wonder to hear the societal mouthpieces applaud as a man claiming to be a woman wallops all the girls in a national women’s swimming championship. But what is actually wonderful is that, even in this benighted day and age, so many people are calling this victory a loss—which it most certainly is on all fronts.
Lia Thomas (born “William”) of the University of Pennsylvania won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship for the 500-yard freestyle in women’s swimming last week in Atlanta, becoming the first transgender athlete to capture a Division I national championship in the history of sports. While Thomas’ “victory” and shameless persistence in the sport despite his peculiar condition is being given the usual liberal lip service, there is an unusually strong reaction against him.
One glance at the picture of the victors’ podium is enough to show the outrageous absurdity of this situation. On one side are the slender, athletic girls with their runner-up trophies, and on the other, towering above his competitors, a broad, muscular figure in a one-piece demurely holds the first prize. This is a picture of a man who was allowed to compete against women, and it is unfair—it is unfair to women, and it is also unfair to him.
Thomas’ participation drew boos (which are rude but telling), silence, and “Save Women’s Sports” protests. He has been called the most controversial athlete in America, and that is not only because of the male athletic advantage he brings into the female athletic arena but also because of the contradiction of liberalism that he poses. On the one hand, the Left wants to celebrate this brave “trans woman” for embracing “her authentic self,” but in so doing, they disregard the hard work and opportunities of biological women (it’s insane that we have to make that distinction) who are placed in an unfair situation by the “brave” one.
In fact, it’s interesting that feminists are some of the loudest voices against Thomas’ victory. His clearance to compete clearly put women at a disadvantage, seemingly reversing the liberal agenda to usher in a new age of fairness for women. What began with Title IX and continued with Barack Obama’s 2009 bill on workplace equality has progressed into the vindictive and bizarre. With Joe Biden’s executive order to prevent gender discrimination, those concerned for women’s equal rights are beginning to feel betrayed by their party. Liberalism, like the snake that swallows its own tail, is full of contradiction that must end in shackling absurdity if pursued far and long enough. Liberalism is losing its identity.
When it comes to fairness for women in general, it is, of course, a matter of justice and, as such, should be upheld and maintained within the bounds of reason and reality. The realm and role of sports, in particular, is all about justice. Justice is a central theme and thrust in athletics, as people compete for deserved honors and gain the reward for discipline, virtue, and skill. The popularity and importance of sports is a testament to our appetite for justice, and it is, as it turns out, a place where justice can still prevail.
There is a long-standing preference for segregating the sexes in sport, and that is for one primary reason: single-sex sports foster fair play on a level playing field, which is conducive to a just outcome. The biological and anatomical differences between men and women are a motivating factor in this tendency and tradition—again, based on the desire for justice—and if those differences are not to be considered any longer, then there is no point to sex segregation in sports.
If that biological, anatomical difference matters—things like natural muscle mass and bone density—then segregation on that account alone should hold. Of course, if a woman, say, has strength comparable to that of a man, that shouldn’t disqualify her from competing with other women, simply because her biology and anatomy, while superior, is still the same as her competitors’.
Ultimately, this comes down to an age-old observation: men and women are not the same. They should be treated equally, but they are not equivalent. And though Americans still see that truth, and sometimes admit it, they are becoming too accustomed to trans-truth and transgender normalization. Lia Thomas is just the latest front in this battle, and it is a battle for justice. Even transgender advocate Caitlyn Jenner said that Thomas’ victory wasn’t fair since he is a “biological boy” and that he, Jenner, using crude and utterly confusing language, “had the balls to stand up for women in sports.”
This social issue involves a customary hypocrisy in the societal acceptance of deviancies. Everyone who is “straight” is, to some extent, disconcerted by “queer” behavior. But the challenges in evangelizing or admonishing under the pressure to be tolerant tempts submission. Given the forced popularity of perversion, the morally muddled tend to love both sin and sinner alike, but people do not normally accept abnormal tendencies.
Although America is defining a “new normal,” definitions only go so far when it comes to reality. The instinctive rejection of things that go against the truth cannot be fully stifled by mind games. It can only be repressed until it turns into denial. The “remedy” is an abstract approval for something that is concretely wrong. Jerry Seinfeld’s “Not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that” joke from his ’90s sitcom captures the uncomfortable acceptance that arises out of a phobia of appearing phobic, saying something is not wrong precisely because it is.
Transgenderism is a civil rights issue that requires lies to inform the law of the land, throwing out norms such as sex by giving the concept of gender a new prevalence. Sex is immutable. Gender is a grayer area. Sex is biology, gender is psychology—though neither are divisible from each other. Gender, however, as a state of being, is more suitable for the purposes of turning truth into something transient. The modern emphasis on feelings and thoughts tries to subjugate reality to the perception of reality. But a man is not a woman, nor a woman a man, merely because they believe it; yet it must be held on pain of social excommunication, unemployment, and litigious action.
Transgenderism is not emblematic of some empowering ideal. It is proving to promote yet another platform for unjust discrimination. Acceptance of mental disease is not sympathy. It is not tolerance. It is cruelty because it affirms neuroses and illusions. There is nothing hateful in rejecting falsehood, in thinking clearly, in calling a spade a spade and a man a man. The United States is lining itself up for legitimizing a range of disorders and subcultures where, eventually, the absurdity created by the criteria will lead to chaos. That is the logical conclusion when logic is abandoned.
When Lia Thomas won the NCAA 500-yard freestyle championship, the crowd noticeably cheered for the second-place contestant from Virginia, Emma Weyant. She is the woman who won that race and who was placed in an unfair position. And while it is unfair to women to make them compete and share a locker room with men, it is equally unfair to allow targets to be placed on the backs of mentally ill people who deny what they are.
“Giving the Best of Yourself,” a Vatican document on sports from a Christian perspective, states that “in the context of the modern world, sport is perhaps the most striking example of the unity of body and soul…neglecting the unity of body and soul results in an attitude that either entirely disregards the body or fosters a worldly materialism. Hence, all the dimensions have to be taken into account in order to understand what actually constitutes the human being.”
Once Americans stop pretending that there is nothing wrong with troubled souls, they can start helping to make things right. Loving acceptance lies not in a loving acceptance of lies. At the same time, there is a fine line between condemning a lifestyle and condemning the person who lives it. All the dimensions have to be taken into account, and in this lies a Catholic strategy for justice and victory.