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Women's sports are facing real problems. Trans kids aren't it.

The GOP's obsession with trans people has led them — and many others — to ignore the real problems facing women in athletics. Here are a few.


In their weird obsession with transgender people, Republicans have honed in on a key line of attack ahead of this year’s midterm elections: pushing to bar trans women from playing in women's sports leagues.

From U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker of Georgia, to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, to Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who heads Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, the GOP has been maniacally focused on keeping trans women from participating in women’s athletics. And they’ve often framed this as though they’re defending women’s sports from an assault.

Here’s the thing, though: Women’s sports are beset by all kinds of actual problems. And trans people aren’t one of them. But don’t hold your breath waiting on Republicans to respond to any of the legitimate issues. 

This past weekend, I stumbled upon a panel discussion hosted by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study earlier this summer on the passage of Title IX rules 50 years ago, which prohibits discrimination from education-related activities based on sex. 

As the panelists made quite clear, the discussion about how to truly improve and advocate for equality in women’s athletics since Title IX rules were codified isn’t as sophomoric as the conservative movement would have you believe. 

It’s not trans kids destroying women’s sports — it’s, predictably, misogynistic neglect. And that weighs heavier on some women than others. 

For example, Bekah Salwasser, the Boston Red Sox's executive vice president of social impact, noted that Title IX benefits, including the expansion of women’s sports to high schools across the country, have been concentrated among white women while frequently excluding Black and brown ones

And journalist Shira Springer spoke to Traci Green, who coaches women’s tennis at Harvard, about the stubborn lack of women in coaching and athletic director positions at the college level. 

Green noted that athletic directors have a powerful platform to advocate for neglected programs, so having a woman in the role may help garner attention and support for often-ignored women’s teams. (Harvard's own Erin McDermott is one of the few women to hold that position at the college level.) 

One panelist, writer and film director Melissa Johnson, addressed right-wing attacks on trans athletes head-on. 

Johnson, a former basketball player, called on people to reject a “climate of panic, and fear, and scarcity about what a trans athlete is gonna mean for you.” None of these women, who are steeped in knowledge about women’s sports, cited trans kids as an existential threat.

Of course, I trust these people far more than the conservative (mostly) men leading the charge against trans athletes. 

Each of the panelists spoke to more pressing issues endangering women’s athletics: patriarchal leadership structures, denial of adequate equipment, poor recruitment and media’s marginalization of women’s sports as a whole. 

Check out the panel discussion below!