by Dee Watson, LPNC Secretary
When the government gets involved and spends billions of North Carolinian tax dollars in public schools, there are going to be a lot of arguments over how those schools are run. The latest argument is over House Bill 574 (i.e. the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act"), which determines who may compete in men’s and women’s sports within (K-12) public schools in North Carolina and schools that compete with them. Intramural sports in public colleges are also regulated by the bill.
The Libertarian solution would be to separate education and government, or at the very least to let the tax dollars follow the child so that parents may choose the school system their children attend, instead of having the money allocated for their child held hostage in the public system. If parents could choose where the tax dollars allocated for their children go, then they would influence and pick schools that align with their understanding of how people should be separated in sports. We would have a variety of solutions, and, while different conferences attempted different approaches to delineating people for the purposes of competitive sports, our experience and understanding of the pros and cons would grow in a respectful way while each group consented to the rules in the school of their choice. Instead, we have a system where legislators in the capital are determining the rules for every public school in the state.
Protecting women is great, and I mean that sincerely. Women have fought too hard for too long to see our rights stripped away under some arbitrary pretense that takes away power - which we have battled for, inch by inch, for centuries - and give it back to the government, subject to the whims of elected officials who bear allegiance solely to donors.
Libertarians know all too well how quickly our rights can be stolen. We also know that the only way to protect the rights of women is to defend Liberty for all, and protect everyone's rights, no exceptions. Republicans do a great job of talking up small government and proclaiming they want to defend individual rights, but they seem to use women's rights as an excuse to attack the rights of transgender people.
Who can forget the infamous HB2 (i.e. "The Bathroom Bill") that embarrassed NC. As is always the case when government comes in with a one-size-fits-all approach to "solve" a "problem" that only exists insofar as those elected officials have created it to anger their base, we are now looking at a proposal that creates far more problems than it solves in HB 574.
I am a former Division I athlete. If women weren't able to compete in separate divisions from men, I never would have been an athlete at all. Being in a sport was good for me, as it is for almost everyone who competes. Having clear, direct competition is healthy; it is fantastic that the number of girls and women engaging in competitive and recreational sports is increasing dramatically.
I want to make sure I am clear on one point; I agree that transgender athletes should not be included unrestricted in female-only sports categories. Females should have the opportunity to compete separately from others. If the person is transitioning from female to male, that usually includes hormone treatments that create a huge advantage over any woman not taking those hormones.
Further, males have biological advantages over females in athletics - advantages that have been selected for evolutionarily for billions of years across millions of species leading up to today. They have greater muscle mass, greater hemoglobin, greater height, greater mass, larger lung capacity, and hips that are far more conducive to athletics. Hormones will change testosterone levels, but have little impact on these other things. Males are just biologically different than females and transitioning from male to female does not erase all of these things. There is a clear issue that Riley Gaines should not have had to compete with Lia Thomas, but this bill does not solve that problem.
The categories for sports in the new bill are:
- Males, men, or boys.
- Females, women, or girls.
- Coed or mixed
A simple solution would be to change the males/men/boys category to open and allow anyone, males, transgender, and even women (who are more capable than I) to compete in the open category. This would allow everyone to compete. That is not what the NC Republican legislature did. For the purpose of the bill, the NC Republican legislature defined sex based solely on birth. That means that transgender men (biological women who are using hormones to transition) would be required to compete with women, even though they have a medical advantage. So the bill doesn't even protect women's sports, unless it is intended to exclude transgender people from sports entirely.
There is no need to protect men's sports from Lia Thomas or any other transgender person. However, the NC Republican legislature has bizarrely written a bill that does so. Slightly different bills have been passed in the house and senate, and I hope that they are modified to permit transgender individuals in an open category. Otherwise, I fear that NC will undergo the embarrassment of bathroom bill 2.0., or worse, see the state-mandated end of women's sports.