It would be easy not to venture into a controversy over transgender anything and just pretend the matter is of little consequence. In our culture, some feel that a man living as a woman or a woman living as a man shouldn’t matter to others, and maybe they’re right. But truth matters, and that’s what Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb got wrong.
In vetoing House Bill 1041, a bill to ensure female athletes would not be required to compete against males in female sporting events, Holcomb is unwilling to stand up to protect the integrity of women’s sports, although he claims to support the integrity of women’s sports. Come on, governor, which is it?
In a letter to the speaker of the Indiana House explaining his rejection of the popular legislation, Holcomb emitted a winding rationale for canceling the GOP-sponsored bill, citing uncertainty in the process, his fear of potential lawsuits, and most notably his feeling that boys wanting to compete against girls is not yet a thing worthy of legislation in Indiana.
It was also Holcomb who tried to circumvent the legislative process a couple of years ago when his Bureau of Motor Vehicles tried to sneak in a rule that would have created a new classification of person on the Indiana driver’s license, an “X.” That was to be the designation for Hoosiers who did not feel male or female fit.
In declining to approve the proposed rule as attorney general, I advised the Holcomb administration that creating a new classification of person, “X,” was substantive in nature, requiring a legislative act and the accountability that goes along with it. The only thing clear about Holcomb’s position, then or now, is how woke he wants to be for whatever crowd he’s trying to impress.
Holcomb’s wokeness is especially loud as his veto falls just days after one of the biggest controversies in women’s amateur athletics. Lia Thomas’s NCAA Division I national swim championship has underscored the absurdity of a man competing against women in sporting events designated for women only.
Thomas, who first swam for the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s team as William Thomas, then opted to “change” his gender status to woman. It might be easy enough to dismiss that decision as a personal matter of choice, but when that choice has an impact beyond the person making it, it goes too far.
Swimming as a man, Thomas ranked 462 in the world. I’m not sure if that means he was good or not. But now, swimming on the ladies’ team, Thomas has suddenly become the undisputed dominant figure in women’s swim sports, and not all women are happy about that.
Despite “feeling” like a woman and adopting a persona to manifest that feeling, Thomas remains biologically male and retains a clear physical advantage over women competitors. Although it’s reported that Thomas has undergone hormone treatments, such treatments do not suppress the truth that he is a man.
The NCAA didn’t ask the millions of Americans who strongly support Title IX’s protections for women’s sports when it decided to allow a male to compete against females and call that fair. Now Holcomb says H.B. 1041 would not be fair to K-12 students in Indiana. Fair for who? Little boys and girls should be able to engage in competitive sports knowing that years of hard work and training won’t result in absurd results such as losing a female championship to a male.
The whole idea behind having separate sporting venues for women and men is that men and women have clear biological and physiological differences that manifest in many ways. This especially matters to sports and other physical contests. Generally, men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women, and if women were required to compete with men in many sports where those physical distinctions come into play, women athletes would be at a severe disadvantage.
By establishing athletic leagues, events, and teams exclusively for women, female athletes fully enjoy the benefits of athletic competition in an environment that is fair and rewarding. Until now.
What happens to women’s athletics if competitors who were born male are allowed to compete with athletes who were born female? Should not the state make its position clear? For the sake of “inclusion,” are we to ignore factual physical distinctions and exclude greater opportunities for young female athletes?
So the central question in the Lia Thomas case and the Indiana legislation is this: should a male be permitted to “change” his gender identity and then compete against females in sport, and subsequently rewrite the record books because of the physical advantages of having been born male? Well, H.B. 1041 and the Indiana General Assembly say no. It’s not fair to women. By vetoing the bill, Holcomb says yes.
In a rare demonstration of willingness to stand up to this governor, the Indiana General Assembly is going to override his veto. Doing so is not a reflection of any hatred or bigotry. Men and women who suffer from gender dysphoria should be treated with compassion, understanding, love, and respect. They also should not be denied public accommodation such as in hotels, restaurants, and other venues open and available to anyone.
In practicing compassion, however, we must also accept reality and the limitations we may face when standing for truth and genuine freedom, which must prevail.