Olympians and Experts Urge Athletes to Seek Equity in Women’s Sport at Inaugural ICONS Conference


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Washington, DC, July 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Press release

Take it to court: Olympians and experts urge athletes to sue

Equity in Women’s Sport at the Inaugural ICONS Conference

LAS VEGAS — The Independent Women’s Sports Council (ICONS) recently launched its inaugural conference in Las Vegas, bringing together world-class athletes, parents and experts in science, law and politics, all advocating for equity in women’s sport – a quest that must be resolved in court.

“Women need a network and a way to reconnect and get back to influencing the world of sport that we care about so much,” said ICONS co-founder, Kim Jones, a Stanford and Pac-10 All-American champion whose daughter was beaten by a biological male participating in women’s collegiate swimming earlier this year. “If we unite our voices, we can harness that energy and really make a difference.”

The conference — held June 26-28 at the Ahern Hotel and streamed live across multiple online platforms — came after the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the Biden administration’s announcement to revise landmark law by redefining “sex” to mean “gender” and “gender identity.” Nonprofit, ICONS and its supporters seek to achieve a level playing field in all women’s sports and defend the original intent of Title IX by develop, empower and protect women’s sport and female athletes of the past, present and future.

“The notion of what a woman is is being erased,” said Donna of Varona, ICONS speaker and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Title IX activist and first president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “It doesn’t just impact the sports market, of course it impacts all areas… Women are using [sports] as a basis for continuing in society and becoming leaders and productive individuals.

Several young athletes, including Riley Gaines and Taylor Silverman, shared their experiences of losing various awards and opportunities to biological males in women’s competitions. “It’s really hard to put into words the amount of work and sacrifice it takes to compete at the elite level,” said Gaines, a 12-time All American and four-time Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion. and record holder who started swimming. at four years old. She finished tied for fifth with biological swimmer Lia Thomas in the women’s 200-yard freestyle at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in March. The NCAA gave Thomas the fifth-place trophy. “Who took into account our feelings? Gaines asked. “And who has taken any responsibility since?”

Silverman, a top skateboarder with 11 years of experience, echoed similar dismay after recalling back-to-back losses to biological men in women’s competitions. “I have serious concerns about women’s skateboarding because it’s not necessarily something that’s been protected by Title IX,” she said, because skateboarding isn’t usually part of the school curriculum that receives funding from the federal government. “I know how much [unfair competition] is to transition into adulthood, I can’t imagine how I would feel at 13.

From the halls of Congress to the classrooms, experts said confusing definitions and interchangeable terminology have created a climate of public confusion, as well as fear of backlash among those — especially female biological athletes — who oppose policies affecting fairness in their sports. In a roundtable of doctors examining the science of sports, fair competition and testosterone, Dr. Ross Tuckerdoctor of exercise physiology and consultant for World Rugby, said that prioritizing the inclusion of biological male competitors in women’s sports ultimately undermines the purpose of the women’s category by compromising fairness and, in some sports, the safety of athletes.

“The women’s category serves a purpose: it excludes the impact of male or androgenic hormones on performance,” Dr. Tucker said. “Men have advantages ranging from 10% in speed and endurance, to 30% in power and up to 50% in strength, especially the upper body. He continued: “Documented biological changes with testosterone suppression have shown that most physiological systems relevant to athletic performance are minimally affected.”

In another session on the biology of sex, Dr. Colin Wright, Doctor of Evolutionary Biology, said: “Biological sex is a binary system, because there is no third or intermediate gamete, and therefore no third type of anatomy can develop to produce it. He explained that there are only two sexes in humans due to gametes, the reproductive cells of eggs in females and sperm in males. “All the different ways of arranging the sex chromosomes…are just variations within each sex. They are not entirely new sexes beyond males and females…There is a more fundamental attempt to just blurring the lines of what males and females are completely.

A panel of various women’s organizations and advocacy groups explored policies and politics affecting women’s sports. Kara Dansky, J.D., president of the US chapter of Women’s Declaration International (WDI), explained how the societal construction of gender is not the same as the biology of sex. “The use of the word ‘gender’ has crept into international law at an absolutely astonishing speed and pace,” Dansky said. “All Americans across the political spectrum know how babies are made, so [policymakers] have persuaded Americans of all political persuasions that “transgender people” are a significant category of people for whom gender is irrelevant – and it is not; it’s just a lie.

“Most federal laws are based on gender,” said Jessica Braceras, J.D., Title IX expert and director of the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF). “The Biden regulations … are so sweeping and groundbreaking because what they say is that sex, gender and gender identity all mean the same thing.”

Speaker ICONS Martina Navratilova, an internationally known LGBTQ+ rights activist and highly decorated tennis player with a total of 59 Grand Slam titles, pointed out that biological men competing in women’s sports is an undeniable issue of fairness. “I knew [professional tennis] that’s what I wanted to do,” Navratilova said. “I didn’t know where it would take me, but it was my dream… [Male competitors] were better, so it was always understood that it was split by gender… You can’t take that [male] advantage no matter what you do; we have categories in sports for a reason and this is the reason.

Three-time Olympic gold and silver medalist and civil rights advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar, JD, gave a presentation outlining other unfair treatment in women’s sport, including the significantly lower funding and number of women’s teams available at schools nationwide. Experts and athletes agree that activism and public engagement are necessary and essential to preserve Title IX and the protection of biological women. Although a full database is not available, sites such as savewomenssports.com capture some 80 biological men who have defeated women in women’s sports in recent years, and SheWon.org lists 156 female athletes who have lost to biological men in women’s sports.

With 18 states enacting laws to protect and save women’s sports for biological women, experts said the real solution is to get more high school and college female athletes to sue governing bodies of the sport. sport, such as the NCAA, and their schools. “We need people to speak up and take action,” said the IWF’s Braceras. “[The solution] it won’t be the left, it won’t be the right; it will be women working together,” WDI’s Dansky said. “Courage begets courage,” she said.

To date, a lawsuit regarding trans athletic competition has been filed – by two young track stars from Connecticut who shared their experience at the conference. Co-founder of ICONS Marshi Smith, an NCAA and Pac-10 champion, encourages more voice and bravery among athletes to bring greater empowerment and resilience. His open letter signed by 47 elite athletes and coaches that was sent to the NCAA Board of Governors in March, asking, Do women have a voice? remains unanswered. “With hard work and determination, we can accomplish anything,” Smith said. “I was sure someone else would provide fairness for our athletes, but that didn’t happen…ICONS exploded into what you see today.”

ICONS continues to grow its network and develop the resources women need to help shape decisions affecting their sports. You can learn more and join this global movement for equity in women’s sport by signing up for updates at www.iconswomen.com and following the ICONS page on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (all social IDs are @icons_women).

For questions or more information, please contact [email protected].

Marshi Smith
Independent Council on Women's Sports
[email protected]

Source: Independent Women’s Sport Council


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