Story at a glance
- Former President Trump on Saturday said he would ban transgender women from women’s sports if he is re-elected president.
- Trump called out UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas during a rally in Texas, repeatedly misgendering her and falsely claiming that she had broken an 11-year-old swimming record.
- Trump on Saturday also referenced an unnamed trans female weightlifter who had broken an unidentified two-decade old record.
Former President Donald Trump at a rally in Texas over the weekend pledged to ban transgender women from participating in women’s sports if he were re-elected president.
“We will ban men from participating in women’s sports,” Trump told a crowd in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday. “So ridiculous.”
Trump called out Lia Thomas, a transgender female swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, and falsely claimed she had in December shattered an 11-year-old swimming record by 38 seconds.
At the Zippy Invitational in Ohio — the swim meet Trump referenced — Thomas won the 1,650-yard freestyle by 38 seconds, but did not set a record in that event.
Trump on Saturday also repeatedly misgendered Thomas, referring to her using male pronouns.
He also suggested that an unidentified 20-year-old women’s weightlifting record had been broken by a transgender female athlete, claiming the unnamed athlete, who according to Trump had never weightlifted competitively, beat the competition by “many, many, many, many, many, many pounds.”
Trump has in the past voiced his disapproval for the participation of transgender women in women’s sports.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., last year, Trump called transgender female athletes “biological males,” a term which, according to the LGBTQ+ media watchdog GLAAD, is “problematic” in its oversimplification of gender identity.
“Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males,” Trump said at the time. “It’s not good for women. It’s not good for women’s sports, which worked for so long and so hard to get to where they are.”
He later added, “If this does not change, women’s sports as we know it will die.”
The participation of transgender athletes like Thomas has drawn fierce criticism, which advocates say conservatives are capitalizing on to drive more voters to the polls, NBC News reported.
Still, according to a Gallup poll published last year, 62 percent of Americans believe transgender athletes should only be permitted to play on sports teams that correspond to their gender assigned at birth, while 34 percent said transgender athletes should be allowed to play on teams that align with their gender identity.
The NCAA in January updated its eligibility requirements for transgender athletes, which are now to be determined by the national governing body of each sport.
It’s a shift from the previous 2010 policy, which stated that a female athlete could compete for a collegiate women’s sports team after completing a full year of testosterone suppression treatment.
The new policy “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete,” the NCAA said in a statement in January. It also aligns with recent changes made by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.
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