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Happiness for me, but not for thee

Christiana Kiefer | Male athletes “transition to be happy,” but the happiness of females doesn’t matter


Lia Thomas competing at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March Associated Press/Photo by John Bazemore

Happiness for me, but not for thee
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In today’s culture, claiming that something makes you “happy” or “fulfilled” is a surefire way to get approval from the media—as long as what you’re doing lines up with the progressive agenda. But when one of these “fulfilling” choices ends up ignoring, undermining, or denigrating the happiness of others, it’s time to ask whether that choice is “courageous” or merely selfish.

Recently, a pair of media reports included statements from two different transgender athletes—male athletes who identify as female. The statements reveal that the two have bought into the cultural lie that, as long as their actions make them feel “fulfilled,” it doesn’t matter how those actions affect others.

Lia Thomas is a male athlete at the University of Pennsylvania who began presenting as a woman before the 2021-2022 academic year. Thomas, who previously competed on the men’s swimming and diving team, crushed the competition in the women’s events. Thomas went from ranking nationally 554th in the 200-yard freestyle, 65th in the 500 freestyle, and 32nd in the 1,650 freestyle on the men’s team to snatching fifth, first, and eighth, respectively, in the NCAA women’s championships by competing as a woman. Thomas was even celebrated as “Swimmer of the Meet” at the Ivy League Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships—an honor taken from a female athlete.

Speaking with Good Morning America at the end of May, Thomas refused to acknowledge that males competing in women’s sports negatively affect female athletes. Instead, Thomas insisted that the real issue isn’t how many females see their athletic dreams stolen by a male; the issue is how fulfilled male athletes feel. “Trans people don’t transition for athletics; we transition to be happy,” Thomas said.

That may be true, so far as it goes. But the fact remains that, in Thomas’s quest for happiness, numerous young women have seen their dreams dashed. Title IX, which turned 50 years old on June 23, was designed to protect fair competition for women—meaning competition where they have a legitimate chance to win. Competing against a male is not fair competition.

The Bible warns that all of us tend toward self-centeredness, toward believing that our own happiness is the most important thing in the world—even if it involves robbing countless others of happiness.

Going toe-to-toe with a male is disheartening for female athletes, since they know before they even begin that their male competitor has an undeniable biological advantage. As Dr. Michael Joyner told The New York Times, there are “dramatic differences in performances” between biological males and females, especially after puberty. (Though, of course, we saw just how much science matters in progressive ideology when a California appellate court recently ruled that, under the state’s Endangered Species Act, bees can qualify as fish.)

Thomas, like other male athletes, tends to brush all that aside. Speaking with Good Morning America, Thomas likened male athletes’ advantages to “women who are very tall and very muscular.” That is a staggering oversimplification. While there are certainly variations in female height and musculature, no variation in strength, speed, and stamina comes close to the difference conferred by biological sex and physical development.

But don’t let biology and science get in the way of personal happiness—or personal “truth.”

Quinn (who uses only one name), a biological female who now presents as male, played on the Canadian women’s soccer team that took home gold in last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. We might expect that being female would cultivate some empathy for the challenges female athletes are facing today, but in an article celebrating Pride Month, Quinn’s words reveal the opposite. In an Instagram post after winning the Olympic title, Quinn did not say anything about the importance of protecting women’s sports. Instead, the post pushed for lawmakers to allow more and more males to compete on women’s teams and in women’s events so that these males could live “their truth.”

There’s a word for this. It’s not a pretty one, and it’s not one our culture has much room for. The word is “selfishness.” Christians know that selfishness is nothing to be surprised by. The Bible warns that all of us tend toward self-centeredness, toward believing that our own happiness is the most important thing in the world—even if it involves robbing countless others of happiness. What’s happening in women’s athletics may be new, but it’s just the latest twist on an old, old story.

In a culture that is swept up in a stampede for self-fulfillment above all, Christians have an opportunity to serve those being trampled. Today, female athletes are being ignored and silenced. We must be their voice.


Christiana Kiefer

Christiana Kiefer is legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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