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I'm a Middle-School Female Athlete, Fighting with Champions like Martina Navratilova to Protect Women's Sports

If West Virginia allows boys to play in girls' sports, I'd lose my dream.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Middle-school athlete Taylor Allen from West Virginia is seen holding a basketball

I am a middle-schooler in West Virginia. I’m also an athlete; I play girls’ basketball and run on the girls’ track team. And I just filed a brief in court with other female athletes, even Olympians and champions like Martina Navratilova, to protect women’s sports in my home state.

In all, there are 78 female athletes, coaches, sports officials, and parents of female athletes, including another middle-school girl from West Virginia. We all believe – along with the filers of 14 other briefs – that girls’ and women’s sports can only survive if they are reserved for females, and that the law ensuring that survival in my state should be upheld.

Athletics, and especially basketball, is one of the most important things in my life. Besides practices, I go to the gym with my teammates on the weekends. We lift and do speed drills. Often when I come home, I go for a run to increase my endurance. I want to be one of the best players on the court. That takes hard work, but I’m willing to do it – not just for me, but for my team.

The case in my home state, like others around the country, is about whether boys should be able to play in girls’ sports if they identify as girls. The truth is, if West Virginia allowed that at my school, I’d lose my dream. There’s no way I could be one of the best players if there were boys on the court with me. That’s why I was so relieved when I heard that West Virginia passed a law protecting women’s sports (including middle-school girls’ teams) and our right to fair play.

Sadly, not everyone thinks girls deserve a level playing field. 

When West Virginia passed its law, the ACLU sued on behalf of a boy who identifies as a girl. After seeing all the arguments and science, the lower court upheld the law. But then, the appeals court temporarily put the law on hold without explaining why and is allowing the boy who sued to play on girls-only teams.

You might think that this isn’t a big deal – that middle school girls like me don’t really care. But we do care… a lot. 

Even in middle school, boys on average have biological physical advantages that my teammates and I could never hope to beat. They are faster, bigger and stronger; they can jump higher, and their endurance is longer. In athletics, that all matters. The best players on a team get the most time with the ball; they get to pass and receive more. They get to take shots. 

One of my friends has an older sister who plays on a co-ed team, and she has noticed that the girls on the team get much less play time than the boys, because the boys don’t pass to the girls. If my basketball team suddenly had boys on it, that would take opportunities to succeed away from girls.

Something like this has already happened across the country and even in West Virginia. In fact, when the West Virginia law was put on hold for a short time, middle-school girls alone were displaced over 100 times by a boy. Those are 100 opportunities that girls like me have lost out on – forever. We’ll never get those back.

If boys get to play on girls’ teams, the team that I love so much would go away. We would end up with two boys’ teams: one of boys who call themselves boys, and one of boys who identify as girls but dominate and control the girls’ team.

When males play on girls’ teams, girls can get seriously hurt. Every time we go out on the court to play, we are giving it our all. That means our bodies are being pushed to the limit. Introduce a bigger, stronger, heavier, faster player into the mix, and suddenly we’re all a lot more afraid of being injured.

Just having a boy on the court is scary. It changes the whole dynamic for the girls out there. We play less confidently. Anyone who has brothers or has ever played on a co-ed team gets this. Being run into by another girl at full speed can hurt, but usually we can shake it off and keep playing; being run into by a boy at full speed could lead to a serious injury. Allowing males to play on girls’ teams wouldn’t just change girls’ sports, it would destroy it.

None of this is fair. Allowing boys to take over girls’ teams means that, no matter how hard I work, I can’t be the best on my team. That’s incredibly discouraging to me, and I bet it’s discouraging to girls of all ages who have worked so hard for a fair shot. 

That’s why I’m standing up now to be heard. I want the fair chance to compete and to win, for me and for others. I just hope our voice won’t be ignored.

Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF team members contributed to the writing and publication of this article.