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Transgender Athletes Breaking Records in Women's Sports

An increasing number of male athletes who identify as female are competing against women and breaking records along the way.
Grant Atkinson
Written by
Transgender-identifying athletes have competed against women in many sports, including track and field

Men don’t belong in women’s sports. It’s common sense. But in recent years, activists have started ignoring biological reality and advocating for male athletes who identify as female to be allowed to compete against women.

More and more male athletes have begun competing in numerous women’s sports around the world at both amateur and professional levels. And many of them are not just competing; they’re winning.

Several states, including Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Arkansas, and Florida, have passed laws protecting female athletes by ensuring only females compete in the women’s category. In 2021, West Virginia joined these states in passing legislation aimed at protecting women’s sports.

What is the WV transgender law?

West Virginia passed the Save Women’s Sports Act in April 2021. The law ensures women and girls in sports have equal opportunities to play without having to compete against male athletes. In addition, it protects women and girls from the injuries they could sustain in these situations.

The Save Women’s Sports Act is a commonsense law supported by basic science. Male athletes consistently run faster than female athletes, and there are many factors contributing to these faster times.

Men have greater bone size, more muscle mass and more heart and lung capacity than women, just to name a few. These differences give men advantages in other sports, too, which is why they should not be allowed to compete against women and girls.

But the American Civil Liberties Union has chosen to ignore these facts in pursuit of its political agenda. It filed a lawsuit challenging the Save Women’s Sports Act and asking a federal district court to allow male athletes to compete in women’s sports.

Alliance Defending Freedom intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of Lainey Armistead, a former women’s soccer player at West Virginia State University. As a dedicated female athlete, Lainey understands the importance of ensuring opportunities and safety for women in sports.

A federal district judge ruled in favor of Lainey in January 2023, allowing the Save Women’s Sports Act to go fully into effect. But the ACLU appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which granted a temporary injunction to allow the young male athlete in West Virginia to compete against women while the case is on appeal.

ADF is now asking the Supreme Court to reverse the 4th Circuit’s injunction and make it clear that West Virginia is free to allow only female athletes to compete in women’s sports.

Female athletes are losing opportunities

West Virginia is trying to protect female athletes with the Save Women’s Sports Law, but not every organization in sports has stood up for women. Many leagues around the world are simply letting male athletes compete against women. Below is a list of 29 sports in which male athletes have unfairly competed against women, and the list is not exhaustive.

  1. Women’s basketball – A 50-year-old, 6-foot-6-inch man, who played on a college men’s team 30 years prior, played on a women’s junior college basketball team.
  2. Women’s beach handball – A male athlete, who formerly played on an NCAA Division III women’s soccer team, now plays for Team USA Women’s Beach Handball.
  3. Women’s bodybuilding – A male who had competed in men’s bodybuilding in the past started competing as a woman.
  4. Women’s cricket – A male athlete competed on a women’s cricket team in England, and another male athlete previously did so in Australia.
  5. Women’s cross country – A male runner competed on an NCAA Division I women’s cross country team and was named the conference’s “Women’s Athlete of the Week.”
  6. Women’s cycling – A male athlete won gold in the women’s 200-meter sprint in both the 2018 and 2019 Masters Track Cycling World Championships. Another male cyclist first competed in the women’s category in 2017.
  7. Women’s disc golf – This male athlete has won two professional disc golf events in 2022, both in the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s Elite Series events.
  8. Women’s dodgeball – A male athlete who once competed on the Canadian men’s dodgeball team later competed on Canada’s women’s team.
  9. Women’s football – Several male athletes who had previously competed on men’s football teams now compete in women’s football (example here).
  10. Women’s golf – A male athlete is attempting to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Previously, a male athlete was approved to compete in the Ladies European Tour in 2004. And another male athlete was permitted to compete in the 2020 Women’s World Long Drive Competition.
  11. Women’s hockey – A male hockey player participated in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
  12. Women’s lacrosse – A 30-year-old male athlete competes on an NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse team.
  13. Women’s MMA (mixed martial arts) – A male MMA fighter who competed as a woman broke a female opponent’s eye socket and gave her a concussion. Years later, another male fighter competed as a woman and choked a female competitor into submission in the second round.
  14. Women’s mountain biking – A male athlete who previously competed in the men’s open division won back-to-back national championships in the women’s elite division in 2018 and 2019.
  15. Women’s powerlifting – A male powerlifter competed as a female and broke several records before being disqualified.
  16. Women’s roller derby – A male athlete is part of a women’s roller derby team that has won the world championship four times. And another male athlete was given a spot on the Team USA women’s roller derby team.
  17. Women’s rowing Two male athletes were part of a rowing team that competed in a women’s boat race in Canada.
  18. Women’s rugby – Several male athletes competed on women’s rugby teams. One was celebrated for injuring multiple female athletes. World Rugby finally barred males from competing against women in global competitions in 2020.
  19. Women’s running Three male runners were permitted to qualify and race as women at the 2018 Boston Marathon.
  20. Women’s skateboarding – A 29-year-old male athlete competed in a women’s street skateboarding competition in New York City and beat out a 13-year-old girl for first place.
  21. Women’s soccer – A male soccer player was given a spot on an NCAA Division III women’s soccer team.
  22. Women’s softball – A male high school student was given one of 15 spots on the girls’ varsity softball team.
  23. Women’s surfing – A male athlete who previously won a Western Australia state surfing championship in the men’s division competed in the women’s division in 2022 and won two women’s state championships.
  24. Women’s swimming – A male swimmer who competed on the men’s team for three years began competing on the women’s team and won a 2022 NCAA Championship in the 500-yard freestyle event. Another male swimmer competed on the men’s team for three years before competing on the women’s team and recording the fastest women’s times in three events at the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Championships as an exhibition swimmer.
  25. Women’s tennis This male tennis player competed in the 1977 U.S. Open as a woman.
  26. Women’s track and field ­ Two male athletes dominated girls’ high school competitions in Connecticut. A male athlete won first place in the women’s mile race at an NCAA Division I conference championship. And another male college athlete won the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division II women’s national championships.
  27. Women’s volleyball – A male athlete competed on an NCAA Division III women’s volleyball team. Male athletes have also competed on women’s professional teams in the U.S. and Brazil.
  28. Women’s weightlifting – This weightlifter qualified for and competed in the women’s category at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite being a male.
  29. Women’s wrestling – A male has competed in women’s professional wrestling.

We can no longer ignore that this is happening.

When males who identify as female are permitted to compete in women’s sports, it is women and girls who suffer. By being forced to compete against males, female athletes in contact sports will face safety risks. And female athletes across the board will see their athletic and academic opportunities limited. Women and girls will be stepping up to compete knowing that they cannot win.

In addition to concerns about fairness and safety, female athletes could lose the chance to earn monetary rewards for their athletic achievements. For many women, athletics are their best bet for a college scholarship. But now, men are being allowed to compete for these spots.

West Virginia lawmakers want to keep this injustice from happening in their state, and that is why they passed the Save Women’s Sports Act. The Supreme Court must understand the importance of this law and ensure West Virginia can protect female athletes from having to compete against males.

Ultimately, allowing males to participate in women’s sports denies the reality that sex is real and that it matters. Men have inherent physical advantages over women in sports, and that fact cannot be ignored. If we continue to deny reality, female athletes will not be the only ones who feel the impact. We all will.

We must speak up for women and girls. We must speak up for reality. Men and women are different, and that difference matters.

Grant Atkinson serves as Jr. Digital Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom
Grant Atkinson
Digital Writer
Grant serves as a Digital Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.