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The Long (and Growing) List of Women’s Sports Where Men Are Competing… And Winning

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
January 22, 2020

Men don’t belong in women’s sports. It’s common sense. But by now, you’ve likely heard about two male athletes who identify as female sweeping high school girls’ track competitions in Connecticut—winning 15 state titles that were previously held by nine different girls.

This may seem like an isolated incident. After all, this issue may not be happening in your town… yet. But it’s probably a lot more prevalent than you think.

It certainly surprised me to learn that a male swimmer had competed in NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming.

Did you hear about this?

As a longtime swimmer myself, I was never forced to race against men or compete with them for a college scholarship. So, it was easy to assume that women’s swimming remained just that, a women’s sport.

But a little research showed me that’s not the case.

A male athlete who competed with the Southern Illinois University men’s swim team for three seasons swam in the women’s conference championship senior year as Natalie Fahey. Though Fahey swam exhibition (an exhibition athlete cannot score points), Fahey’s times would have earned first place in the conference in the 200, 500, and 1650-yard freestyle events.

Track and swimming are not the only sports where male athletes are competing as women, however. I found 23 more! And this list is likely not even 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 – Two male athletes compete on women’s cricket teams, one in Australia and one in England.
  5. Women’s Cross Country – A male runner competes 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 – Several male athletes have participated in women’s cycling events (examples here and here).
  7. Women’s Dance – A male dancer is training to dance professionally as a female ballerina.
  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 (examples here and here).
  10. Women’s Golf – A male athlete was approved to compete in the Ladies European Tour in 2004. And another male athlete was recently permitted to compete in the 2020 Women’s World Long Drive Competition.
  11. Women’s Hockey – A male hockey player participates in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
  12. Women’s MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) – A male MMA fighter who competes as a woman broke a female opponent’s eye socket and gave her a concussion.
  13. Women’s Powerlifting – A male powerlifter competed as a female and broke several records before being disqualified.
  14. Women’s Roller Derby – A male athlete is part of a women’s roller derby team that has won the world championships three times. And another male athlete is poised to be the next women’s roller derby star.
  15. Women’s Rowing Two male athletes were part of a rowing team that competed in a women’s boat race in Canada.
  16. Women’s Rugby – Several male athletes compete on women’s rugby teams. One is celebrated for injuring the female athletes they play against.
  17. Women’s Running Three male runners were permitted to qualify and race as women at the 2018 Boston Marathon.
  18. Women’s Soccer – A male athlete earned a spot on an NCAA Division III women’s soccer team.
  19. Women’s Softball – A male high school student earned one of 15 spots on the girls’ varsity softball team.
  20. Women’s Swimming – A male swimmer competed on the men’s team for three years before competing on the women’s team.
  21. Women’s Tennis This male tennis player competed in the 1977 U.S. Open as a woman.
  22. Women’s Track & Field ­Two male athletes are sweeping the girls’ high school competitions in Connecticut. A male athlete in Alaska competed and placed at the girls’ state championships. And another male college athlete won the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division II women’s national championships.
  23. Women’s Volleyball – A male athlete competes 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.
  24. Women’s Weightlifting – This Australian weightlifter set masters world records in the women’s category despite being a male.
  25. Women’s Wrestling – A male competes in women’s professional wrestling.

We cannot pretend this isn’t happening.

When males who identify as female are permitted to compete in women’s sports, it is women and girls that 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. For many women, athletics are their best bet for a college scholarship. But now men are also being allowed to compete for these spots.

That’s exactly what is happening in Connecticut. And it’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of three female track athletes who are losing out on opportunities to compete and win.

The situation in Connecticut is just one example of what women and girls across the country will face if we don’t stand up and make our voices heard.

Ultimately, allowing males to participate in women’s sports denies the reality that sex is real and that it matters. If we continue to deny that 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.

Make your voice heard. Sign the petition today to encourage the Trump Administration and members of Congress to safeguard the athletic and academic futures of young women across the country.

Sign the Petition

Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.