In 1974, in preparation for my freshman year at U.C. Davis, I reserved a room in a high-rise dorm on campus. It was centrally located and would allow me to quickly forge friendships with roommates who, just like me, were suffering from an odd combination of euphoria and anxiety.
While the building was co-educational, every other level was reserved for women allowing them the private use of the hallways and bathrooms associated with their floors – or so I thought. During the intervening months between registration and the first day of school, the University decided to sexually integrate the entire building with only curtains in the disparate parts of the bathrooms separating the men from the women. What could possibly go wrong? Just a short time after ditching my dorm room for an apartment off campus, there was an attempted rape.
It occurred to me at the time (and I continue to believe) that there was no common-sense reason for the university’s decision other than the pursuit of an ideological agenda (perhaps government driven) to the potential detriment of a segment of the female student body. The same motivation seems to apply to President Biden’s recent decision to compel schools across the country to once again allow transgender athletes to participate in women’s sports further distorting, in my opinion, the original intent of Title IX.
In an article entitled “The Strange Evolution of Title IX”, R. Shep Melnick, a professor of American Politics at Boston College and co-chair of the Harvard Program of Constitutional Government, chronicles the convoluted manner in which a federal regulation, intended to eliminate discrimination in educational programs and activities at federally-funded institutions based on biological sex, has been skewed in such a way as to make the original intent of the regulation almost unrecognizable.
Despite the success of Title IX in facilitating gains by women in overall school enrollment numbers, participation in advanced placement courses, receipt of doctorate degrees and engagement in extracurricular activities, the implementation of Title IX has become increasingly contentious.
According to Melnick, “intercollegiate athletics dominated the debate until 2011” when sexual harassment became the new centerpiece of discussion. Five years later, the Office for Civil Rights under the Department of Education yet again shifted the focus, this time to transgender rights, requiring access to bathrooms, showers and dorm rooms based on “gender identity” rather than biological sex. What could possibly go wrong?
While few people would dispute the need for equal treatment in workplace and health care settings, potentially eviscerating women’s athletics (which for many girls is a pathway to financial aid and academic achievement) to advance a narrowly focused social agenda is patently unfair. Title IX was passed to guarantee equal educational opportunities for girls allowing them separate sports programs in recognition of the demonstrable physical differences between males and females. Allowing transgender girls with the physiological attributes of males to compete against biological girls is inequitable and makes no logical sense.
While I sympathize with people who suffer from gender dysphoria, I agree with Donna Lopiano, the former head of the Women’s Sports Foundation, when she insists, “…the cost of treating (a transgender girl) fairly should not come at the cost of discriminating against biologically-female-at birth women.”
As suggested by tennis great Martina Navratilova, transgender girls and women who “have experienced all or part of male puberty could have their athletic skills honored in other ways through separate heats or additional events or divisions” just as the Special Olympics accommodates other categories of athletes.
Fundamental fairness dictates that the majority not be disadvantaged by the few especially when reasonable alternatives are available.
Shelly Aldean in a Carson City resident.