WASHINGTON, D.C. – Female athletes, coaches, parents, and advocates joined Independent Women’s Forum and 17 organizations across the political spectrum on Thursday, June 23rd, to rally for “Our Bodies, Our Sports.” The rally celebrated 50 years of Title IX and urged policymakers to help keep women’s sports female.
Since its passage, Title IX has transformed women’s sports by guaranteeing women equal access to athletic opportunities. Yet today, in the name of “inclusion,” countless female athletes are being sidelined to make room for biological males in women’s divisions. This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair.
Female athletes speaking out against this new misogyny included Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who tied transgender Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Swimming & Diving Championships; Taylor Silverman, a competitive skateboarder who lost 1st place to a male competitor at the Red Bull Cornerstone Contest; Madisan DeBos, cross country & track athlete at Southern Utah University whose women’s relay team lost to a team that included a male athlete; Cynthia Monteleone, a world champion track athlete who was forced to compete against a male athlete and whose daughter lost her first high school race to a different male athlete; Kim Jones, mother of an Ivy League swimmer who competed against Thomas all season & co-founder of Independent Council on Women’s Sports; and Macy Petty, NCAA volleyball player and Young Women for America leader.
They were joined by advocates for women’s sports, including Idaho state representative and former NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball coach Barbara Ehardt; Tulsi Gabbard, former U.S. Representative (D-HI); and Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum.
Gaines kicked off the rally, saying “There’s no equity, fairness, sportsmanship, or opportunity for women to succeed at an elite level without sex-based categories…If change is not made, it’s only the beginning of a slippery slope. It’s only a matter of time until one transgender athlete winning a national title in a women’s sport turns into three and then 10 and so on. Allowing male athletes to switch teams when they feel necessary is not only an infringement on female athletes but also a mockery of Title IX.”
Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum, joked, “What is a woman? Now, I feel like that’s become a bit of a punchline, but everyone here knows that this is no joke. The word woman is mentioned hundreds of times in our legal code. And if we can’t define the term woman, then we can’t stand up for women’s rights.”
“I had no idea what would happen when I spoke up for myself. I simply wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t know my story would become international news or that I’d be speaking here today, but I do know how painful it is to go through this, and it’s important to me that it doesn’t happen to more female athletes in any sports on any level,” said skateboarder Taylor Silverman. “We deserve fairness in sports, and we’re currently losing out on opportunities, titles, paychecks, scholarships, and more while being made to feel like we can’t receive what we’ve earned for our hard work and being made to feel unimportant in a space that was created for us.”
Team USA World Masters track athlete Cynthia Monteleone said, “So I stand before you today to encourage you to keep speaking up. Because I was told after I began to raise questions to keep my mouth shut for my own safety. But however, as you can see, I’m not keeping my mouth shut. I’m speaking louder than ever, because it’s these voices and these stories that you’re hearing today that are going to make a difference.”
To watch the replay of the rally, click here.
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.
Independent Women’s Network, a project of Independent Women’s Voice, in partnership with Independent Women’s Forum, is a positive, supportive community of engaged, informed, and activated women working together to inspire, interact, influence, and have impact.