When a person applies for a job, he or she first tries to understand what the job is to see whether there is a match between interests, skills and needs. Crucial in many situations is the written job description.
Job descriptions are seldom perfect when it comes to requirements. I have applied for jobs that were marginally matched (or not at all matched) to my education and work history. My favorite was one that advertised a job for a mechanical engineer but then changed to electrical engineer without ever revising the description. Why they bothered to interview me is a mystery to this day, but the entire interview lasted about 2 minutes. Now on to the issue:
Recently, a member of the University of Pennsylvania women’s team set a bunch of national and world records during a competition. The records being set weren’t just by a few tenths of a second, but by tens of seconds and, in one case, nearly a minute. The record setter turned out to be an individual who transgendered from the UPenn men’s swimming team to the women’s swimming team. At a recent swim meet, the swim records of the naturally born female members of the Pennsylvania women’s team were destroyed as were some national swim records. Not surprisingly, many of the biological women on the Pennsylvania women’s swim team have expressed anger at what happened. A couple of women swimmers went to the press anonymously to talk about the team’s frustrations and tears.
The plot, of couse, thickens as parents of these young biological women swimmers have now officially complained about the situation. To quote from their letter to the NCAA:
“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports,” “The precedent being set – one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete – is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?”
Of course, the University of Pennsylvania also responded. Here is their “extremely forceful and overwhelmingly something or other” response:
“Please know that we fully support all our swimming student-athletes and want to help our community navigate Lia’s (Thomas) success in the pool this winter. Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future.”
It is noteworthy that the Parent’s letter also challenged the NCAA to be fair to Lia Thomas instead of sweeping the controversy under the rug. Here is the part of the letter that does so:
“As the governing body, it is unfair and irresponsible to leave the onus on Lia, Lia’s teammates, Lia’s coaches, UPenn athletics and the Ivy League. And it is unfair and irresponsible to Lia to allow the media to dictate the narrative without the participation of the NCAA,”
There are some other significant quotes from parents that are not part of the Parent’s letter. Here they are in no particular order:
“They (the naturally born women) feel so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they’re going to lose,”
“I think that transgender people have a right to compete, but they need to have their own league,” “Being fair to one group of people shouldn’t take rights away from another group, and that’s what’s happening here.”
“The NCAA obviously didn’t think much about the rules they set,” “It’s not fair to the women on the team and it’s not fair to Lia as well. She went through transition, and I admire her bravery. But the records she sets now are not valued records, female records.”
Here is where a good job description comes in. Apparently, the NCAA, while fully supporting transgender athletes in all sports, has an overly broad definition of female – and includes almost anyone who can claim to be female or in transition to female. So, while naturally born females fit the description, so do reconstructed or under reconstruction females who fit the testosterone suppression guidelines.
A quick review of the NCAA guidelines shows that the transgender issue isn’t just limited to swimming. Transitioned athletes have won women’s sports competitions in weight lifting, track and field, and some other individual sports. It is only a matter of time before a team comprised of transgender women wins some team competitions. (A bit of history here. In 1975, Renee Richards, a men’s tour tennis professional, transitioned to a woman at age of 41. She is quoted as saying that had she transitioned in her 20s she would have won Wimbledon.)
So, let’s get back to the job description. It is clear that somebody better come up with a good job description that protects the rights and interests of naturally born females without destroying the interests of transgenders.