'Women are going to be watching their own sports from the sidelines,’ student-athlete warns at CPAC

Student-athlete Linnea Saltz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27, 2021.
Student-athlete Linnea Saltz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27, 2021. | YouTube/The Sun

A female student-athlete warned that women will soon “be watching their own sports from the sidelines" because males who identify as female are being allowed to compete in women's sports and they're winning. 

On Saturday, a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference discussed the consequences of allowing boys who identify as female to compete in girls' sports, three days after the House passed the Equality Act that contains a provision enabling trans-identified athletes to compete on the teams that correspond with their gender identity. 

Moderated by Terry Schilling, the executive director of the socially conservative American Principles Project, participants in the discussion were student-athlete Linnea Saltz and South Dakota state Rep. Rhonda Milstead.

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Milstead, a Republican, introduced House Bill 1217, which would prevent biological males from competing against biological females in women’s sports. The bill passed the South Dakota House earlier this week by a margin of 50-17. 

“There’s nothing more under attack today than women’s sports,” Schilling said as he kicked off the panel discussion, which was titled “My Pronouns are First Place and Winning: Protecting Women’s Sports.”

Schilling asked Saltz, a fifth-year graduate student whose eligibility to compete in the NCAA was extended due to the coronavirus, to describe her experience competing against biological males.

Saltz told Schilling that she did not have to compete against biological males for the majority of her athletic career. Circumstances changed during her senior year, her fourth year of eligibility to participate in the NCAA.

“My coaches called me over the summer of 2019 and let me know that an athlete that … I had previously been seeing competing in the male category was now going to be competing in the female category.

“It was really just a discouraging moment for me to hear that someone that had been running not only 10 seconds faster than me in my event, but running a world record time for women previously as a male, is now competing against us as females, was really just an interesting kind of situation and it was really hard to … understand,” she recalled.

Schilling asked Saltz what women’s sports would look like down the road if the practice of allowing males who identify as transgender to compete in women’s sports expanded.

“I feel as if women are going to be watching their own sports from the sidelines,” Saltz warned. “We’re no longer going to be wanting to compete in sports where we don’t feel as if we’re competing on a level playing field. … The reason that I decided to speak out about something like this is because fairness in women’s sports is so important to me.

“If we’re allowing biological males that possess physiological advantages over biological females to compete in the female category, we’re no longer going to be interested in competing and being a part of sports, which is such a big part of my identity,” she added.

“If we continue to allow this to happen, things like Title IX are just going to be reversed and women aren’t going to want to be in competitive sports anymore and it’s just going to completely go against what we stand for and so, it’s kind of upsetting to see.”

“It’s absolutely insane,” Schilling agreed.

After mentioning that she gets up at 5:45 a.m. and practices for two hours, then drives to work where she spends all day and then goes to online school at night, Saltz explained that having to compete against biological males will make her and other female athletes “not motivated,” adding, “we’re not going to want to stay in this sport that we love so much.” 

When asked to give a message to transgender athletes who want to compete in the sports that correspond with their gender identities, Saltz stressed that “there’s no part of me that doesn’t want to be inclusive.”

“Obviously, I’m looking for proposed solutions that would create inclusion for everybody, but not at the exclusion of biological women. … People don’t realize that by being inclusive in that sense, it is exclusionary to people like me. We don’t want men’s and coed sports; we want men’s and women’s sports,” Saltz continued. “Gender identity doesn’t erase physiological advantages and that’s just something we have to remember.”

Milstead added, “The underlying message here to me is that … if we allow males to compete in girls’ sports, we’re telling those females that they aren’t important, and what is that going to do to our future?” 

The lawmaker explained that sports have played a role in the success of women in America, and noted that “if we take that away from them, we’re telling them that it’s not important anymore ...

“On the flip side, if you have males that are competing against females and they’re winning because they have a physical advantage, we’re telling them that it’s OK to be superior and almost to bully, and I don’t think that’s a message we want to send to any child in this country.” 

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