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FLOWERS: I am Woman, Not Trans-Woman. Hear Me Roar

I’m not a feminist. I suppose I don’t even have to explain that to regular readers, but you never know if someone who just casually comes across one of my columns has that momentary thought of, “Oh, an immigration lawyer, a woman, kind of mouthy, yup, she’s a feminist.”

Aside from thinking that the label sounds more like a gastric condition than a revered identity, my biggest problem with the term is that it evokes troubling imagery of anger and resentment. Feminists are not happy people, despite the fact that they insist they are. There’s this idea that being unfettered by family obligations and traditional values frees us to be our best selves.  As the raven-haired daughter of Danny Thomas once told us, we are “Free to Be, You and Me (but not You, If You Vote the Wrong Way).”

​That being said, I find myself replaying Helen Reddy over and over in my head these days. “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” was a catchy tune that came out when I was in sixth grade at Merion Mercy, around the time that I was reading “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret.” The latter was a rite-of-passage book about getting your period for the first time, and how it defined being a woman. In my mind, those two things are closely connected, the ability to give life, and identity as a female. Biology is very much a part of being a woman, in my book.

Not everyone reads my book of course. Lately, the trans movement has gaslighted everyone into believing that gender and sex are simply societal constructs that can be changed at will, and whim. I know there are folks who have studied the whole issue of gender dysphoria and think my worldview is woefully simplistic and, more importantly, cruel. I am fully aware that even broaching the subject of gender in the context of biological reality is likely to get me hate mail.

It’s happened before, it will happen again. No surprise there, and no real regrets because I refuse to say that up is down and white is black. If you have a penis, you are not a woman. If you do not have a penis, you are not a man. You might identify as one, and you have a right to be respected as a child of God no matter how you present to the world. You can even have your gender changed on your birth certificate, and live your life as whatever sex gives you serenity, and calms the demons in your troubled soul.

But you cannot erase an entire group of people because of your own desire to reconcile the disconnect between your brain and your body. Let’s be blunt.

Rachel Levine, born Robert Levine, is not a biological woman. She, and I will use the pronoun she prefers, is a trans woman who began life as a male. She has every right to call herself whatever she wants, and many of us can respect her choices and her desire to live her adopted identity. But in pretending that she is an actual woman as opposed to a societal construct of a woman, we are telling women who grew up wondering when their periods were going to start that they are not exclusive.

They are simply an option. In other words, you don’t have to go through all of the trauma and triumph of being a biological female if you want to be called a Woman of the Year, as Levine was recently named by USA Today. You don’t have to have spent your earlier years struggling to make it in a man’s world, or deal with actual gender discrimination, or sexual harassment, or all of the other things that are common in the female experience. You just have to one day come out as female and demand that the world accept you as such. Even if you had a nice run as a male, in a society that rewarded you for being “not female.”

And then there’s Lia Thomas, the biological male who stole a women’s swimming title from actual women. “Her” victory is an affront to every girl who got up in the dark, pre-dawn hours and did endless, tedious, soul-crushing laps, end to end, reaching toward the glistening brass ring. Instead, a social phenomenon grasped it, stole it, and smiled as others cheered. Devastating and infuriating at the same time. An assault on women.

For a woman who started out saying she’s not a feminist, I sound a lot like a feminist.  But I’m really not.  I’m more of a humanist, and by that I mean I find value in the human condition alone. I believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity regardless of any extrinsic labels. Women who achieve great things are simply people who have achieved great things. Men who take their daughters to school and feed them breakfast are simply great parents (as well as achieving one of the greatest things, nurturing a child.) Gender is irrelevant to accomplishment.

Except when society decides to make gender relevant to accomplishment, as when we elect “Woman of the Year.” In that case, and even though I’m not a fan of Women’s History Month and Women’s Studies syllabi and all that stuff, I think that the person being picked as an exceptional woman should actually be a woman.

You might say that trans women are women, and according to the most enlightened standards of society you would be right. But a man who decided he was actually a woman trapped inside of a man’s body is very different from a woman who did the heavy lifting all of her life and scaled a mountain in stilettos, and backward (with apologies to Ginger Rogers.) If you are going to reward womanhood, please find a woman.

The fair thing would be to have “Trans Person of the Year,” if we really want to make gender a part of accomplishment. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that, and I also believe it would honor trans individuals a lot more than lumping them in with the gender they ultimately embraced. After all, it takes courage to say that you are unhappy in your own skin, and then try and do something about it.

But you don’t get to erase me, a woman, because you did something about it. I am woman, and you damn well better hear me roar.

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VOGEL: Allowing Biological Men to Compete Against Women Athletes Is Absurd

Americans across the country watched aghast as collegiate swimmer Lia Thompson, a biological male who was a mediocre competitor against other men, qualified to compete in the NCAA Women’s Championships. To most people here in Pennsylvania’s Sixth District, allowing men to compete against women in women’s sport is absurd, and they’re right.

Mothers and fathers across this district spend countless years and dollars driving their daughters to practice, paying for uniforms and trips, providing moral support and watching their daughters compete in hopes of snagging athletic scholarships. These scholarships exist as a result of hard-won political battles a generation ago to establish equitable Title IX Act (1972) funding for girls’ sport.

But now all of that is put at risk as girls’ college and high school athletics are at risk of becoming a league dominated by men.

But our representative in Congress, Chrissy Houlahan, doesn’t just disagree with the common-sense notion that biological men shouldn’t compete in girls’ sports, she supports codifying into federal law the right of men to elect to compete in women’s sports via the so-called “Equality Act.”

And for Rep. Houlahan, support for the intrusion of biological men into women’s spaces doesn’t stop with athletic programs. Federal legislation that she supports would give these men access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, prisons, and even battered women’s shelters.

As the father of a young daughter, I find this as dangerous as it is absurd. And having spoken to other parents here in Berks and Chester counties, I know I’m not alone.

But Chrissy Houlahan doesn’t care what her constituency thinks. She’s more concerned with scoring points with the ‘woke’ left. While she’s campaigned as a moderate, she’s become one of the most liberal elected officials in the entire country.

When I am elected to replace her, I will not only oppose the Equality Act, but I will go on offense against this invasion of women’s sports and spaces. I will introduce legislation to restrict any federal funds from any state school system or college or university that allows biological men into girls’ sports. I will also fight to restrict funding from any government-grant funded program that does not recognize the inherent distinction between men and women.

This issue isn’t just about trophies. This is about preserving the wins for women’s rights secured over generations going back to the suffragist movement. This is about allowing women to feel safe and secure in their own spaces. This is about standing up to the backwards and destructive woke-ism that destroys everything it touches.

On this and many other issues, Chrissy Houlahan is out of touch with the values of our district, and that is something that we can correct in the November General Election. Unlike Chrissy Houlahan, I will be a champion for women’s sports and spaces, and I humbly ask for your vote.

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GIORDANO: Transgender Swimmer Tilts Playing Field Against Women on Team

Sports have always been a big part of my life. In the first grade, I started playing basketball in a South Philly CYO league and played in very competitive leagues well into my 40s. Sports appealed to me because of the competition, the thrill of winning, and learning how to deal with defeat.

The playing of sports was only surpassed, eventually, by the fun and thrill of coaching my sons in various sports. I also enjoyed seeing my five sisters play in CYO leagues and eventually at the high school and college levels. When they started, society was just beginning to realize the value of women’s sports in developing young women as teammates and leaders.

Therefore, when I see the controversy over transgender Penn swimmer Lia Thomas shattering women’s swimming records, I ask, isn’t anybody in authority going to step in and restore opportunity for women to compete fairly in their sport?

On my radio show last week, I asked that question of Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time gold medalist and four-time medalist in swimming at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and now a civil rights attorney who is advising 16 Penn women’s team swimmers who recently drafted a letter that said they didn’t believe Thomas should be allowed to compete.

Hogshead-Makar told me women who objected to Thomas were told, “If they speak out, they will never get a job again.” In other words, their desire to have an even playing field would be seen as discriminatory and they would carry that stigma for a long time. Hogshead-Makar likened the situation American swimmers faced during her career when they faced East German women swimmers who were doping. She recalled that they were coached to be gracious losers.

Whether or not her comparison is completely correct, she is right that the other Penn swimmers can’t compete with Thomas.

She went on to clearly detail Thomas’ advantages. First, she pointed out that the average qualifying differential for NCAA swimming events is 11.4 percent faster for men. To put this in perspective, legendary swimmer Michael Phelps held just a .08 percent of an advantage over his U.S. teammates in the 100-meter butterfly in the 2004 Olympics. However, she points out, Phelps held a 12.62 percent advantage over the women’s gold medalist, Australian Petria Thomas.

Throughout my talk with Hogshead-Makar she repeated that she is not in any way anti- transgendered people. However, she thought the situation involving Thomas would only breed resentment. She wants sports to make space for transgendered athletes but not at the expense of opportunities for women.

The most compelling part of my interview with Hogshead-Makar was our discussion of what could be done to aid the Penn swimmers. We know that if they speak out publicly, they will be stigmatized now, and they will have difficulty with being hired in many situations in the future. She proposed a solution. She told me she is on a public and private campaign to get swimming icons, sports icons, and others to stand up for women in sports and particularly the Penn swimmers who object to Lia Thomas.

That would seem to be an easy thing to do, but I believe it will also take a lot of courage. Twitter and the rest of social media will not be kind to those who speak up for the women. I hope they also remind the University of Pennsylvania that they are not fulfilling their duty to protect female athletes and they shouldn’t posture that they are a place that truly wants to advance women.

Women athletes have come a long way, but this university is not continuing their progress.

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