Sharron Davies Saving Women’s Sport – Opinion.
Sharron Davies MBE (born 1962) is an English former competitive swimmer who represented Great Britain in the Olympics and European championships and competed for England in the Commonwealth Games. More recently, she has led a campaign to “save women’s sport.”
Save womens sport from what?
At first sight, that may seem highly admirable if women’s sport was genuinely threatened, but look more closely, and big cracks appear. In June 2022, World Aquatics (formerly FINA) announced that trans women were banned from competing with cisgender females. “Hoorah!” shouts Sharron Davies and her cohort; swimming leads the way – women’s sport is saved!
In some ways, that is true because World Aquatics did lead the way because they also announced that they would launch new events, especially for trans athletes, starting at the World Cup to be held in Berlin from October 6-8, 2023. One would have thought this would be the end of the matter, that trans people (specifically trans women) would win some medals and everyone would go home happy.
World Aquatics were so excited that they planned 50 and 100-metre races across different disciplines (Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly, etc), especially for trans people. I am unsure how Sharron Davies felt about this, but I suspect, given her previous comments about trans women, she wasn’t so happy about that. Inclusiveness is not precisely in the nature of those wanting to save women’s sports.
But then disaster!
Just days (3rd of October, to be exact) before the Swimming World Cup launches into its new season, World Aquatics makes an announcement – all the races for trans athletes are cancelled. Why?
There was not a single trans athlete entry at the swimming World Cup – nope, not a single one.
Of course, had World Aquatics (or Sharron Davies) asked the trans community, we could have told them, but when do minorities get a voice? Those who are transphobic claim they get “cancelled”, but in reality, it’s trans voices that dont get platformed by the likes of the BBC, an organisation that Sharron Davies works for.
The keyboard “transphobes” on X (formerly Twitter) is now claiming that the reason there are no trans women entries is that trans women only want to compete against women. Knowing athletes as I do, athletes just want to compete in meaningful competition.
Cisgender women outnumber trans women by a ratio of 633 to 1 (source England and Wales census 2021), and given some 50% of the trans community are reticent to leave their homes for fear of abuse on the streets, just how many trans athletes are there?
Clearly, very few, if any – and if any dare to show their face they get shot down by people like Sharron Davies and the media. No one doubts that trans women competing in the female sports category is a highly contentious issue. Still, there are ways trans women can be included in sports without impacting natal females.
The reason why World Aquatics reacted as they did by banning trans women was purely because a trans woman, Lia Thomas, won a university (NCAA) Championship.The NCAA was formed on March 31, 1906, in New York City. It was originally called the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) and was founded to reform the rules and regulations of college sports, particularly American football. The fact is Lia Thomas was the first trans athlete to win at the highest level (I exclude Div 2) in American university sports in a century.
Surely, this fact alone proves how many trans athletes there are at an elite level.
No one doubts that Sharron Davies is a passionate advocate for women’s sports and “clean” sport; she claims (rightly, in my opinion) that she was robbed of a gold medal by a drug cheat in the 1980 Olympics.
However, others have accused her of blatant transphobia.
Hopefully, as we advance, World Aquatics will listen to trans voices and not those who seek to exclude us.
Sharron Davies Saving Women’s Sport – is an opinion article.