At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday entitled “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans,” a queer activist witness refused to acknowledge any difference between biological men and women.
President of the Human Rights Campaign Kelley Robinson, who describes herself as “the first Black, Queer woman to lead the organization,” claimed in Wednesday’s hearing that female tennis legend Serena Williams could beat men at the sport, in efforts to deny that men had any advantage over women in athletic competitions.
Robinson was cross examined by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on her beliefs regarding the parity of the biological sexes.
KENNEDY: You don’t believe that a biological male has a physical advantage in sports over a biological female?
ROBINSON: Not as a definitive statement.
KENNEDY: Give me an example…how many female members of the NBA do you see?
ROBINSON: Well I can say that, you know, there’s been this news article about men that think that they can beat Serena Williams in tennis. Right? That they think that they could actually score a point on her. And it’s just not the case.
Robinson was then challenged by fellow witness Riley Gaines, a two-time Olympic trial qualifying swimmer and former teammate of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas at the University of Kentucky.
“Both Serena and Venus [Williams] lost to the 203rd ranked male tennis player, which they’re phenoms for women,” Gaines said.
“In terms of accolades and in terms of national ranking, I was a much better swimmer than [Thomas], he could kick my butt any day of the week, without trying,” she said.
Gaines was snubbed out of a fifth place trophy in the 200-yard freestyle event at the 2022 NCAA swimming championships because she was competing with Thomas, a biological male.
When Gaines and Thomas for fifth place down to the one-hundredth of a second, the NCAA decided to present Thomas with the trophy, leaving Gaines empty handed.
“In addition to being forced to give up our awards, our titles, and our opportunities, the NCAA forced me and my female swimmers to share a locker room with Thomas, a 6’4” 22-year-old male equipped with (and exposing) male genitalia,” Gaines said in her emotional testimony.
Gaines testified that neither her nor her teammates were forewarned that a biological male would be undressing in front of them, nor did they give their consent to be forced to undress in front of Thomas.
“Although the NCAA claimed it acted in the name of “inclusion,” its policies, in fact,
excluded female athletes, the very athletes whom Title IX was passed to protect,” Gaines testified.
The former of teammate of Lia Thomas also responded to a statement by the transgender female swimmer.
Thomas said that people like Gaines “are using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs.”
“Feminism is not a fluid term. The original and the meaning of what it means to be a feminist is to uphold, respect, honor, embrace and celebrate women on our own physical ceilings, our own uniqueness,” Gaines said. “That term has not changed.”
“What this really is, is a male mansplaining what it is to be a feminist, which I honestly think is pretty ironic, and it’s something we’ve seen before,” she said.
Robinson, the queer human rights activist, was also pressed by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to acknowledge the difference between biological men and women, which she refused to do five times.
CRUZ: I’m just asking is there a difference between women and men?
ROBINSON: I mean, what I can say here is the NCAA has rules in place, they’ve had rules in place for the last decade, and when this competition [happened] the rules were clear.
CRUZ: Okay, I’m gonna try again. Do you believe there’s a difference between women and men? It’s a yes-no question, do you believe there’s a difference?
ROBINSON: I think that we’re talking about this case with the NCAA-
CRUZ: No, I’m asking a question: Do you believe there’s a difference between women and men? Most people could answer this very simply, I’m curious if you’re willing to do so.
ROBINSON: Oh absolutely, I’m just putting into the context of the conversation that we’re having.
CRUZ: Is that a yes?
ROBINSON: I think that there are definitions related to sex, but I also think that there are-
CRUZ: I’m just trying to get a yes or no, I’m not trying to get a speech. Is there a difference between women and men?
ROBINSON: I think that there are definitions for biological sex which is different from gender.
Sen. Cruz then changed tact, asking Robinson why women’s sports exist, if Robinson cannot define a difference between women and men.
“Why not abolish women’s sports and just tell little girls to swim with little boys and see who wins?” Cruz asked.
“Oh, I’m simply saying that sex is different from gender but I do believe that women’s sports have a great value,” Robinson answered.
Cruz followed up by asking Robinson again why there would be separate category for women in sports.
“I’m saying there’s a difference between sex and gender and that the NCAA has rules in place which they have for the last decade related to participation,” Robinson responded.
Robinson testified that her organization, the Human Rights Campaign, has declared a “national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States.”
“[The declaration] follows an unprecedented spike it anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults and political extremism across our nation,” Robinson said, citing states that have banned “gender-affirming health care” for transgender children and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law.
For Gaines, however, the rules the NCAA has in place just aren’t good enough to protect women’s right to privacy and athletic opportunities.
“The number of female athletes who have been denied opportunities, traumatized, or hurt by policies that claim to promote ‘inclusion’ is growing at an alarming rate,” Gaines testified.
“Defending women’s rights is not anti-anyone. Believing in biology is not bigoted,” she said. “And following the science that there are two sexes and that there are very real and important differences between the two sexes is not hateful, it’s fact.”
Not mentioned at the hearing? Serena Williams herself once told David Letterman that she “would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes” were she to face men’s tennis star Andy Murray.
“If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. No, it’s true. It’s a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game,” Williams said.