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Monday, March 22, 2021

Who Is Beth Stelzer, and Why Is She Important?

            My VIP for this week is Beth Stelzer, a powerlifting athlete that is fighting to protect women’s sports from transgender athletes. She began her quest after her first powerlifting match where she expected to find many individuals supporting strong women. However, the entire competition was filled with protests from a biological male that identifies as female. He was upset because he was not allowed to participate.

            Stelzer founded Save Women’s Sports to protect “the right of every woman and girl to compete on a level playing field.” She joined “Problematic Women” with Virginia Allen to discuss the recent executive order from President Joe Biden to allow biological men to compete in women’s sports. When asked to share her story, Stelzer first praised the female athletes in Connecticut who are stepped up to fight for level playing fields. She then told her story.

My story—long story short—is, I’m a mom, wife. Just an average person who found sports a little later in life and fell in love with powerlifting, and really carved out time out of family time to train like two to three hours a day, five to seven days a week, just as much time in the kitchen, to get ready for this women’s state championships.

And when I got there, instead of this awesome welcoming into the community I was expecting, this male threw a disruptive protest during the entire event because he wasn’t allowed to compete in the women’s championships.

It just kind of threw me down this rabbit hole of realization of what’s really happening—basically, the erasure of women’s rights.

            Allen summarized Stelzer’s experience: She shows up at her first powerlifting competition expecting a celebration for strong women. Instead, she watched a grown man that identifies as female throw a temper tantrum because he was not invited to participate. She was disappointed and felt that it was not right. She began online research about the people getting harassed, and she ended up founding Save Women’s Sports. Allen asked for more details about her experience.

How the experience [was] basically taken away from me was heartbreaking. It’s a small community of people, the powerlifting community, and I expected this welcoming event, and instead, it was just chaos. But it helped me realize what’s going on to women’s rights.

I got home and started researching how athletes are basically being silenced by cancel culture in this fear environment that these activists are creating. And so, I started as a way to compile information for people to see a source of the truth in this debate, and here we are making laws.

            Allen and Stelzer agreed that no one should be discriminated against. Allen then asked Stelzer what the latest executive order means for the future of women’s sports. Stelzer emphasized that it is not women’s sports that are in danger.

For the future of women in general, basically. What this order did was erase the sex-based protections that women have fought so hard to have. In sports, that boils down to Title IX, and we have not even had that for 50 years.

In places, we’re still fighting to enforce that, and now, with Biden’s order, erased that. And we’re saying that anyone is allowed to self-identify into the female category, and we all know it is not fair for males to compete against females.

We just seem to have turned this into some kind of partisan issue when it’s just basically common sense, and it’s sad to see that.

Allen asked Stelzer to explain more about the biological advantages that men have over women in athletics.

Sure. The differences stem from the wide chromosome that males have, and these differences start in the womb, and they are cemented in puberty. So, there’s a lot of talk around testosterone and puberty and how that makes such a big difference.

But we see, even in the Presidential Physical Fitness Test that most of us in the United States do if we go to public school, the differences start at age 6 between boys and girls. This is a reality. It goes from bone structure to bone mass, muscle mass, heart size, lung size. That all contributes to the oxygen-carrying capabilities.

So many differences and not just how the bone structure like the Q-angle of hips. Women’s skulls are different. We are way more prone to concussions. There’s so many differences besides the realities of pregnancy, menstruation, menopause that we have to train around.

Stelzer continued by explaining why the differences between males and females cannot be mitigated. “We see in studies … a yearlong study, and muscle mass did not change after hormone replacement.” She called the hormone treatment “a seriously slippery slope” that young kids should not be on. If they choose to transition to the opposite sex as adults, that is a completely different thing from children and teenagers. “If we allow sports organizations to settle on this middle ground of allowing kids who transitioned, “pre-puberty transitioned” boys, to compete with girls, it’s a dangerous situation for everyone.”

Seltzer said that that the unfairness goes beyond the playing field. Expecting girls and women to expect boys and men in their dressing rooms and restrooms is unfair.

We’re not trying to insinuate that all people who self-identify as being opposite gender are somehow a threat, but it opens up, it conditions girls to accept male bodies, and they will not know which one of those male bodies is the threat. And that’s why we have sex-separated spaces to begin with.

            Stelzer had much more to share, and you can read about it here. Her organization is not trying to keep anyone from competition, but she is fighting for fair competition. “And it goes back to telling the kids the truth. They can compete on the team of their biological sex, and they should understand why that’s necessary.” She added that it is not possible to protect girls’ and women’s sports while including transgender athletes. She mentioned several states that are passing laws that will protect girls and women, such as Mississippi and Idaho. Other states like South Dakota are working on such laws. 

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