Opponents argue that female-identifying biological males playing against women is unfair to biological females.
“We all see it from grade school on, this advantage,” Stelzer, founder of Save Women’s Sports, told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter who has testified before numerous state legislatures on this issue, started the organization in 2019 when transgender lifter JayCee Cooper protested after being excluded from the Minnesota Women’s State Championships due to what USA Powerlifting deemed to be Cooper’s “direct competitive advantage” over female competitors — among whom was Stelzer.
“I thought, certainly more women should speak or be speaking out,” Stelzer noted, adding she started the organization to “help elevate women’s voices in this fight to help keep women's sports for only biological females.”
USA Powerlifting still restricts the participation of female-identifying athletes.
“There’s so many, and they’re immutable,” Stelzer said of the physiological differences. “We can look at bone structure. Our bone lengths are different. So are arms and legs, and then the angle in which they go into the hips [is different] as women are child birthing. Hand and feet sizes are different.”
“Women have to deal with pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, and that’s a reality that males will never have to face, and it is a big hurdle sometimes for female athletes,” she added.
Current policies on transgender athletes vary by state and sporting organization. The International Olympic Committee, for instance, allows them to participate in women's events so long as their testosterone measures below 10 nanomoles per liter, a requirement which Stelzer criticized.
The federal government also sets its own policies through its various agencies. Last month, the Education Department announced it would interpret Title IX, a law passed in 1972 prohibiting sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, to protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity. It was one of a series of administration moves heralded by groups advocating for the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports.
"Banning trans youth from sports and denying trans youth health care violates the Constitution and federal law," said Chase Strangio, deputy director for the ACLU's Trans Justice initiative, in a statement after the Justice Department declared its position that two state laws relating to transgender people, including one in West Virginia banning transgender athletes from competing in women's sports, are unconstitutional.
"We hope that state legislatures finally get the message,” Strangio added.
Many Republican-led states moved to restrict or ban female-identifying athletes from playing against females this year, even while critics say or suggest politicians are overstating the issue related to competitiveness across the sports landscape.