Authored by Matt McGregor via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Three national jiu-jitsu associations have recently enacted policies prohibiting males from fighting in female brackets after several competitors went public with their experience in fighting a male opponent who identifies mentally as a female.
“It was a huge turnaround in a really short time,” Marshi Smith, a former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming champion from the University of Arizona and co-founder of the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), told The Epoch Times. “We’ve never seen a sport enact change as quickly as Jiu-Jitsu has.”
Ms. Smith co-founded ICONS with Kim Jones—herself a former NCAA tennis champion and mother of an Ivy League swimmer who had to compete against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
ICONS was set up to give women like Ansleigh Wilk and Jayden Alexander, both of whom fought a man in his early 40s at a July competition in Marietta, Georgia, a platform, support, and a voice.
“I was launched into this after seeing Lia Thomas win the national title, standing on the same podium where I achieved my greatest swimming accomplishment,” Ms. Smith said.
Olympic gold medalists, American record holders, multiple world champions, and NCAA Women of the Year petitioned the NCAA for change but to no avail.
Despite no response, ICONS has become a resource for advocacy for women’s sports in a time when the trans ideology is challenging and encroaching on the domain of women, as seen in an adult male registering in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament and being placed to compete with young women.
“It’s too shocking for the public to ignore at this point,” Ms. Smith said.
After Reduxx—a feminist media platform that spotlights the trans ideology’s corruption of women’s rights—began reporting on the issue, the Jiu-Jitsu associations responded with their change in policies.
On Oct. 28, NAGA stated, “We will have divisions for only biological females. Transgender females will not be entered into these divisions.”
For men who believe they are women, NAGA said, “Transgender females must compete in the men’s division. We hope that the simplicity of this revised policy will help to avoid any future occurrences where transgender females enter women divisions. If NAGA staff is informed that a transgender female is in a women’s division, they will be given the choice to go to the men’s division or given a refund.”
After Ms. Wilk’s post on X describing her experience, she was attacked as a bigot. But she also received support, getting the attention of J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series, who told her, “You’ve done nothing wrong. This isn’t, and never was, about hate, it’s about fairness and safety for women and girls.
“You stood up to protect your fellow athletes, which makes you a heroine in all sane people’s eyes. I know backlashes aren’t fun (believe me, I know) but there are things far more important than pleasing all the people, all the time. All power to you x.”
Ms. Wilk, a former U.S. Archery World Champion, told The Epoch Times she began training in Jiu-Jitsu at 15.
“I feel like it gives me an opportunity to not have anxiety when competing,” she said. “The competition mat is a place where I’m truly comfortable. All my social anxiety goes away when I get on those mats.”
She was primarily at the July competition to coach her brother’s team but also sought to compete at a lower level to get back into the swing of sparring after her back surgery.
However, she realized halfway through the match that something wasn’t right.
Her opponent was too strong to be a person registered as a woman.
Ms. Wilk was able to beat him but noticed that younger competitors were afraid.
She felt blindsided, she said, and her suspicion was later confirmed when she looked up the person on Instagram and discovered that he was a man.
“I don’t care how trans people want to live their life, I just think there should be transparency,” she said. “There are obvious differences between the male and female body, and I’m hoping these policy changes can spread to other sports to really show the vast difference between men and women.”
Ms. Alexander told The Epoch Times that her first impression was of her male opponent’s size.
“I was just thinking, ‘Oh my God, that chick is huge,’” she said.
But because tournaments are chaotic, she said, with everyone just scrambling to get through them, she went along with the match. But quickly realized there was a problem.
The difference in hand sizes and strength eventually led her to realize that she was fighting a man, she said, and she began to feel unsafe.
“At that point, there was nothing I could really do about it,” she said. “There was adrenaline pumping and I was in fight or flight mode. I was starting to panic.”
She went into automatic mode, she said, and focused on her coach’s words.
“Because my coach is super calm and precise in how he coaches, I was able to pull everything I had out of me to finish that match,” she said.
Ms. Alexander won, but the experience was enough to bring her to tears when she returned to her team.
Ms. Alexander self-excluded from later matches in which she would have had to fight males.
She didn’t know what to do next, she said, because she didn’t want to be called transphobic.
“If you know me personally, you know that’s not the case at all,” she said in her Instagram post. “The simple fact is that men signing up in a combat sport to fight women is absolutely unacceptable. We don’t deserve to be having to self-exclude from competitions to avoid fighting men. We deserve for there to be rules and regulations in place that keep us safe and that protect us from these situations happening in the first place.”
Ms. Alexander said she wasn’t surprised by the associations changing policies.
“Jiu-Jitsu is a very tightly knit, supportive community,” she said. “I’m shocked by how fast it happened but not shocked that it did happen.”
It’s now set the bar for other sports, she said.
“I think it’s leading by example,” Ms. Alexander said.
An Uphill Battle
But it’s been an uphill battle, Ms. Smith said.
“We’re hoping that this is a trend,” she said.
Earlier in October, Strongman Corp Canada created a separate category for trans athletes nine days after Maria Barwick, an ICONS-sponsored competitor, spoke out about having to compete against a male.
“Before Jiu-Jitsu, that was the quickest policy change that we’ve seen recently,” she said.
However, in February, Minnesota District Court Judge Patrick Diamond ruled that USA Powerlifting is no longer allowed to bar males who believe they are females from participating in the women’s category.
Internationally, some governing bodies are moving toward making rules for trans athletes more stringent, she said.
“They are relying on this 12-year-old timeline in which if you haven’t transitioned younger than 12, you can’t compete in the women’s category, which we do not advocate for,” she said. “What we believe at ICONS is, ‘female at birth,’ but they’re moving in the right direction.”
The problem in America is that the U.S. governing bodies aren’t following their international overseers, she said, resulting in the U.S. conflicting with international rules.
In addition, she said, there are sitting board members on national governing bodies for sports whose livelihood depends on their convincing children to medically transition, she said.
“I don’t like the word transition because no one can actually transition,” she said. “It’s basically just medicalizing children for life. And there’s a ton of money on the opposite side.”
Because the trans ideology flourished in the United Kingdom before the United States, it’s also been ahead on “correcting and redirecting” issues in accommodating for trans-identifying individuals, Ms. Smith said.
An organization in the UK with the same mission as ICONS called “Fair Play for Women” has been advocating for a change of policy in British sports.
“Though we’re a couple of years behind them, I’m hoping that we can get our national leaders to get there, too,” she said. “At ICONS, we’re trying to shorten that amount of time because this is unsustainable. We cannot continue seeing these kinds of stories in which girls are getting concussions in volleyball, their teeth knocked out, or put on a Jiu-Jitsu mat with men.”
ICONS continues to see men competing at every level in American sports, even taking national titles away from women, she said, “So, we still have a long way to go.”
“But with every win, as we saw in Jiu-Jitsu and Strongman, it’s building a stronger and stronger foundation, and giving other governing bodies more and more security to be able to defend their women faster,” she said. “But it’s not fast enough. We need everybody to agree that women and girls deserve safe and fair competition.”
Tue, 11/07/2023 – 21:45