Salvo 03.24.2022 5 minutes

Call Him William Thomas

2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship

The case for deadnaming the man who killed female swimmers’ dreams

There’s a particular stone toss comic strip that crystallizes everything I’m about to say in a single image. 

In the most general sense, the meme is about Cthulhu moving left. Liberal entropy can be considered a fact of life in American politics—as reliable as inertia, as predictable as gravity. Over time, leftists get their way. More particularly, however, the meme is about the particular form of conservative weakness that enables the drift. In other words, how heritage America loses big by conceding small. 

You’ll know exactly how we got here by how every mainstream media outlet, even the ones that feign rage, has reported on the man who, pretending to be a woman, has secured a position in the NCAA Women’s swimming finals this year. That man’s name is William Thomas. He was ranked in the mid-500s when he competed as a man—after being recruited as a man to swim for the University of Pennsylvania. Naturally now, he ranks first among women.

But even as, say, Fox News (with the exception of Tucker Carlson), makes noise in opposition to the unfairness of it all, even as they opine the physiological differences between men and women, they call him “Lia Thomas.” They call him “her.” They bring on Bruce Jenner and call him Caitlyn and nod enthusiastically as he, too, says this is a bridge too far. 

If sex differences matter, they matter. If they don’t, they don’t. Actions speak louder than words: by conforming to the delusion of transgenderism by any degree, the issue is lost completely. 

The conservative fantasy operates as the precise inverse of the transgender fantasy. Where the transgender person seeks to fuse by force his inner and outer life, to eradicate the distinction between subjective perception and objective reality, to force the world to conform to his imagination, the conservative seeks to defuse. The conservative clings to his private sentiments, imagining that so long as the exterior world leaves him alone, he is free. Where the conservative has no will to exert himself over his environment, the tranny has no qualms.

He who is willing will win. As distasteful as it may sound, in this situation, he who behaves as master becomes master; he who behaves as a slave becomes a slave. Might may not make right, but it wins swim matches, especially when no might is exerted in opposition. 

What American conservatives imagine to be their own valiant opposition to transgenderism is nothing more than unserious, aimless, performative, and ultimately hollow whining, demonstrated by the fact that they still kowtow to the transgender movement in the same breath that they make a rather dramatic gesture of criticizing its beneficiaries. 

If those who have made politics their career, so called thought-leaders, lack the gumption to tell the truth, what can be expected of their followers?

Reka Gyorgy, the female swimmer who lost out on a finals position because of William Thomas’ participation, wrote in her letter to the NCAA:

With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers.. Everyone has heard and known about transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought into our sport. I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women.

Once again, if sex differences matter, they matter. If they don’t, they don’t. You cannot “fully stand” with your abuser, and if you do, you must not be serious about removing him from your life. Reka’s concession can be more easily understood, given the potential personal cost of saying anything in such a hostile environment. Ultimately, despite the fact that we can all empathize with her reasoning, the concession still nullifies the point.

Reka might have written a more effectual letter if she was in any way supported by political leadership, which can take many unofficial and official forms, from corporate media to parents’ unions. But she isn’t, not visibly. So we have forced young women and children into the position of defending themselves against predatory, narcissistic abusers that will continue to invade their spaces because no one will say the obvious: this is a grown man. And yes, if as a grown man, you feel so entitled to the intimate spaces of the sexually vulnerable, you are predatory by default. 

Good leaders happily absorb the costs of courage. It’s part of the job. What is the point of leaders, de facto and de jure, politicians and talking heads and parents, that are too cowardly to state the obvious? 

Two options remain: continue to wail about “the Left” as we watch grown men transgress further and further against healthy and proper boundaries, or begin at the beginning. Continue to allow women and children to lead you, or align yourself with the truth. Take your thirty pieces of silver, or call William Thomas by his name. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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