The arena of sports is one of several areas where the radical transgender political agenda and the rights of women are in direct conflict. As a woman with four daughters, and years of advocacy on behalf of women and children, I feel compelled to speak out on this issue. After all, I have witnessed the rise of women’s sports in my own lifetime. Title IX opened the door to women's sports programs in 1972 and required gender equality by the 1978-79 school year. I was in 4th grade that year. I have never been an athlete, but because I lived through those times, I understand and appreciate the hard-fought ground that was gained by female athletes in the 70s and 80s.
Fast forward to just a few short years ago. The London Olympics in 2012 were the very first Olympic games in which every participating country had female athletes and the first Olympics in which female athletes competed in every available Olympic sport. Let that sink in for a moment. 2012. That's more than a century after the first modern Olympics in 1896. Women have had to fight hard to have some semblance of respect and equality in athletics. Yet now in 2020, that ground is being chipped away worldwide.
This is where the difference in sex and gender must be recognized as a reality that cannot be denied or assuaged. Gender expression is a social construct, not a scientific or biological one. The construct of gender is the prescribed behavior within any given culture, be it dress, mannerisms, or behaviors that are gender specific. Those change over time and differ across geographic, religious, and cultural boundaries. Sex, on the other hand, is the biological genetic material that defines and separates the physiology of male and female beyond simply genitalia. It is scientific and ultimately unchangeable.
Yet, male athletes are now competing against female athletes in women’s sports by simply declaring themselves to be female. Whether it is Fallon Fox shattering eye sockets in the MMA, Laurel Hubbard shattering national women’s weightlifting records in New Zealand, male runners winning girls’ high school track titles in Connecticut, or male athletes being named as female athlete of the week, the stories abound. With everything in me, I do not understand why this is allowed. When a person is born male, he is male at a genetic level. No amount of surgery or artificial hormone usage can change that. Men and women have different bone density and muscle mass, different lung capacities, different heart sizes and different amounts of blood circulating through their bodies. During organ transplant surgery of hearts and livers, there is a greater risk of rejection with "cross gender" transplantation. Our bodies naturally recognize the fundamental differences between male and female. Those things are not significantly altered during hormone therapy or sex reassignment. Most of those core differences are not altered at all. Mediocre male athletes can suddenly be superstars when they switch to women’s teams.
To put this in perspective, one only has to look at the field of women’s track. Anyone who was alive in the 1980s remembers Florence Griffith Joyner’s truly remarkable 1988 Olympic appearance. I can vividly remember cheering in front of my t.v. as she broke the Olympic record in the 100-meter dash as well as the Olympic and world records in the 200-meter dash. It was exhilarating to watch the fastest woman on earth. Even though her record time was remarkable for women’s track, you have to go all the way back to 1921 to find a comparable men’s record in the 100 meter. In the last thirty-two years no woman has even come close to Joyner’s record without doping. In contrast, literally thousands of men, and even high school boys have run faster than Flo Jo did in 1988. In fact, the current 3499th place men’s record holder for the 200-meter dash at 20.39 seconds is almost a full second faster than Joyner’s 21.34 second 200-meter women’s world record.
So, how are women’s sports records supposed to be taken seriously if they are set by male athletes? How are girls supposed to fairly compete for titles and scholarships in high school against male students? How are female athletes supposed to compete in contact sports against biologically male athletes without risking serious physical injury? There is a reason why sex specific sports teams were created in the first place. We can and should show kindness and compassion for individuals who are struggling with their own identity. But if we can't objectively define the difference between male and female then there is no point to sex specific sports or Title IX. I don’t claim to have all the answers and the further we go down this road, the more complicated and convoluted the circumstances become. I am also fully aware of the angry backlash that comes from speaking out on these types of issues. But as a woman, as a mother, and as a girl who grew up during the sexual revolution, I know I’m not alone in my concerns on this issue. An entire new generation of young girls are waiting and watching. Are we going to stand up for them and protect their opportunities to fairly compete and to earn scholarships, or will we shrink back and allow our collective voices to be silenced by an outrage mob?
Because of this, I fully support HB2706, sponsored by Representative Nancy Barto. It aims to protect girls’ interscholastic sports by clearly defining eligibility for sex specific sports teams to be based on biological sex. (Note: this has no effect on opportunities for girls to tryout for boys' teams when there is no comparable girls' team. That will remain as is)
**Update 3/4/20 Last night, after six hours of debate, HB2706 passed through the House of Representatives on a 31-29 strict party line vote. It will now be transmitted to the Senate.
by Debi Vandenboom
The American Healthcare Act of 2017 (AHCA) passed through the US House yesterday. Since then, the news and social media is overflowing with hyperbole and hysteria from the left. It can be difficult to sort through the drama. What passed yesterday is intended to be phase one of a three phase "repeal and replace" plan. I am not a healthcare or insurance expert and while I have my own opinions, I don't know with absolute certainty what should or should not be in the 3 phases. I don't know that anyone does. I do feel much better about it knowing that the Freedom Caucus and others were able to come to an agreement on a plan. It's all so complicated and convoluted that it's hard to predict how it will all play out. But, what I do know is that ACA (aka Obamacare) has been a disaster and is hurting American families.
Those hardest hit have been in the individual insurance pool, my family included. We, like many Americans, are self-employed. Prior to ACA, my family, with four children, paid less than $500 per month for a PPO plan with a $7500 per year deductible. In 2015, our premiums doubled. Prices continued to increase, our choices began to decrease, and eventually our plan was no longer offered. We became and remained uninsured. Beginning January of 2017, a family of four in our area can be insured through the exchange in a bronze level HMO plan for over $2000 per month with a $14,000 deductible and only 60% coverage after the deductible has been met. Costs would be even higher for a family of six like ours. We opted to risk being forced to pay the penalty and to pay cash for care at local clinics, including paying for my high cost monthly asthma medications. It was too expensive to do anything else. My husband recently took a second job which includes insurance benefits, largely so that we could finally have coverage. I know many families like ours.
The problems don’t end there. We are seeing a mass exodus of insurance providers from the marketplace. Less competition means higher costs, fewer options and a lower standard of care as more people are channeled into a smaller pool of providers. In Arizona, every county but one has only one insurance provider in the market. This is the case for Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county, and one of the nation’s hotspots for population growth over the last decade. The roughly 4 million residents of Maricopa County have about 150 healthcare providers to choose from within the Centene Health Net network if they choose to insure through ACA. Arizona is not an anomaly. In 2016, there were 225 counties in the US that had only one ACA insurance provider. In 2017 there are 1022 counties with only one choice. Additionally, there are multiple counties now in danger of losing their last remaining provider in 2018.
This cannot continue. Understandably, some people with pre-existing conditions are concerned about changes, and the left is amplifying that fear. But, in AHCA, those with pre-existing conditions must still be offered coverage. Furthermore, one of the compromises worked out between the Republican caucuses was the inclusion of money that will be sent to states to help offset costs associated with pre-existing conditions within each state's individual market. The real question we should be asking the left is how will those people get any care at all when Obamacare fully implodes? This week, AZ Congressman David Schweikert presented some of the problems and cost impacts of ACA and the reasons why we must make changes. You can watch the video here.
What seems to be missing in all the hysterical dialogue is the real life negative impact that ACA has already had on Americans, especially the self-employed, the small business owners and anyone else not covered by employers and not eligible for Medicaid. We have seen higher rates, fewer insurers and less care due to the implementation of ACA. Despite the claims of success, many of us can no longer afford even the most basic health insurance for our children. This is one of the reasons why so many voted Donald Trump. Regular, everyday Americans were tired of reality not matching the hype. Many of them are desperately hoping that President Trump and the Republicans in Congress will fully complete the promise to “repeal and replace” and that we will see some actual relief. There is still much work to be done, but step one happened yesterday.
I have spent the last fifteen plus years fighting for the cause of life. I have read books and articles from every side of the debate. I've watched interviews, documentaries, exposes and undercover investigations. I have spoken with, counseled, and come alongside girls who were pregnant and scared, young mothers trying to find their way, as well as women who deeply regretted their decision to abort. I have spent many hours sitting in legislative proceedings supporting pro-life legislation. And I have diligently prayed for hearts and minds to change.
In all of those years of experience, one of the things which never ceases to amaze me is the depths to which abortion advocates will go to defend the indefensible. They have developed a science out of using carefully crafted talking points, data manipulation and outright lies to defend "women's health", aka abortion. I have heard it so often that I can spot the spin within seconds of hearing or reading someone's words. Abortion advocates fight for the "right" of a woman (or young girl at literally ANY child bearing age) to have access to abortion without notifying her parents if she's a minor, without informed consent of the procedure or its risks, without meeting the doctor ahead of time, for any reason, at any stage of gestation, using the grisliest procedures, and preferably paid for with taxpayer dollars. If you dare to try to place even the tiniest, most reasonable restriction on abortion, then you clearly must be anti-woman and hate the poor. No exaggeration. I've heard it. I've seen it. It's ugly.
But, it doesn't end there. In order to defend the indefensible, abortion advocates must also take horrific stands on issues that don't directly relate to women's access to abortion. One of these is the issue of fetal homicide. This really came to light back in 2003 when Laci Peterson and her unborn son were murdered in California. There was much discussion about whether baby Conner had or had not been born prior to his demise. My question is, why should it matter? Laci Peterson was 8 months pregnant. Whether the baby died in utero, or post birth, he still died. And, his death was clearly, directly connected to his mother's murder. However, pro-abortion groups like NARAL and NOW advocated to keep Scott Peterson from being charged with two murders. Despite the fact that pro-abortion organizations claim to support the choice of women who carry "wanted" babies, that support only goes so far. They could not risk having such a high profile case bring to light that an unborn baby is in fact alive and can in fact be murdered.
This happens in case after case. Tragically, murder is one of the top causes, sometimes listed as the number one cause, of death for pregnant women. According to WebMd, murder accounts for 20% of the deaths of pregnant women, as compared to 6% of the deaths of nonpregnant women. You might think that pro-abortion groups full of self-proclaimed feminists who supposedly champion women's rights, would speak out against such atrocities. You would be wrong. If a baby in utero can legally be recognized as a fully alive human being capable of being murdered, it casts a giant shadow on the entire issue of abortion. Therefore, abortion groups are more interested in protecting abortion, and their own profit margin, than they are in actually protecting and advocating for women.
Another area where abortion advocates justify especially reprehensible acts concerns babies who "accidentally" survive an abortion attempt. It happens more often than you might think. When a child survives an abortion procedure at a clinic, he or she may simply be discarded in a bin or left to die on a metal table with no medical attention whatsoever. In Arizona, it has been the law since 1975 for babies who were born alive to receive care, and it has been federal law since the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act" of 2002. Yet we continue to hear about babies being left to die with no care at all. For example, recently in Arizona, a baby girl was born alive after an unsuccessful abortion at 22 weeks, and was left to die alone on a steel table with no medical care or assistance. She suffered alone for nearly an hour and a half before finally passing. This is heartbreaking. It only takes a simple Google search to see that this is not an isolated incident. You can find stories across the country of babies surviving abortion.
One would think that signs of life such as a heartbeat, gasps of breath, or umbilical cord pulsation would be enough to cause someone with medical training to jump into action without being forced to do so. Unfortunately it is not. So, at the federal level, legislation was introduced this session which would strengthen protection for abortion survivors. In Arizona, Governor Ducey just signed SB1367 into law which further clarifies the state’s existing born alive law. During and after this bill’s passage, the pro-abortion nonsense abounded in the newspaper, on social media, and in legislative hearings. Among the most incredulous things I personally heard was that it was "inhumane" to provide “intrusive” medical care to a baby who would not survive anyway. Inhumane? As opposed to treating a living baby like discarded medical waste? A baby may be considered too young to survive at a certain gestational age, until one defeats the odds and does survive. I've personally met 2 young women who were so tiny and premature at birth that their parents were given no hope of survival. They are now 20 and 21 years old. Life has a tendency to defy all odds. And even if that baby truly cannot survive, she still deserves to be treated as a human being and at least given basic care, rather than being left untreated in a steel medical bin. But, here lies the problem for Planned Parenthood and other radical abortion advocates. Once an abortion has failed and you are dealing with a living breathing infant, then abortion should no longer be relevant. Born alive laws have absolutely nothing to do with abortion access. However, if a baby at 20 weeks, or 22 weeks, is a human being in need of medical care, then what is an in utero fetus at 20 weeks or 22 weeks? In almost every state, including Arizona, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, and in some states even further. A living breathing abortion survivor throws a giant monkey wrench in to the "clump of cells" sales pitch. So again, in order to protect abortion and to protect their bottom line, abortion advocates will defend the truly indefensible. Abortion, at it’s most fundamental level is inexcusable and horrific. We have literally made an industry out of destroying life at its most vulnerable stages. So, abortion advocates must attempt to justify abortion at its most extreme levels, such as fighting fetal homicide rulings or born alive protections, in order to be able to justify it at all. If they don’t, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down around them. That is why it is important to shine a light on some of the most horrific aspects of the abortion argument. We can’t be squeamish. We must continue to shine light into this darkness, until the last card falls.
by Debi Vandenboom
I believe in kindness. I believe that my fellow human beings should be treated with compassion regardless of who they are, or what particular lifestyle choices they have made. I don’t just say that. I make every effort to live it, to teach it to my four daughters, and to share it with all the others under my influence. I have also spent most of my adult life providing help to, and advocating for, women and children in a multitude of ways. Recently, it occurred to me that while I speak privately about the issue of transgender politics and how it affects women, I almost never speak publicly.
Anyone who reads or follows social media threads on such topics knows the kind of angry, hateful rhetoric that inevitably follows those conversations. I am not afraid of it, but I will be honest and say that I have not exactly been drooling over the chance to jump into the mix. However, as I read article after article, story after story, and wonder if the world has collectively lost its mind. I began to think that if voices like mine are silenced, we have a much larger problem than which label goes on a particular public bathroom.
To be clear, those bathroom policies do in fact matter. They matter a lot. As a woman, if I encounter an individual in a restroom whose biological sex is unclear, but who is dressed and behaving as a woman, simply using the facilities and not behaving suspiciously, I leave that person alone. It has happened in real life more than once. That is not the issue. Exact statistics vary, but transgender individuals make up less than one percent of the population as opposed to about 1 in 3 women who have been sexually assaulted or abused. Do those assaults all take place in bathrooms? Of course not. Are the assaults mostly perpetrated by strangers? Definitely not. Do trans individuals pose a greater risk in bathrooms than other people? Doubtful. Prior to changes in laws, they have already been in and out of bathrooms on a regular basis, mostly without incidence and likely without anyone noticing or caring.
That is not the point. The point is that open bathroom policies create a number of serious safety issues for women and girls. To begin with, we have a major uptick in incidents of voyeurism in restrooms, changing rooms and other private areas. Men are directly peeping or planting small cameras and smart phones in order to film naked women and girls. Unisex bathrooms and private areas with open transgender policies absolutely create a higher risk for voyeurism or assault. They make access to half naked girls infinitely easier. But, that is only part of the problem.
Another major problem is more psychological in nature. For decades, groups and agencies which help abuse victims have been educating and advocating for ways to help women be aware of their surroundings, to stand up for themselves, and to speak up if something is off. Yet here we are in 2017, and women are being told that we do not have the right to keep men out of our own private spaces or those of our underage daughters. We are brushed off as silly if we feel uneasy or have safety concerns. And, heaven forbid any of us actually speak up against what is going on. If we do, we are told that we must be ignorant, “transphobic”, or otherwise hate-filled. Women's right to privacy is denied in favor of the rights of men self-identifying as women to enter the bathroom of their choice. Meanwhile, naked pictures are being shared online without the knowledge or consent of the photographed individual. Meanwhile, the fears of women bearing the hidden scars of sexual abuse are summarily dismissed. Meanwhile, women and girls are put at unnecessary risk by granting sexual predators easy access to bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas. And meanwhile, millions of young girls are being sent the not-so-subtle message that they should not expect to have their privacy guarded and that they are not allowed to speak up if they are in an uncomfortable situation. Is that not the very definition of sexual harassment?
Unfortunately, bathrooms are not the only area in which the transgender political agenda and the rights of women are in direct conflict. This also occurs in the area of sports. I am 47. I have seen the rise of women’s sports in my own lifetime. Title IX opened the door to women's sports programs in 1972 and required gender equality by the 1978-79 school year. I was in 4th grade that year. I have never been an athlete, but I understand and appreciate the hard fought ground that was gained by female athletes in the 70s and 80s. Fast forward to just a few short years ago. The London Olympics in 2012 were the very first Olympic games in which every participating country had female athletes and the first Olympics in which female athletes competed in every available Olympic sport. Let that sink in for a moment. 2012. Women have had to fight hard to have some semblance of respect and equality in athletics. Yet now in 2017, that ground is being chipped away.
This is where the difference in sex and gender must be recognized as a reality that cannot be denied or assuaged. Gender is a social construct, not a scientific or biological one. The construct of gender is the prescribed behavior within any given culture, be it dress, mannerisms, or other actions that are gender specific. Sex is the biological genetic material that defines and separates the physiology of male and female beyond genitalia. It is scientific and ultimately unchangeable.
Yet, biologically male athletes are now competing against biologically female athletes in women’s sports. Whether it is Fallon Fox shattering eye sockets in the MMA, or the more recent news of Laurel Hubbard shattering national women’s weightlifting records in New Zealand, the stories abound. With everything in me, I do not understand why this is allowed. When a person is born male, he is male at a genetic level. No amount of surgery or artificial hormone usage can change that. Men and women have different bone and muscle masses, different lung capacities, different heart sizes and different amounts of blood circulating through their bodies. During organ transplant surgery of hearts and livers, there is a greater risk of rejection with "cross gender" transplantation. Our bodies naturally recognize the fundamental differences between male and female. Those things are not altered during sex reassignment. So, how are girls supposed to fairly compete for titles and scholarships in high school against genetically male students? How are women’s sports records supposed to be taken seriously if they are set by athletes who are genetically and biologically male? How are female athletes supposed to compete against biologically male athletes without risking serious injury?
To complicate matters even further, we also have biologically female athletes, who are in transition and taking male hormones, competing against other female students. Steroid usage is not allowed in competitive sports because of health risks and because it creates an unfair advantage. Can’t the same argument be made against high artificial levels of testosterone?
I don’t claim to have all the answers and the further we go down this road, the more complicated and convoluted the circumstances become. But as a woman, as a mother, and as a girl who grew up during the sexual revolution, my voice and my concerns matter on this issue. An entire new generation of young girls are waiting and watching. Are we going to stand up for them, or will we shrink back and allow our collective voices to be silenced?
by Debi Vandenboom
The selection of Supreme Court Justices is arguably one of the most important jobs any president has. A Justice’s impact, for better or for worse, can be felt for decades. That is why President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court is especially good news. Judge Gorsuch is a well-respected judge who was confirmed without opposition in 2006 to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, has a stellar judicial record, and was given a top rating by the American Bar Association at the time of his confirmation.
He is exactly the kind of judge that President Trump promised to nominate during his campaign, and exactly the kind of judge the American people want. He is a jurist, not an activist. For far too long the courts have run amok, legislating from the bench rather than ruling on existing law. Political extremists have counted on this and used it to their advantage by codifying their agenda into law through the courts rather than through the legislative process. Judge Gorsuch has spoken out against this practice saying that judges should rule according to the law rather than using their position to further their own political preference. In other words, he will be fair. He will rule according to the Constitution, as a Supreme Court Justice should.
The only reason to oppose Judge Gorsuch, would be a desire to continue pushing unpopular legal precedent on the American public. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards has been among the most outspoken opponents of Judge Gorsuch. This is for good reason. Planned Parenthood relies heavily on the courts to stall, or entirely block legislation which reasonably limits the scope of abortion. A quick Google search will reveal the enormous number of times Planned Parenthood has used the courts to attempt to usurp the authority of state legislatures even though the Supreme Court has already agreed that reasonable limits to abortion are acceptable. The Supreme Court itself has said that states have “an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman… [and] in protecting the potentiality of human life.”
Whether it is recognizing the value of defending life at all stages, or standing up for the protection of religious liberties for groups like The Little Sisters of the Poor, Judge Gorsuch has proven that he will rule according to the Constitution, rather than wherever the political wind happens to be blowing. He is an ideal replacement for Justice Scalia and will serve the Supreme Court, and his country well.
by Debi Vandenboom
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