Sam Ponder, an ESPN broadcaster, has received criticism for her support of transgender athletes participating in sports against the gender they were born as. Ponder and fellow ESPN colleague Sage Steele have voiced their support for Riley Gaines, who has been at the forefront of the issue since tying with Lia Thomas in the NCAA Championship in 2022. Recently, Ponder spoke about the issue again after Gaines tweeted messages she received about transgender high school runners participating in the girls’ division in California. Ponder tweeted that it is not hateful to demand fairness in sports for girls. However, USA Today’s Nancy Armour accused Ponder of putting transgender people in further danger with her tweets.
Armour particularly took issue with Ponder choosing to speak out about this issue rather than talk about how girls and women’s sports don’t have equitable funding with boys and men. Armour accused Ponder of amplifying the bogeyman that cisgender women’s participation in sports is being threatened by transgender girls and young women. A Washington Post-KFF poll showed that the majority of American adults believe gender is determined at birth and are against biological males competing in women’s sports. When it comes to college and professional sports, 65% of American adults don’t believe that biological males should be allowed to compete in women’s sports, while 34% in both categories were behind the idea. In youth sports, 62% of American adults did not believe biological males should be allowed to compete against biological girls, while 37% were behind allowing transgender girls to compete with biological girls.
In conclusion, the issue of transgender athletes participating in sports against the gender they were born as is a controversial one. While some, like Ponder and Steele, support their participation, others, like Armour, believe that it puts cisgender women’s participation in sports at risk. The majority of American adults believe that gender is determined at birth and are against biological males competing in women’s sports. However, the issue is not just about transgender athletes but also about equitable funding for girls and women’s sports. It is important to have a fair and equal playing field for all athletes, regardless of their gender identity.
Keywords: Sam Ponder, ESPN, transgender athletes, fairness, equitable funding, girls’ sports, Washington Post-KFF poll.
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