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Tipsheet

NBA Champion Says Transgender Athletes Shouldn’t Play Women’s Sports

Mark J. Terrill

NBA champion Matt Barnes said this week that he does not believe biological male athletes who identify as “transgender” should be permitted to compete in women’s sports. 

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Barnes made the remarks in an interview where he was asked if he supports allowing trans players in the WNBA.

“Whatever you’re born…I think you should play in that space,” he began. “To me, you see that, the swimmer, and all that kind of stuff, and again, I’m pro ‘make your choice.’ Do you…but, you know, sports is different. Sports is a different beast.”

"I don't like that. If you're born a woman, you should play women's sports. If you're born a man, you should play men's sports. I think the sports thing is a little different," Barnes said. 

Barnes pointed out that he saw what had happened with “the swimmer,” which was Will “Lia” Thomas, who competed on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swim team for three consecutive years before joining the women’s team last season and competed against biological females. Thomas took away an opportunity from a deserving athlete at the NCAA championships and won a Division I Title

“You saw with the swimmer, ended up winning a championship on the women’s side, where, on the men’s side, he was ranked, like, No. 150,” the host said. “Imagine if Kevin Durant put on a wig and joined the WNBA. Like, what would happen? It’d be 100-0.”

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“It would change the whole dynamic of the game,” Barnes added, saying that “it’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.”

In June, I spoke with Riley Gaines, who swam against Thomas at the NCAA championships and tied in a race. However, Thomas got to take home the trophy. And, Kim Jones, a former all-American tennis player, founded an advocacy group to protect women’s sports after her daughter had to compete against Thomas.

"Last year, my daughter had to race Lia Thomas in the Ivy League throughout the year. And what I learned is that women are easily cast aside and told to be quiet when they face an injustice. It's just not the world I'm willing to leave for my granddaughters," Jones said. "Women deserve respect, they deserve fair competition, they deserve equal access to opportunities relative to their male counterparts. I'm passionate about preserving that for the next group of women."

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