Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas spoke out against transgender athletes participating in women’s sports, rejecting the notion that it’s transphobic to call for “common sense.”
During a panel discussion on Friday’s installment of “Real Time,” host Bill Maher asked his panel to weigh in on the lawsuit brought by Lia Thomas, the transgender Penn swimmer who made national headlines in 2022 after winning the NCAA Division I national championship, against World Aquatics in order to compete in women’s swimming at the Summer Olympics.
When asked whether it’s fair to force women to compete with transgender women, Costas said it wasn’t.
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Transgender athlete Lia Thomas is suing World Aquatics in an effort to compete in women’s swimming at the Summer Olympics. (Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
“People may not realize this, the individual federations that govern these sports make up their own rules. So World Aquatics may have different rules than FIFA or the Track and Field Association,” Costas began. “So I understand that when it comes to Olympic boxing, that federation will allow trans women to compete against biological women, at birth biological women. That seems crazy.”
“It’s not transphobic to say ‘Let’s inject some common sense here,'” Costas exclaimed. “A lot of this is murky. We know that some people who use this as an issue actually are hostile towards trans people, or people who after carefully considered decision at a certain point in life, decide that they’ll be happier and closer to their true selves- I think any sensitive person is aligned with that.”
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Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas railed against trans athletes competing in women’s sports, comparing it to welterweights boxing against heavyweights. (Screenshot/HBO)
“But Sugar Ray Leonard didn’t fight Mike Tyson. There were contemporaries. Sugar Ray was a welterweight, Mike was a heavyweight, alright? If someday the best player in the WNBA can play in the NBA, everybody would applaud. But if the worst guy at the end of the bench on the worst team in the NBA went to the WNBA and averaged 40 points a game, everybody knows that’s bulls—,” Costas continued.
On the subject of a solution to address the issue, Costas refrained from speculating how each sports can “codify” their own rules but suggested trans athletes competing against other trans athletes is not the answer, either.
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Thomas made national headlines in 2022 for being the first transgender athlete to win the NCAA Division I national championship. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Fellow panelist, The Atlantic staff writer Caitlin Flanagan, also railed against trans athletes participating in women’s sports.
“You know these kind of extreme cases, and I hate that we have to talk about them so much because it makes it [like] we have to say things that are cruel or hurtful to some people but you know, women’s and girl’s sports- they weren’t created as separate from men’s and boy’s because of some weird gendered thing like they have to wear pink, and they have to wear blue, they’re that way because of the profound sex differences between the sexes. That’s the reason,” Flanagan said, sparking applause from Maher’s liberal audience.
“You don’t hear about any trans male athletes on a D1 basketball team… [it’s] the trans women who seem to be using a natural advantage that comes from sex-linked traits, you know, we women- we can’t compete,” she added.