Title IX: Nancy Hogshead-Makar Fights for Women’s Sports

Nancy Hogshead-Makar who rocketed to fame after her gold and silver medal swimming performances at the 1984 Olympics, says we need to continue to apply pressure to keep women’s sports alive.

Since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Hogshead-Makar has gone on to become a well-known attorney and advocate for the rights of women and women athletes. She’s the CEO of ChampionWomen.org advocacy, for girls and women’s sports.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the swimming world’s governing body, FINA has voted to ban transgender women from competition in major elite events effective Monday, June 20. The decision comes on the heels of pressure from women’s sports advocates, mainly brought about by the participation in women’s sports of UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

“We’ve been working towards this day for over three years,” Hogshead-Makar told The IntraView following the FINA decision. “The science is clear: it isn’t possible to roll-back male puberty. The FINA decision affirms fairness for females.

“The FINA policy is over three years in the making,” she said “It affirms fairness for females. It recognizes the medical facts that once a male body has progressed through puberty, it cannot be rolled back, no matter how many drugs are taken, no matter how many surgeries a person has. Females are not smaller, weaker, inferior men. We are perfectly made, not the B team.

“The separate category for females recognizes that half the population is served with our own space, to win, to make a living, to be role models, and to move into leadership roles,” she said.

Hogshead-Makar said Thomas’ participation in womens sports has “made the issue more public for everyone to be able to see,” she said. She added that transgender women should have equal treatment in all other areas, except in sports.

Listen to Nancy Hogshead-Makar on The IntraView podcast here:


“I think when all of us heard the idea that trans women were women and this idea we shouldn’t discriminate against transgender people,” she said. “I mean, I’m very liberal and very progressive and I was all in with transgender people should not be discriminated against in the workforce. 

“It would be my colleagues, my neighbors, you know, certainly marriage and adoption and public accommodations,” Hogshead-Makar said. “They should not be but I don’t think we were aware that women would be giving up anything. And I agree that trans women are women, except in a few places, where the biology really matters. And certainly sports is one of those places where the biology actually matters.” 

Does Hogshead-Makar believe there’s a correlation between women’s success in sports and their success later in life with their chosen careers? 

“We have research showing that sports causes these amazing effects, that women who are athletes are more likely to stay in school,” she said. “They’re more likely to graduate from high school. They’re more likely to go to college and more likely to finish college or more likely to go into STEM courses. They’re more likely to go to graduate school. They’re more likely to go into the workforce, they’re more likely to stay in the workforce and on and on.

“So this is a real benefit to everybody in the whole country to have both men and women, but women in particular have this type of educational experience, and be able to participate in sports and be able to to have a space where they can win, and they cannot do that with male bodies,” Hogshead-Makar said. “You know, again, we’re not talking recreational sports. We’re only talking competitive sports here.”

Listen to The IntraView with Nancy Hogshead-Makar.