news·3 min read

Daily Skimm: Transgender Athletes, Cancer, and The Washington Commanders (1)

Feb 3, 2022

Making Waves

The Story

USA Swimming’s got a new policy for transgender athletes. 

Let’s dive into it. 

Earlier this week, the org overseeing competitive swimming in the US relayed new rules for trans swimmers ages 13+ in elite events. Aka those competing in events like USA Swimming Nationals, Junior Nationals, and US Olympic Team Trials. The policy — effective immediately — allows a panel of three medical experts to decide whether trans athletes have a “competitive advantage” over their cisgender female competitors. And to make sure trans swimmers have testosterone levels under a certain level. USA Swimming says the new rule supports “competitive equity.” But it comes amid a larger debate over trans athletes’ participation in sports.

Go on.

Last year, more than 30 states intro’d bills restricting trans people from playing on teams that match their gender identity. At least eight states have signed them into law. USA Swimming’s change comes amid controversy surrounding University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas. She previously competed for UPenn’s men’s swim team. But after undergoing more than two years of hormone replacement therapy, she’s now beating records on the women’s team. And not everyone’s showing Thomas support.

What are people saying?

Critics say cisgender women are at a disadvantage against trans athletes who underwent puberty as males. USA Swimming pointed to data showing that a top-ranked female swimmer in 2021 wouldn’t even rank in the top 300 for male events. Other research shows that trans athletes don’t have an unfair advantage. And a member of the Olympic committee's medical commission says there’s “no such” thing as a level playing field. Especially since everyone’s different (see: Michael Phelps’ wingspan). Still, orgs like the NCAA are also hitting ‘edit’ to their policies. Last month, the association said it would determine trans athlete participation based on the rules set by each sport’s national governing body, international federation, or the International Olympic Committee — and will now reportedly review USA Swimming’s update.


The sports world’s trying to create an even playing field for transgender and cisgender athletes. But how that’s done varies across sports organizations and seems to be a freestyle event. And it could put athletes’ sports aspirations at risk. 

And Also...This

Who’s keeping policy near the heart...

President Biden. Yesterday, the White House announced plans to cut cancer death rates in half by 2047 and “end cancer as we know it today.” Virtually every American family has been touched by the disease, including the first family. In 2015, then-VP Biden’s son Beau passed away from brain cancer. The following year, Biden led the Cancer Moonshot — an initiative aimed at accelerating the fight against cancer. Now, six years later, he’s relaunching an effort to strengthen prevention, screening, and research.

  • The fine print: The initiative aims to improve the experience of those living with and surviving cancer. And calls for increased access to cancer screenings, investment in new treatments for rare and childhood cancers, and to address inequities (think: ensuring every community has access to cutting-edge cancer diagnostics).

  • Show me the money: In 2016, Congress provided $1.8 billion to the Cancer Moonshot through the 21st Century Cures Act. About $400 million remains. Now, Biden’s pleading with Congress to provide more funding. Meanwhile, some experts say the admin’s goals aren’t aggressive enough.

…Oh and speaking of beating cancer, a new report is showing promising signs for one treatment’s ability to fight — and potentially defeat — leukemia.

What’s got people hitting refresh…

Ukraine. Yesterday, President Biden ordered the deployment of about 3,000 American troops to Eastern Europe. It comes as things along the Ukrainian-Russian border have been escalating. The Kremlin’s got about 100,000 troops there. And it’s got NATO and the US on edge. Now, Russia’s calling the deployments “destructive.” But that could be the least of Russia’s concerns. Since the US has a separate 8,500 US troops on standby. 

Who’s stepping down…

CNN’s Jeff Zucker. Yesterday, he resigned as the media company's president after acknowledging a “consensual relationship” with a colleague. In a memo to employees, Zucker says he was “wrong” for not disclosing the timeline of the relationship to the company. It comes weeks after CNN fired anchor Chris Cuomo amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

What's reinventing itself in 2022…

The Washington Commanders.

While about 100 million people are under weather alerts

Punxsutawney Phil’s predicting more winter.

Live Smarter

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