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School board hopeful’s views on transgender athletes raise concern


Members of the community are asking the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees to reconsider one of six people in the running to replace Andrew Caudill, who announced his resignation as the trustee for District C in late May.

The school board trustees will meet to vote on Caudill’s replacement Tuesday at 9 a.m., but a recently shared social media post from one candidate—Sean McCaffrey, a former manager for gambling company Aristocrat—is raising hackles.

In January, McCaffrey shared a Wall Street Journal opinion column accusing President Joe Biden of issuing an executive order placing “all girls’ sports and women’s safe spaces in the crosshairs of the administrative state.”

Section one of the executive order reads, in part, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

McCaffrey wrote in his public post, “What??? Is this what we can expect these next four years? What’s the definition of a boy identifying as a girl?”

The opinion column alleges that the executive order directs “any school that receives federal funding—including nearly every public high school—must either allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto [sic] girls’ sports teams or face administrative action from the Education Department” and asks, “If this policy were to be broadly adopted in anticipation of the regulations that are no doubt on the way, what would this mean for girls’ and women’s sports?”

The executive order contains no such language.

In response to the community calls for the WCSD Board of Trustees to reject him as a candidate, McCaffrey wrote to the trustees, saying he was “compelled to refute derogatory and untrue statements” regarding his “position on equity and equality.”

“You have a major decision to make next week and I thought it prudent to clearly state my position so you can make an informed decision,” McCaffrey wrote.

He went on to say, “I believe in equality, which is to say that every student be treated equally and fairly… When a young man participating in track and field doesn’t perform well against his peer and then decides to compete against female athletes because he identifies that way, that creates an unfair advantage and I absolutely believe this is wrong and a disservice to the female athletes who have sacrificed and worked hard to compete at their best level.”

McCaffrey said he believes we “are getting into a new territory with athletes identifying as other genders.”

Brooke Maylath, an advocate with Transgender Allies Group, said, “If he has such a primitive concept of gender and sex, he should automatically be excluded from a position of authority over children.”

The American Civil Liberties Union identifies four myths about trans athletes. One of the four is the myth that trans athletes have an advantage in sports. 

From the organization’s website:

“A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance,” according to Dr. Joshua D. Safer. “For a trans woman athlete who meets NCAA standards, ‘there is no inherent reason why her physiological characteristics related to athletic performance should be treated differently from the physiological characteristics of a non-transgender woman.’” 

Research cited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also notes that “substantial musculoskeletal sex differences don’t emerge until puberty and thus aren’t significant for children who transition from male to female via hormonal treatments beforehand.”

Furthermore, research cited by the NCAA also points to the fact that trans women who make the shift via hormonal therapy after puberty, lose any male muscle-mass advantage within a year.

Stories concerning trans girls playing on school sports teams have been prevalent in right wing media outlets since Biden issued his executive order six months ago. 

They often claim the Biden administration’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972—which states that “No person in the United Shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”—counters its original intent.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration made clear to schools in 2016 that Title IX protected transgender students.

The WCSD’s Administrative Regulation 5161, “Gender Identity and Gender Non-Conformity—Students,” states:

“Transgender and gender nonconforming students shall be permitted to participate in physical education classes and intramural sports in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity” and notes that participation “in interscholastic athletics by transgender and gender non-conforming students in a manner consistent with their gender identity will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the rules and bylaws governing interscholastic sports competition, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.”

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.