Roanoke City Councilman Peter Volosin is facing criticism for his response to Roanoke College female swimmers who expressed concerns about competing against a male-born transgender swimmer. Volosin suggested that female athletes should simply “work harder” if they want to beat transgender competitors, a comment that has ignited a heated debate.
Transgender Athlete Joins Women’s Team
The controversy began when 10 Roanoke female swimmers raised objections against a male-born student who had previously swum on the men’s team but was now joining the women’s team following a gender transition.
The swimmers called on both the NCAA and the Virginia state legislature to protect their sport.
Council Member’s Controversial Remark
Volosin, a former Brown University swimmer and an openly gay individual defended transgender athletes, emphasizing the importance of allowing them to compete based on their gender identity.
He argued that preventing them from doing so adds an unnecessary burden and is mentally draining.
Volosin Claims They’re “Selfish” to Want to Win
In an interview, Volosin referred to the objections from female swimmers as “a bit selfish.” He stated, “In some ways, it’s a bit selfish in saying, ‘Oh, I should beat this person,’ or, ‘I should have gotten first place,’ or, ‘I should do this,’ or whatever. If you should do that, you should be training harder.”
Gaines Fires Back
However, his remarks did not sit well with some, including NCAA All-American swimmer Riley Gaines. Gaines took to social media to express her frustration, stating, “Peter Volosin is a Roanoke City Council Member who says if women want to beat men, they should just ‘train harder.'”
She criticized his suggestion, calling it “ignorant, arrogant, and infuriating,” and accused him of placing the burden of transgender individuals’ mental health on women.
The Independent Council on Women’s Sports also weighed in on the issue, urging people to “vote out the men who belittle girls’ achievements in sports.”
Roanoke College’s Stance
Roanoke College issued a statement indicating that the male-born student, who had initially considered joining the women’s swim team, had decided against it. The college criticized the NCAA’s transgender athlete policy as “confusing.”
The debate over transgender athletes in women’s sports has been intensifying, with female athletes increasingly voicing concerns about fairness versus inclusion.
Some states have passed laws barring male-born athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s school sports, while others have different restrictions or none at all.
National Organizations Weigh In
More than 200 individuals, organizations, and civic leaders, including Volosin, responded to the Roanoke female swimmers’ press conference by signing an open letter titled “Hate Has No Place in Roanoke, Virginia.”
The letter denounced the presence of national anti-transgender hate groups and expressed support for all transgender students and student-athletes.
Differing Views on Trans Athlete Inclusion
The organizations mentioned in the letter, such as the Independent Women’s Forum, Women’s Liberation Front, and Women’s Declaration International, have opposing views on allowing male-born athletes who identify as female in girls’ and women’s sports.
Some consider them anti-transgender, while others view them as champions of women’s rights in sports.
Volosin also praised Harvard University for its handling of transgender swimmer Schuyler Bailar’s participation based on gender identity. Mr. Bailar graduated in 2019 and was female-born but identifies as a man.
The debate surrounding transgender athletes in sports remains a complex and contentious issue, with varying opinions on how to strike a balance between inclusivity and fair competition.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund