Former ESPN Anchor Sage Steele Explains Why It ‘Matters’ That Sportscasters Speak Up About Trans Athletes in Women’s Sports

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

In yet another instance of trans athletes competing and excelling in women’s sports, a trans powerlifter won first place at a Canadian competition and set a national record for women’s deadlift. It marked the tenth time the lifter has won an event in the female division.

On Thursday’s show, Megyn was joined by former ESPN sportscaster Sage Steele to discuss the problem with biological men competing in women’s sports and why sports journalists should be leading the way in speaking out against it.

[Editor’s Note: You can learn more about Megyn’s position on preferred pronouns here.]

Trans Powerlifter Wins Women’s Championship

On Sunday, trans powerlifter Ann Andres won first place in the Females Master Unequipped category at the Western Canadian Powerlifting & Bench Press Championships – setting an official national record and unofficial world record for women’s deadlift in the process. The category is for female powerlifters between the ages of 40 and 50 who do not use supportive equipment. Andres lifted 200 kilograms (or nearly 450 pounds) more than the woman who finished second.

The Canadian Powerlifting Union’s trans inclusion policy – which has been called into question in the aftermath of Andres’ performance – states that “trans athletes should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify, regardless of whether or not they have undergone hormone therapy.”

Andres reportedly started identifying as a woman some two decades ago but did not pick up a barbell until seven years ago. He has nearly a dozen first-place finishes in that time and is now set to represent Canada at the World Masters Powerlifting Championships in October as a woman.

The Lack of Media Attention

Steele has been outspoken on the issue of trans athletes in women’s sports – USWNT player Megan Rapinoe even name-checked her in an interview on the topic earlier this summer – but she said her previous employer was not interested in covering the topic. “I have been saying since like the Lia Thomas thing came out… ‘We need to be doing this story. This is a big deal,’’ she recalled. “At some point, what I’ve really had to learn is to pick and choose my battles… and there’s certain things that I know that we’re not going to report.”

In her view, pushing back against men competing in women’s sports shouldn’t be controversial. “I’ve gotten so sick of that ‘science’ word over the last couple of years with the pandemic, and now we’re going to ignore it? I’m done… it is a load of crap,” she said. “Listen, if this were going both ways, we’d have a conversation. But the fact it’s only going one way is proof – there are no women trying to go play in the NBA, or the NFL, or college football aside from a kicker here or there.”

Why Sportscasters Should Speak Up

When Steele first started talking about trans issues on social media, she expected backlash. But she said she was “willing to die on that hill… because it matters.” While her two daughters are not playing competitive sports anymore, she has a 13-year-old niece who is a softball and volleyball player. “I feel obligated… as a sportscaster for 20 years to talk about this openly and stop ignoring it,” she said. “I don’t know why the entire… sports media is silent about this.”

She believes there is a lot that could be done to protect female athletes and sports if only women would join forces. “This is the one issue… that I feel like if we came together as women just in the media, just sports broadcasters, this will go away,” she concluded. “We are giving away our power with it, and… we are going to regret this.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Steele by tuning in to episode 610 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.