Oberlin investigates women’s lacrosse coach for wanting women’s sports reserved for biological women

August 31, 2023 • 9:15 am

Just after it paid off millions of dollars to settle the Gibson’s Bakery case, Oberlin is back in the news again, and not in a particularly favorable way.  According to the video below, and the two news stories below it (click to read), the college has started harassing and investigating its women’s lacrosse coach, Kim Russell.  Why? The text just below is taken from the first news source, the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), which made the video as well, but the New York Post gives an identical story. And the video tells pretty much all the story, so watch that first:

From IWF:

In a documentary IWF produced telling her story, Russell talks about loving her lacrosse student-athletes as her own children. But following an Instagram post where Russell congratulated swimming star Emma Weyant for being the “real winner” of the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships in 2022 after she officially came in second behind UPenn’s Lia Thomas, one of her own lacrosse players reported Russell’s post to Oberlin’s athletic director. The report triggered a series of lengthy disciplinary meetings and a full-fledged character assassination campaign against her involving Oberlin faculty and the women’s lacrosse team.

[JAC: Lia Thomas is of course a biological male who has become a trans female and a winning swimmer when competing on women’s teams. And the disciplinary meetings were apparently recorded by coach Russell, and you can hear them in the video.]

Evidence now available to the public, the audio recordings depict the onslaught of verbal attacks Kim was met with from Oberlin administrators:

“Unfortunately, you fall into a category of people that are filled with hate in the world.”

“It’s acceptable to have your own opinions, but when they go against your college’s beliefs, it’s a problem. For your employment.”

“What Oberlin College subjected Kim Russell to for simply believing biological truths was nothing short of a modern, Maoist struggle session,” said Andrea Mew, storytelling coordinator at IWF and producer of the documentary.

Of course multiple investigation meetings constitute chilling of speech; they are punishment in themselves. As Russell says, “Every time I’ve spoken up, I’ve been silenced, which to me is the opposite of what I thought Oberlin would be.”

Apparently, Oberlin lacrosse players have drunk the Kool-Aid, as several women on the team speak up against Russell.

Now Russell was speaking as a private individual on an Instagram post, so her speech was not representing Oberlin College or its policy. Nevertheless, Oberlin College does in fact have a policy for participation of trans women on women’s teams, and it says this (I’ve bolded the relevant bits):

1. A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for purposes of NCAA competition may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s
team without changing that team status to a mixed team.

2. A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression

Any transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in sex-separated sports activities in accordance with his or her assigned birth gender.

• A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team.

• A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.

According to this, trans females can’t compete on women’s teams unless they are taking hormone treatments, and, even in that case the womenh’s team has to be changed to a “mixed team,” which doesn’t seem to be the case for women’s lacrosse at Oberlin.  It’s conceivable that although Russell was speaking as a private individual and has the right to free speech, if there were trans women on the team her sentiments could be interpreted as invalidating the participation of those trans women, creating a hostile “athletics environment”. And that may violate Oberlin’s policy to the extent that they could discipline her.

What’s not clear in this policy is whether, if all trans-women on the lacrosse team have completed a year of testosterone suppression, the team can now revert to a women’s team. In that case, Russell is indeed attacking members of the team she coaches.  Oberlin needs to rewrite #2 above to clarify this.

But given that there is no “mixed lacrosse team” at Oberlin, and no sign that it was once a “mixed team” that has reverted to a “women’s team”, I can’t see Russell violating University policy in any way with her Instagram post, and therefore she didn’t deserve the pile-on she got from Oberlin officials.  Read more about this in the two articles below.

From the Independent Women’s Forum (click to read):

As I’ve written before, given the scientific data that men who have completed male puberty retain body-related athletic advantages over women for years, even if they’re taking hormone treatment, such trans women shouldn’t be allowed to compete in athletics against biological women. And it almost goes without saying that it’s unfair for biological men who identify as women but haven’t been medically treated to compete against biological women.

What’s not clear here is whether Russell violated Oberlin policy. My feeling is that she didn’t, since there is no “mixed” lacrosse team at her college, and she was speaking as a private individual.  Still, although I agree with her sentiments, given her position as coach, I wouldn’t have put up that Instagram post

And it’s unconscionable for Oberlin officials to investigate and discipline Russell without clear charges of what exact policy she’s supposed to be violating.  It appears that she was persecuted for violating the “college’s beliefs,” but colleges shouldn’t have “beliefs” on this issue; they should have policies. And although they do, the policies are unclear.

My own view is that Oberlin should either have three teams: men’s, women’s (reserved for biological women) and mixed; or, alternatively, trans women should be allowed to compete on the men’s team, which should then be designated as “open”.

From the New York Post (click to read):

h/t: Jez, Mark

45 thoughts on “Oberlin investigates women’s lacrosse coach for wanting women’s sports reserved for biological women

  1. If brave women don’t speak up, women will become second class citizens again. In regards to her employment, the Instagram post may have been unwise, but she should be allowed to express her opinions without harassment.

  2. There’s a general idea of “social credit” floating around. What this means here is, cynically, the question of incentives for social police work needs to be considered.

    China has an unclear social credit thing going on. The idea is if individuals report on citizens doing things in ideological competition to the peoples’ standpoint, they get rewards – from otherwise obscure entities with money. And money is what Oberlin is interested to offset their loss.

    If not money, other incentives could work as well.

    1. The Orville did an episode about a society that had taken that sort of thing to an extreme, powered by smart phone and internet analogs.

  3. ““It’s acceptable to have your own opinions, but when they go against your college’s beliefs, it’s a problem. For your employment.” Exactly correct for reactionary Christian
    colleges and for Oberlin. One hopes that Oberlin will soon make this clear by merging formally with Lynchburg, Hillsdale, or another of the institutions it resembles so well.

  4. What more could you ask for in a school such as this. What other schools should be doing is refusing to play with any school allowing trans to play. Not that it matters that much to this school.

    1. That’s brilliant

      Or how about when the women’s team with a trans dude arrives, the men’s team go trans for three hours and show up to the game. All they need is to “identify” – gnosis – abracadabra.

      In fact there could be an option : like a video game – “select your player”.

      I mean it’s a game, right? Meet the challenge.

      But this is all facetious rhetoric – it’d be sad to do that, and only serve to illustrate the true nature of it.

  5. My daughter was considering both Oberlin and Denison for college several years back, two Ohio private colleges about 100 miles apart. My daughter was required to have in-person interviews at both schools as part of the admissions process. In the Denison interview, I asked the the admissions director if he could share his thoughts on the differences between Oberlin and Denison. I mentioned to him that, for example, I had heard that Oberlin was more liberal that Denison. The admissions director laughed and responded: “I can tell you that Denison is very liberal. But ABSOLUTEY NOTHING is as liberal as Oberlin!”

    Let me say that I consider myself to be quite liberal, and find myself in agreement with Jerry on pretty much every issue. I’ll spare you the details, but on the following day I took my daughter to Oberlin for her interview and was blown away by how absolutely over the top crazy liberal it was in every respect. A total LaLa Land. (With a bit of encouragement from me, my daughter ended up going to Denison.)

  6. I’ve been reading Leonard Levy’s Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, From Moses to Salman Rushdie. The more I read, the more convinced I am that, in cases like this, organizations are really attacking blasphemy. Russell has violated the faithful’s and the powerful’s dearly held beliefs, and they are enraged. As in many blasphemy cases, how, exactly, the words constitute blasphemy aren’t important; everyone agrees that what was said was awful. The person needs to be punished for the good of the community, lest others are swayed to the same errors or civil strife occurs. Ultimately, though, the people in power are just offended.

  7. The only thing that can stop this for good is a lawsuit. A few more the likes of the Gibson’s Bakery case will put Oberlin out of business. Speak up, Kim Russell, and retain an attorney.

  8. I recall a time when Oberlin was a well-respected, progressive college. Two of my friends attended there in the 70s and are now successful attorneys. They both are horrified by the current administration. I wish their alumni could do more to stop this descent into insanity.

  9. What’s particularly frustrating/heartbreaking here is the way the girls on the lacrosse team seem to think they’ve been “harmed” by a beloved coach expressing the view that women’s bodies play in women’s sports. What, would they gladly drop out of the lacrosse team if males who identified as women were “better qualified?” Is struggling hard to do your athletic best less important than “being kind?”

    This is not progressive.

    1. And oy the language used by Oberlin! “A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria…” is not female. That person might imagine himself to be a woman, but he is male.

    2. I feel the same about the Wyoming sorority that admitted a very creepy young man. Though some girls objected, others voted him in under the guise of kindness and inclusion. There are some men who are happy (or even excited) to intrude more and more on women’s spaces, while women are busy being “kind.”

      1. I don’t think it ultimately matters whether the TW are deliberately being predatory or are sincere and well-intentioned. Trans-identified males in women’s spaces seems to me like alternative medicine in respected medical centers. Wanting to be “inclusive” and accept people’s personal testimony should never trump a clear-headed assessment of the situation and why it exists in the first place.

        1. +1

          The Trojan Horse word “inclusive” has been established. This is standard Wokecraft “alchemy of the word” (Marcuse).

          It is, AFAIK, irreversible.

    1. You may not be correct about this. By odd coincidence, my parking space overlooks a women’s Lacrosse field. I see a lot of women’s Lacrosse as a consequence. It doesn’t look all that brutal to me.

    1. I am too, re loading the page does not work either but it is not constant, sometimes it is there, sometimes not

    2. Yes, very annoying. However I just installed the “PopUpOFF” add-on to my Firefox browser and it seems to have taken care of it.

  10. If Oberlin is truly “over the top crazy liberal” in the conventional sense, I suppose that means that John Locke and John Stuart Mill are absolutely cancelled—perhaps replaced by such contemporary philosophers as Mark Ruffalo and the Duchess of Sussex.

    More seriously, I wonder how long Oberlin’s transformation into a niche/bubble will go on. Once upon a time, didn’t the college have a reasonable reputation?

  11. Cricket has just started to go down this crazy path. The Canadians have chosen a trans-woman to play in their international team. This isn’t trivial: the boundary which is where you can score the most runs in one go ( 4 or 6) is always closer to the centre of the ground when compared with men’s. The much higher upper body strength of a trans player who has been through male puberty will give her a much greater advantage when compared with natal women, It is grossly unfair.

    1. Will give him a much greater advantage. He is male. Opposition teams should object but knowing Canada and its well known “Awash with Transphobia hate” according to the virtue signalling PM, objection will be categorised the same.

      1. The other teams have no grounds to complain about Canada. Their own international cricket federation allows men to compete as women as long as they keep their testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L. (normal for a woman is =< 2.4) The Canadian man meets those rules according to the BBC story. He doesn't have to meet them to play in Canada but he does for international play.

        The other teams should hire their own batsmen-ringers, dope them down to 5, and let them have at it.

        Canada has no tradition of cricket, except among folks with roots in the former British colonies in the West Indies and the Indian subcontinent beginning only in the 1960s. Presumably the national team will finish obscurely near the bottom, as in football, and there will be no fuss. But if the team is a contender, watch the sparks fly.

        Women sign on to these inclusive-sounding rules to avoid accusations of transphobia, hoping to God that no trans athletes show up during their playing or bureaucratic careers. But when one does, hoo-boy.

        1. Once when I was in Bangladesh I saw an ad for a Canadian Uni whose main pitch for enrolment was “we have a cricket team”.

        2. A thought struck me later, as a long time cricket fan and reasonably batsman in my day I wonder if this player wears a “ cricket box” would be a give away but in my experience a good idea to avoid body bowlers and off balls but maybe all that is gone? Good protection though.

  12. Whoever gives money to Oberlin, must stop. Let it go bankrupt.
    Also, I think that all women should immediately leave any sport event in which trans women are allowed to compete with biological women. (I am all for renaming “male” to “open” and allowing trans women, and anyone else who wishes, compete there – and, as far as I know, men don’t mind it.)

  13. The NCAA policy on transgender athletes has changed since Oberlin wrote their interpretation of it. (That’s why the NCAA link on Oberlin’s site doesn’t work.) The new policy updated Apr 2023 (but not redated in the URL) is here:


    The NCAA now, in line with the International Olympic Committee, tells all sports to follow the policies determined by their own national or (failing a national body) their international governing body. Many sports have abandoned testosterone levels as not helpful in determining whether a natal male who has been through puberty loses or retains that advantage. So Oberlin’s policy reproduced in Jerry’s post may or may not be correct for lacrosse, the subject of the kerfuffle. I found that USA Lacrosse had announced last year a review that was intended to produce a policy more inclusive of transgendered athletes, which is usually a tell for “no testosterone suppression” but I don’t know if they, too, have abandoned testosterone levels and/or proof of suppression.

    Some high-profile sports worried about their credibility have totally banned natal males ever competing against women, which is of course the scientifically sensible approach. Many lesser sports where inclusivity and kindness trump fair competition and the safety of female players have not done so. Many sports and many jurisdictions simply mandate self-definition of sex/gender at all levels, with testing at elite levels only to police doping with pharmaceutical testosterone. A natal male with a T of 30 nmol/L (within the normal male range) would be cleared to play as a woman as long as there was no fingerprint of doping in the assay.

    There is another wrinkle in this, which might explain why the Oberlin lacrosse women have attacked their coach. Feminists have objected to the “policing of female bodies” in sports with gynecologic exams historically and now T testing which is more commonly used for doping by women than by men. (Because men are already soaked in natural T, they favour other, synthetic anabolic steroids.) They oppose the use of T to detect and exclude men who are presenting as women on the same policy grounds (even though the people who would be excluded are not in fact women.) Their argument is that only “women” will be subjected to testing and excluded if their T is above 2.4, or 5, or 10, whatever. They also oppose rules that require women with medical conditions to take drugs to reduce natural testosterone levels. So they favour allowing all athletes calling themselves women* to compete without testing for natural testosterone as the “greatest good” policy.
    * “Women” as defined here could include (natal, the only kind there are) women with medical conditions that cause elevated testosterone, “women” with sex-identity dysphoria who choose not to suppress their normal male levels of testosterone, intersex athletes with testes whose eligibility seems to go back and forth, and perhaps even women doping with testosterone.

  14. A brave woman — good luck to her. It’s always good to be reminded that women are being sidelined in sports every day, in situations that usually don’t make headlines. https://www.shewon.org/ maintains a database of cases where a woman has been denied a podium place by a trans athlete, and it already has more than 500 entries.

    1. Cycling seems to dominate the list – haven’t they recently changed the rules so in the continuing list cycling may be less dominant.

  15. I want to ask these numbskulls if Mike Tyson turned up at a womens boxing tournament even with the testosterone treatment declaring s he was now a women, would you let a women get in the ring and call it a fair match…
    extreme as this example may be some sports administrators need a good ‘punch’ to see common sense.

    1. Why not ask them about Fallon Fox? They absolutely did let women get in the ring with him. Fox has had some sort of surgery. He really liked hurting women, said so himself.

      During Fox’s fight against Tamikka Brents on September 13, 2014, Brents suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and seven staples to the head in the 1st round. After her loss, Brents took to social media to convey her thoughts on the experience of fighting Fox: “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right,” she stated. “Her grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch …”.

      1. Thanks for the link Leslie, it never occurred to me to look for a actual instance of this happening. Ashlee Evans- Smith must one tough fighter to take Fox on and win. I see she won by TKO (punches) so she knew how to throw one.

        1. Here’s what Evans-Smith had to say about the fight:

          I stayed in it not because I wanted to fight a transgender fighter, but because I felt like it was my time and my money. There was never a second where I wasn’t going to fight her.”

          That’s because, for starters, the winner of the CFA tournament was promised $20,000 in prize money. That meant a lot to Smith, who had just turned pro after an extensive amateur career, and was “pinching pennies really hard” just to get by as a part-time cocktail waitress and kid’s wrestling coach in southern California.

          Her financial situation got bleaker when, a couple weeks before her bout with Fox, the establishment where she worked as a waitress abruptly closed with no warning to the staff.

          “I was scared because I’ve never been without a job, but then I realized it meant more time to train for my fight,” Smith said. “I wanted to win that money for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that if I didn’t win I would have had to come home and sell some ovaries or something. I didn’t know what I would have done. Now I was able to come home and pay some rent.”


        2. Fallon Fox is a legend (in a negative way) for having convinced Joe Rogan that men don’t belong in women’s sports. The reference to Joe Rogan is quite deliberate. He is (of course) very well-known. But he was also a MMA judge.

  16. The cynic inside me says we need a certain type of scientific data, the sort gained from letting this happen for some years. It may sound crazy, but I think we need a phase of this going for some time.

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