On Tuesday, Facebook flagged an ad attacking Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) for supporting a bill that would undermine fairness in women’s sports by allowing biological males who identify as transgender to compete in women’s events. Citing PolitiFact, Facebook claimed that the ad “is missing context and could mislead people.” PolitiFact did not claim that the ad was false, but it reframed the issue in defense of the bill.
“Today, Facebook caved to a pressure campaign by far-left activists, effectively censoring our effort to inform voters about Democrat threats to women’s athletics,” American Principles Project (APP) PAC Director Terry Schilling wrote in a statement.
“Our ad campaign makes a very simple claim: policies supported by Joe Biden, Sen. Gary Peters and other Democrats would destroy girls’ sports. There is ample evidence for this claim and more coming in every day. Nothing in the PolitiFact review shows this claim to be false,” Schilling explained. “Yet Facebook has nevertheless decided to declare that our ad might ‘mislead people’ because it is ‘missing context.’ Apparently, they believe the ad will only be fair if we also include the leftist ‘arguments’ against us.”
“Do we now need pre-approval from Democrats before we run ads critical of their policies? This is an absurd standard — one which Facebook obviously doesn’t hold the other side to,” the APP director concluded.
APP shared the flag with PJ Media. “A Post Shared by Your Page Is Missing Context,” the notice reads. “Independent fact-checkers at PolitiFact say that information in a post shared by American Principles Project is missing context and could mislead people. We’ve added a notice to the post.”
The anti-Biden ad
“All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition: at a scholarship, at a title, at victory,” the ad begins.
“But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Senator Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls’ sports. They call it equality. Really? That’s not fair. Not fair at all,” the voiceover reads as videos show teenage girls running a race and losing to a boy.
“Vote against Gary Peters and Joe Biden. They are too extreme for Michigan,” the ad concludes.
This ad echoes longstanding complaints about the dangers of allowing biological males who claim to be transgender to compete against biological females in women’s sports.
In February, three high school girls and their mothers filed a Title IX lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), challenging pro-transgender rules that allow biological males to compete in women’s high school sports. The three girls have lost multiple state championships to biological boys who identify as female.
“While boys and girls have comparable athletic capabilities before boys hit puberty, male puberty quickly increases the levels of circulating testosterone in healthy teen and adult males to levels ten to twenty times higher than the levels that occur in healthy adult females, and this natural flood of testosterone drives a wide range of physiological changes that give males a powerful physiological athletic advantage over females,” the lawsuit explains. “Inescapable biological facts of the human species [are] not stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relicts of past discrimination.”
The suit lists 8 broad physiological athletic advantages males enjoy over girls and women after the onset of puberty, including larger lungs, larger hearts, an increased number of muscle fibers and muscle mass, higher myoglobin within muscle fibers (enabling faster transfer of oxygen to those muscles), larger and longer bones, increased mineral density in bones, and height.
Due to these long recognized advantages, sporting events have long had different standards for boys and girls to accommodate the athletic striving of biological females. For example, women’s volleyball nets are 7 inches lower, the weight of high school shot put for boys is 36 percent heavier, the hurdle is 6 inches higher for boys, etc.
Even the Journal of Medical Ethics, which has published an article calling for Child Protective Services to remove gender-confused kids from their parents if the parents won’t give them experimental transgender drugs, also published an article condemning the “intolerable unfairness” of the Olympic Committee’s pro-transgender rules.
Yet Democrats like Biden and Peters have endorsed the Equality Act, a pro-transgender measure that would open women’s sports to biological males, without any provisions to mitigate the clear physical advantages males have over females.
PolitiFact did not claim the ad was false, but it did reframe the issue in a way that benefitted Biden and Peters.
“The basis of the attack? Peters has co-sponsored the Equality Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education and public accommodations. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also supports the bill,” PolitiFact explained.
The “fact-check” ran with a “Republicans pounce” angle. “While the legislation addresses discrimination in a range of areas, many Republican opponents have focused on the fact that it would allow transgender students to compete on school sports teams based on their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth. … Their specific criticism is that allowing transgender girls and women to compete on the basis of their gender identity would create an uneven playing field for [student-athletes] and ultimately end girls’ and women’s sports. That’s a prediction we can’t fact-check.”
PolitiFact ran a quote from Peters’ reelection campaign toward the top of the article, denouncing the ad as “a blatant attempt to mislead voters and distort the truth about the Equality Act.” PolitiFact reserved Schilling’s quote for the twenty-fifth paragraph of the article, after quotes from Peters supporting the bill in 2015 and a supporter at the National Women’s Law Center.
PolitiFact did not even mention the fact that many feminists — and some outspoken lesbians — have joined with conservatives in opposing the Equality Act because it opens up women’s private spaces to biological men. This is not to say that all people who identify as transgender are a threat to women, only that bans on “discrimination” against transgender people cannot protect women from men who masquerade as transgender in order to prey upon them.
American Principles Project is working on an appeal with Facebook, but appeals go through Facebook’s independent fact-checkers. It remains unclear what “context” PolitiFact would require APP to add in order to get the flag removed.
Will PolitiFact — through Facebook — force APP to support the Equality Act, by effectively erasing the voices that oppose it? How is this not an act of interference in the 2020 election?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.