The Independent Council on Women's Sports (ICONS) is an American anti-transgender advocacy organization that opposes transgender athletes participating in women’s sports. ICONS hosts an annual International Women's Sports Summit, where anti-transgender activists are invited to give talks over the course of three days. They also contribute amicus briefs and organizational assistance to anti-transgender legal cases, and their co-founder, Kim Jones, has infrequently hosted a podcast to discuss ICONS’ activities since August of 2022.
A growing number of women and girls have been facing the humiliating and damaging experience of being forced to compete against males who identify as transgender in the women's sports category ... One male competing against women and girls negatively affects every girl he competes with, as well as every girl who loses a playing opportunity and every girl who must witness a female athlete being asked to step aside for the feelings of a male despite the knowledge that it is unfair to ask her to do so.
ICONS was founded on May 9th, 2022, as Women for Fairness in Sports, Inc., by president and director Marshi Kokmeyer, secretary Annie Grevers, treasurer and director Carley Baldwin, and director Kim Jones. Jones functions as the face of the organization, with Kokmeyer, Grevers and Baldwin having less publicly visible roles. The organization’s first public activity was to announce an International Women’s Sports Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, which they first tweeted about on June 7th, 2022. They filed to change the name of their organization to Independent Council on Women’s Sports on July 25th, 2022.
ICONS received their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on March 9th, 2023, and has yet to file or make available a Form 990 that would disclose their yearly earnings and officers or board of directors. They host a donations page on their website, with which you can donate between $10 and $500, or a custom amount, to their “Athlete Legal Fund,” “Disc Golf Fund,” or the “Area of Greatest Need.” Their Athlete Legal Fund is advertised as supporting athletes like April Hutchinsons, an anti-transgender powerlifter who has appeared on the now canceled Tucker Carlson Tonight.
International Women’s Sports Summit
ICONS’ first public activity was a June 26-28 International Women’s Sports Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2022. The event consisted of three days of speaking engagements by athletes, doctors and lawyers, who primarily discussed the alleged biological athletic inferiority of women and the unfairness of transgender female competition in sport. Several speakers had their own experiences to share competing against transgender athletes, like Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who tied for fifth place with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in 2022 and has dedicated herself to opposing trans women’s participation in sports as president of anti-transgender PAC Nine PAC.
The second summit took place in July of 2023 in Denver, Colorado and featured Gaines and others, including the Director of Advocacy for the anti-transgender activist organization Therapy Now (formerly Sex Matters) Helen Joyce, who once described transgender people as “a problem for a sane world” that “should be reduced”.
ICONS Scientific Claims
ICONS’ web page includes a science section which presents an incomplete and misleading picture of the science surrounding testosterone suppression. While it has been hypothesized that trans women could retain some advantage over cis women after testosterone suppression has fully taken effect, the available evidence does not currently support this belief.
History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism
In January of 2023, ICONS’ lawyers Lauren Adams Bone and Candice Jackson sent a letter to the NCAA demanding that they bar transgender athletes from competing, claiming that their presence constituted a violation of the Title IX requirements for equal opportunities in schools, despite the fact that Title IX has been interpreted in favor of transgender competitors since the Obama administration’s 2016 guidelines were issued. Organizations supporting the letter included anti-transgender activists Women’s Liberation Front and hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, among others. It was not their first letter to the NCAA; in March of 2022, ICONS, then operating under the name Women for Fairness in Sports, Inc., sent a similar letter to the NCAA Board of Governors.
ICONS has submitted amicus briefs against transgender athletes in court cases. In March of 2023 they submitted a brief in B.P.J. v West Virginia State Board of Education, a case in which the governor and state senate have attempted to ban a middle school girl from being a cheerleader and participating in her school’s cross-country team.
In June of 2023, ICONS and USA Power Lifting hosted a joint press conference to protest landmark legal case Cooper v. USA Power Lifting et al, in which USAPL was ordered to cease discriminatory practices and allow transgender women to compete in the women’s category by a Minnesota court. USAPL President Larry Maile stated that he would appeal the decision, and ICONS pledged to support their appeal by creating an online petition to “protect female athletes from discrimination.”