Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Why Your Well-Meaning ‘Enlightenment’ Is Actually Hurting Trans Girls

EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote about trans athletes on March 25 and then decided not to post it because despite how it may seem, this subject really isn't one of my hobby horses -- and I decided it didn't make sense to make it seem like it was. (I am a big fan of logic, however.) 


But then I saw this headline yesterday and about fell over laughing, so decided to go ahead and share. The NCAA wants you to applaud that it backs transgender athletes and says its events will be in places "free of discrimination." That's great news. But what you might not be considering is that the NCAA's self-described "more inclusive" policy for transgender athletes requires testosterone-suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women's sports, which just happens to be THE ONLY THING that many reasonable people -- including a number of LGBTQ activists -- who have been blasted as transphobic have been asking pro-inclusion activists to consider for post-pubescent athletes. And I'm convinced this entire new anti-trans movement could have been shot down -- just like the actually transphobic bathroom bills were -- if we had not allowed the hive mind of showing how much we "get it" to cloud our own sound judgment and give bigots a narrow but valid opening they were looking for. Read what I wrote HERE.


So I finally broke down yesterday to read up on this new organization formed to lobby about trans women in sports -- a group that has been ripped to shreds from the second it stepped forward a few weeks ago. 

Turns out, the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group includes an impressive list -- described by the State of Swimming blog as "an army of overachievers" -- of Olympic gold medalists, a civil rights lawyer and Olympian; a founder and president of a sports-management firm; and most notably, tennis legend Martina Navratilova. But from reading Twitter, you would think that the one bored housewife behind the so-called Million Mom movement was up to her usual tricks -- and had created a Facebook group to warn the world that girls will fall prey to sexual assaults by men in dresses if transgender females compete in sports. 

If I haven't already lost you, WSPWG's actual stated mission is this:
"To affirm the legal permissibility of separate girls’ and women’s competitive sport teams while including all trans girls and trans women under the girls’ and women’s sports umbrella. We reject both the effort to exclude trans girls and trans women from girls’ and women’s sport and the effort to disadvantage females by forcing them to compete against some trans athletes with male sex-linked physical advantages. There is a middle way."
Lest you think this sounds at all reasonable let alone inclusive, it took about three seconds to see most online commenters view this mission as evil and transphobic and that many were pretty much admitting they weren't even listening to what was being proposed based on the "gotcha" that the group doesn't have any trans members in it. These same critics seem to go out of their way to not mention that three prominent trans athletes -- Juniper Eastwood, Joanna Harper and Dr. Renee Richards -- signed on as supporters of the group and its mission.


Then Athlete Ally -- which I've been told by a prominent LGBTQ media figure is a front for rich gay guys to hang out with famous jocks -- issued this statement (above) that sounds good but does nothing to address the issues at hand. 

Athlete Ally also neglected to mention that it had given its 2015 Athlete Action award to -- are you ready? -- one of the aforementioned prominent trans athletes who supports the Women's Sport Policy Working Group. (That's Dr. Richards in the above photo.) 

Athlete Ally then tweeted an essay that claims WSPWG is looking for "a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist," which is both patently false and a reminder of the flippant responses pro-inclusion activists are wont to give. (Wow, way to start a dialogue!)


The closest anyone came to actually engaging with WSPWG's attempt at outreach was Outsports. But even its response was dripping with sarcasm, which I suppose is a relief from the usual onslaught anyone who doesn't fall in line with the orthodoxy is used to. (Outsports -- which unironically praised WSPWG for wanting to end "the vitriol"(!) -- fared better when a different writer addressed the topic in a guest piece for USA Today, if only because the condescension isn't repeated. But again, it sidesteps reality, opting instead to take exception to the use of "transmysoginistic terms" that only a gender-studies major could possibly find fault with, completely ignoring the group's sensitivity to trans people's various socioeconomic plights, transition choices and WSPWG's desire for inclusion.) 

Outsports writes: 
The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group took pains to note its desire to “accommodate transgender athletes” but there are questions about its so-called “science-based” approach: Whose science? 
Fair question, and I think that's exactly what the group would like to negotiate if people would stop hurling insults. (Remember, first one to scream "policing women's bodies" or "TERF" wins any argument in this echo chamber.) But you don't need to be an expert in the field to come up with my gut response: If no data exists to come up with a scientific-based policy -- which Outsports says is the case, thus rendering WSPWG's mission impossible -- how did the NCAA, the International Olympic Committee, World Athletics and other governing bodies come up with theirs?

And the NCAA's mission statement might sound familiar: 
"Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport.”
As disingenuous as the right is about all things trans, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the reason they are going ape shit with these culture-war trans sports bills is because they lost badly with their bathroom bills but then some states overreached in their (noble) efforts for inclusion and the right saw a narrow but valid opening to pounce. 

Here's what I mean by that: No matter how inclusive you want to be, you have to be honest with yourself: If males who merely identify as females but have not biologically transitioned in any way should be able to compete against cisgender females, why are sports divided into two categories at all? (There's a reason Caster Semenya's performance dropped measurably when her testosterone levels were lowered whether activists want to acknowledge it or not.) Activists had to know there would be a backlash and should have gotten ahead of it to address the issue on their terms instead of playing defense against a bunch of hatemongers.


Yes, the number of trans athletes isn't very large now. But as trans acceptance grows, so too will the number of trans athletes at all levels -- and we had a golden opportunity to set a favorable precedent. But because of well-meaning but hard-headed thinking, the wrong precedent is already taking place -- one that bans ALL trans athletes from competing. 

Now progressives have been backed into an untenable corner -- so either have to pretend they don't have common sense or face the wrath of their "enlightened" peers. No decent person likes being on the same side of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, but that is what these misguided beliefs have created . And at the risk of sounding as condescending as I've accused another writer of being, I just do not see how anyone looking at this objectively cannot see that an LGBTQ pioneer like Martina Navratilova -- as well Chris Evert, Pam Shriver and countless activists who are afraid to speak on the record but feel the same way -- wants what is best for women's sports.

It's shameful that we've wound up here but it's time we recalibrate so that as many trans girls can compete as possible -- and whether the loudest person on Twitter wants to admit it or not, that is what WSPWG is trying accomplish. 

Look at what the group is proposing HERE. It even allows for that pro-inclusion chestnut about trans kids who "just want to kick a ball around." (Spoiler: That's totally fine -- fairness is only an issue in post-pubescent athletes.) Trans activists say that the right is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. But I'd argue that trans activists helped create a problem that didn't need to exist.

If patting yourself on the back for calling Martina Navratilova transphobic is more important to you than ensuring the rights of trans girls to come, you might want to rethink your stance. She's without question one of the greatest athletes of all time and certainly knows more about the subject than any armchair activist with a Twitter account.

1 comment:

Michael Larkey said...

I 100% agree. This is the thinking we need to move forward.