Problem Doesn’t Exist if You Ignore It

Apparently, all those states legislating on transgender kids playing sports are doing it for no reason.

The Washington Post gave some of its limited op-ed space to soccer star Megan Rapinoe to argue, “Bills to ban transgender kids from sports try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.” Frustratingly, literally nowhere in the essay does she even obliquely address the problem that those bills are trying to solve.

Instead, she tells us that sports are value for the development of kids, that trans kids deserve the opportunity to play, and then several more paragraphs reiterating those points.

Well . . . okay.

But what of the actual concerns that people who are physically boys playing in girls’ sports will tend to dominate girls’ sports, thus upending the entire point of having girls’ sports? Can we at least handwave that away? As close as we get is:

Proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women. As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women’s and girls’ sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay.

That’s a really lousy deflection. Whether these things are true has nothing whatsoever to do with transgender kids playing school sports.

She simply ignores the claimed problem, asserts that therefore no problem exists, and charges those who claim that there is a problem with being bad people.

There are arguments to be made, certainly, that the bills do more harm than good. That the emotional toll being prohibited from competing in their chosen sex outweighs the unfairness to the girls who have to compete with them. That the numbers are too small to impose a draconian policy at the state level. But, to make an argument, you have to acknowledge the actual controversy at hand, not pretend that there’s nothing to see here.

Granting that she’s a famous athlete, it baffles me that the WaPo editors published this.

UPDATE: For an example of a much-better-argued op-ed taking this side of the debate, see Veronica Ivy (then Rachel McKinnon)’s December 2019 essay in the New York Times titled “I Won a World Championship. Some People Aren’t Happy.” While I’m not fully convinced of her argument, she actually acknowledges the issues in play and addresses them.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    But what of the actual concerns that people who are physically boys playing in girls’ sports will tend to dominate girls’ sports, thus upending the entire point of having girls’ sports?

    OK, name one trans girl who has dominated girls’ sports. I mean, of the thousands of girls who get athletic scholarships to college programs, you should be able to find at least one trans girl, right? Surely this would be HUGE news, wouldn’t it?

    But you can’t, because there aren’t any. Trans girls don’t dominate girls’ sports.

    So Rapinoe is right, there is not an actual problem. All this “concern” is simply a transparent pretext for the expression of transphobia.

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  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    For a while, I’ve mostly ignored this issue and took the claims of trans-girls dominating sports at face value. But with all the recent legislative activity, over the weekend I reviewed a couple of pretty comprehensive articles that analyze the arguments for and against. Frankly, whatever problem exists it is pretty small and not worth the legislative attention being spent on it.

    This is another example of an intellectually bereft party seeking another culture war issue. The R’s no longer have ideas, they only have grievance.

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  3. Jen says:

    I’d really like to see actual data on this, because I suspect Rapinoe is right.

    The number of trans kids out there is small, with roughly 3% of teens identifying as transgender. Then, from that number, there are apparently more trans boys than trans girls. Then, from that, one needs to parse out how many are then even interested in sports.

    It’s ridiculous that this is even being legislated.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey: @Sleeping Dog: @Jen: My whole point is that Rapinoe supplies no argument. You’re supplying an argument, which I also offered up in the OP, for her.

    There’s no huge issue in college or Olympic level sports, because they have various strictures in place like hormonal testing. Indeed, I had a post about this way back in 2012. While there remains some controversy, as late-transitioning people may retain some advantages in sports like weightlifting, we’re mostly left with fringe cases like what to do about intersex people like Castor Semenya.

    These by and large don’t exist at the high school level, where there have been a whole lot of cases of trans girls dominating girls’ sports. Whether these are enough to implement this policy—or whether a better policy like hormonal treatments is better—is worthy of argument. Rapinoe simply doesn’t engage with the problem, though, handwaving it away.

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    My whole point is that Rapinoe supplies no argument.

    Rapionoe is giving the default, liberal argument for any issue, an emotional appeal on behalf of the purported victim and an appeal to fairness. It’s formulaic, tried and true and will only be successful with those who agree with you. Funny thing about her argument, is that you can use it, to justify banning trans-girls, simply by summing the argument up with a different conclusion. Yeah, she was intellectually lazy.

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  6. KM says:

    These by and large don’t exist at the high school level, where there have been a whole lot of cases of trans girls dominating girls’ sports.

    First, please cite your sources. If the complaint is Rapinoe didn’t give specifics, then you don’t get to use “a lot” in your criticism of her argument as it’s the exact same error. “A lot” is what – ten cases, 50, 100? Out of how many athletes over how many sports. It’s no better than “many people are saying” – if it’s such a big deal, there should be easy and convincing stats to cite. Who was affected, what was lost, what damaged was incurred, etc….

    Secondly, as a female that plays sports I’m finding it really interesting how when the women affected by this speak up to say how it’s not such a big deal, we get ignored. Some of us *have* competed with trans folk during our youth and adulthood and our actual experiences are getting dismissed in favor of ill-defined “facts”. There’s a real strain of sexism in telling a women who’s done the thing in question for decades she doesn’t know she’s talking about but the guy who’s never going to experience it knows better. I’m sure there’s a word for that……

    Finally, if there is a problem with this, it’s clearly not in every sport since again, there isn’t mass evidence of it. At best, it would be occurring in sports without classifications regards to things like height, weight, strength, speed, etc. There is always going to be someone bigger, faster or stronger than you are; the complaint seems to be that certain people are angry they are no longer the biggest fish in their narrowly defined pond.

    How many teenage girls are still going through hormonal changes when playing sports and suffer a disadvantage because of it? If we are ignoring chemical changes in the body a la puberty in these sports, what logic is there to ignoring someone transitioning? If we ignoring skeletal and muscular differences in growing body types, why is any different for someone born with a different body type that might naturally more muscular or taller? Honestly, it’s like saying because “whites can’t jump” AA’s shouldn’t be allowed to play basketball with them due to physical differences. Physical variation happens.

    If you are only the best of all the girls under a certain height and weight and speed age in a sport where those are not defined classes, you’re not the best. You’ve narrowed down the field so artificially you’re going to get your ass kicked when you try to compete for real….. which is what ends up happening when these girls come of out HS and try in college. They are claiming they not getting scholarship money because they cannot compete. It sounds remarkably like the cases where parents sued because their Perfect Grades Student didn’t get in because their scores weren’t enough to compete against Asian students and somehow that wasn’t fair. They were the BEST!!!… until real competition came along then somehow it was cheating.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @KM: There are quite a few that have made the news, although Google returns are dominated by a Connecticut lawsuit and the case of a trans boy being forced against his will to compete with girls, who he’s dominating. I have no idea how total cases there are.

    But my frustration here is for WaPo for publishing a really shitty op-ed that handwaves the issue rather than engaging in it. Rapinoe isn’t an intellectual so may not understand what the rules of the space are. But the editorial board should have rejected the piece or worked with her to strengthen it.

    Your last two paragraphs are just muddying the waters. We have girls’ sports because, absent a separate category, few girls would be able to participate in organized athletics. As I’ve written before, this gets complicated because it’s predicated on there being precisely two sexes.

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  8. senyordave says:

    These bills are almost always hastily written, crafted to satisfy the right, especially right wing Christian groups. They are generally mean-spirited, and could certainly have the intended consequence of “outing” a teenager who is already going through some very tough times. That being said, I understand James’ point intellectually. The argument presented in the op-ed has little depth.
    My way of thinking about this issue is that for many on the right, trans men and trans women are the gays of the current times. We have numerous people on the right (and embarrassingly, a few on the left who use the trans community as some type of boogie man, taking an isolated incident or two and extrapolating it to the entire population. Thus we hear the argument that this is about fairness and the the protection of women. The first point, the fairness argument, is at least something to discuss. There was a case of a trans girl in Texas who wrestled and went 92-0 in her high school career (she actually wanted to wrestle against boys, but the state wouldn’t let her). The safety argument? Does anyone really believe that a teenage trans girl is a physical threat to other girls. Trans women and trans men are at far more risk from others than the reverse.
    I went to a very small high school that did not have football, wresting, track & field, swimming, lacrosse. But what we excelled at was golf and cross country. In our high school almost every year there was a girl who was good enough to play on the boys team, and often they did. Each year there was almost always one or two girls on the boys golf team. This had the effect of taking away a spot or two from the boys (the reverse was not true, a boy would never have been allowed to play on the girls team, if that had been true there would have been no girls team). The general feeling towards the boys who lost out was tough luck, suck it up. That would be my feeling about this issue.
    I live in Maryland where trans women are recognized legally as women. If a trans girl want to play soccer on the girls team than let her play if she’s good enough. To a girl who misses out because she loses a spot, practice more and get better. I played forward in high school in basketball, I would have loved to be a forward for the New York Knicks, but alas, they weren’t looking for a 6’2″ forward who was a good rebounder and defender, but had a mediocre offensive game.

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  9. Jen says:

    I get the feeling that a fair amount of this is being driven by unfounded fears of parents that Buffy won’t get that lacrosse scholarship because that trans girl got on the team, etc. It’s being talked about as an unfair advantage, but honestly, this just cannot be that prevalent. And, even if it is, well, maybe it’s time to get used to it.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @senyordave:

    If a trans girl want to play soccer on the girls team than let her play if she’s good enough. To a girl who misses out because she loses a spot, practice more and get better. I played forward in high school in basketball, I would have loved to be a forward for the New York Knicks, but alas, they weren’t looking for a 6’2″ forward who was a good rebounder and defender, but had a mediocre offensive game.

    But these are apples and oranges. The whole point of a girls’ team is for girls to only have to compete against other girls. Otherwise, unless your school has a future WBNA player, every single spot on the basketball team would go to boys. By creating the categories “boys’ sports” and “girls’ sports,” we naturally have to decide who gets to play on which team.

    The issue of girls taking a slot from boys on their teams is less controversial because it’s so incredibly rare. The only time it’s really an issue is when it’s a gimmick, like the woman’s soccer player being brought in to kick for Vanderbilt even though she was terrible at it.

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  11. Modulo Myself says:

    Otherwise, unless your school has a future WBNA player, every single spot on the basketball team would go to boys. By creating the categories “boys’ sports” and “girls’ sports,” we naturally have to decide who gets to play on which team.

    We don’t have to decide, though. We’re talking about high school sports and maybe a few cases of a transwoman playing basketball or field hockey. Trans people have so little power and you seem to think we need a bunch of laws called Save Women’s Sports From The Trans Menace or something. If there’s an issue it can be solved at a local level on a case-by-case basis without the bigot side of the culture war getting involved.

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    It is an issue. It’s just that it’s so tiny it takes a scanning electron microscope to see its significance.
    That said, Ms. Rapinoe contributed nothing to a solution.

    But if you think this is in any way an example of WaPo wasting ink, let me introduce you to Marc Thiessen and Kathleen Parker, among others.

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  13. KM says:

    The issue of girls taking a slot from boys on their teams is less controversial because it’s so incredibly rare.

    And there’s a caravan of busses of trans teens demanding to play girls’ sports? Let’s be honest @James, it’s just as rare. The controversy is when women try to compete in a men’s only arena it’s seen as her overstepping her bounds and being doomed to fail, standards will be lowered for the “weaker” women to be allowed in. The only threat is the modification of what defenders see as strength in order to allow someone lesser in. See the military for a prime example of that malarkey. However, when AMAB individuals try to join female only areas, it’s seen as a invasion by “fakes” to try and steal something: a sense of safety, privilege or even for mockery. Since it’s going down the social scale, why would they want to do that? It must be for some sort of gain! What are they after?!

    @Jen has it right: this is about parents making sure their precious little angel remains the best and gets into all the good schools because of it. Some fantastic evidence is you don’t see these kind of complaints coming from poorer school districts or places where they know there’s no chance in hell one of their athletes is getting that full ride. Where do you think they give a damn about this: downtown Chicago or Westchester, NY? In other words, “economic anxiety” rears it’s ugly head again, pretending it’s not about hate but “fairness”.

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: “I have no idea how total cases there are.”

    And yet, right there in pixels: “where there have been a whole lot of cases of trans girls dominating girls’ sports.”

    Hyperbole much?

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    I have no opinion on transgender athletes as I have seen essentially zero data. That said, I have no doubt GOPs would propose these bills to fire up the base even if it were proven there were no actual problems. I agree that the Rapinhoe column is bad as it presents no data under a title that implies data. But as to why WAPO published it, they have column inches to fill and clicks to get. They routinely publish absolute crap from prominent conservatives. I feel sorry for any naive print reader who can’t see the immediate, and often humorous, takedown in comments.

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  16. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    But what of the actual concerns that people who are physically boys playing in girls’ sports will tend to dominate girls’ sports, thus upending the entire point of having girls’ sports?

    I was going to say that this is intellectually dishonest and honestly it pissed me off. You are making the argument that Transwomen and men and Transmen are women. And then I realized you were probably doing it without even thinking about it.

    You have to look deeper at what is going on instead of tut tut-ing about this. You have to look at the fact that all of these bills are being promulgated along with bans on allowing Trans kids get the proper medical care they need.

    Are you concerned about the mythological physical superiority of AMAB people? Well, then, you will be absolutely astounded to learn that there is a simple medication that will not only solve these kids depression, suicidal ideation and gender incongruence. It will also have the effect of lessening the medical burden these people will have to go through later. But, REPUBLICANS are making it a crime to give these kids that medication.

    I’m sure you can see why? If we don’t let kids transition and we force them to live as shunned outcasts, maybe, juuuuust maybe, enough will kill themselves and then we won’t have to do it. In any event, they are just freaks and unworthy of life.

    Also, you should dig up the recent article about how Mack Beggs suffered by being forced to wrestle on the girls team.

    Absolutely none of the point of these bills is to “protect women” this is all about making trans people suffer.

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  17. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s just that it’s so tiny it takes a scanning electron microscope to see its significance.

    I think that’s probably right. At the least, we’re taking a sledgehammer to a fly.

    That said, Ms. Rapinoe contributed nothing to a solution.

    Yes.

    But if you think this is in any way an example of WaPo wasting ink, let me introduce you to Marc Thiessen and Kathleen Parker, among others.

    They’re both really solid writers but permanent columnists should probably be term limited to, say, five years. It’s just very rare that they continue having anything new to contribute after that.

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  18. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I would tread cautiously in invoking arguments of the utility of legislation vs frequency of occurrence of the think legislated .

    The same argument, frankly applies to gun violence. What’s bears more weight is social harm of the thing legislation is being enacted to address. If little Becky is good enough to get a scholarship–there aren’t enough trans girls to take EVERY scholarship opportunity away from her. Sure–she can’t goto to East WhiteWonderland State because they gave their last ticket to a Trans kid. That’s where West WhiteWonderland State offers Becky a ticket to play for their school.

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  19. James Joyner says:

    @Beth:

    You are making the argument that Transwomen and men and Transmen are women. And then I realized you were probably doing it without even thinking about it.

    I’m making a subtler argument than that: absent hormone replacement therapy and a significant waiting period (probably a year at the high school level but longer at higher levels) they’re still their biological sex for the purposes of athletic competition.

    Are you concerned about the mythological physical superiority of AMAB people? Well, then, you will be absolutely astounded to learn that there is a simple medication that will not only solve these kids depression, suicidal ideation and gender incongruence. It will also have the effect of lessening the medical burden these people will have to go through later.

    I think that’s the more obvious line of inquiry than blanket bans. I just wish Rapinoe had addressed that instead of pretending there is no advantage otherwise.

    Also, you should dig up the recent article about how Mack Beggs suffered by being forced to wrestle on the girls team.

    Oh, I’m aware. But, again, that means there is an issue, not that it’s a nonissue.

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  20. Beth says:

    Oh, hey, how fortuitous! An article with all the information you want!

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/03/28/transgender-sports-lawmakers-target-girls-playing-high-school-sports/6995760002/

    Oh, hey, look at this:

    “Data from the International Olympic Committee shows greater physical variation among people of one gender and less variation in height and weight between men and women.”

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  21. Modulo Myself says:

    Unless I’m missing something, that lawsuit in Connecticut doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The plaintiffs are all runners, and regardless of who you are competing against your time is your time. Based on that, I don’t understand how you could lose a scholarship based on another athlete’s performance. They know how good you are regardless.

    Overall, I think the scholarship angle is total BS across the board. College coaches have an idea of what talent is. If you’re good, you’re going to get a scholarship.

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  22. I suspect that most of these is fear, not of real transgirls, but of fake transgirls who only claim to “identify as woman” to play in the women’s sport for opportunistic reasons; but I have much doubt that these cases even exist.

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  23. James Joyner says:

    @Beth:

    “Data from the International Olympic Committee shows greater physical variation among people of one gender and less variation in height and weight between men and women.”

    And? I don’t see how that pertains to the argument here. (And I would note that you’ve done more research for your comments here than Rapinoe did for an op-ed that somehow got published in one of our top newspapers.)

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  24. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    But James, you’re not making a “more subtle” argument. Your tell is the use of the term “biological sex”. That term is all part and parcel of the greater argument that Trans people are “REAL” women and men. That we are something gross and deceptive at worse and confused and misguided at best.

    Once you start saying that “oh, well, they are BIOLOGICAL MEN for the purpose of sport.” You are primed to say, “well, they’re not REAL women and you know, maybe we shouldn’t let them use the bathroom.” Or, “well, they’re not REAL women, so they shouldn’t get that scholarship for women, because that’s cheating. And how do we know that they aren’t just men claiming it to steal from REAL women.”

    It’s not a subtle argument because it presupposes that because someone is different, they are lesser.

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  25. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    James, your argument is “[b]ut what of the actual concerns that people who are physically boys playing in girls’ sports will tend to dominate girls’ sports, thus upending the entire point of having girls’ sports?

    The data, which you want, says there is greater physical variance between women then there is between women and men.

    This suggests to me that the data says that Trans kids competing on their proper team is the right way to go.

    And, I have nothing but respect for Ms. Rapinoe, but she’s an ally, this is my life. This is my physical body. This is the cultural programing that I’ve spent years over coming. This is a battle I have to have, and am willing to have with you, because I feel that you are a person of good faith. I have no choice but to fight this battle because there are Trans kids and adults that can’t and I can.

    I don’t want these kids to go through the things I had to.

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  26. Beth says:

    @Miguel Madeira:

    Based on my experience, absolutely ZERO cis boys would pretend to be Trans. Hell, every single Trans person my age tells the same story about how they tried so hard to pretend to be Cis. Shirts vs Skins was horrifying every time I had to take my shirt off.

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  27. senyordave says:

    Apparently, all those states legislating on transgender kids playing sports are doing it for no reason.
    They are doing it for one main reason. Because they can. Trans women and trans men are a group small enough and for want of a better term, different enough, that conservative legislatures can do things that hurt them so they can make their supporters feel better about themselves. Forty years ago they used to do shit like this to homosexuals. They can’t do that anymore, so they found another group to go after. The shame of it is that some people normally associated with progressive causes are joining them, not so much in the US, but in the UK there appears to be an organized group of women going after trans women. Maybe they get more notoriety because J.K. Rowling is among their supporters.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    I suspect if we let trans women play as women and trans men as men for the next decade, we’ll look back and see a grand total of half a dozen instances of trans women outperforming cis women. This strikes me as one of those panics we look back on and wonder WTF everyone was upset about.

    Ms. Rapinoe didn’t make much of a case except indirectly: she is actually a cis woman athlete and therefore among the ‘endangered’ from trans athletes, and yet she doesn’t seem concerned. When a person who might be directly affected DGAF, while hordes of people with no actual dog in the fight are upset, kind of makes you think just maybe we’re dealing with a media-driven, profit-motivated frenzy.

    Now, I am certain that some asshole male will lie about being trans and win in some iteration of women’s sports. And that person will have no chance of getting an athletic scholarship because it will be clear that it’s a stunt and colleges are not going to rush to recruit a provocateur and cheater.
    The same will be true of professional teams.

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  29. James Joyner says:

    @Beth: This is well outside my personal experience but something I’m working to understand. As noted above, at least as far back as 2012, I defended Gabrielle Ludwig’s right to play college basketball as a woman. But the science is pretty clear that biological males making the transition to their identified sex have a rather significant physical advantage for quite some time. Hell, the first of these cases I was aware of, Rene Richards, was pretty good on the women’s tour despite being way over the hill.

    Maybe this is just something that has to be accepted, like the unfairness of LeBron James’ phenomenal physical gifts or Michael Phelps’ advantages. But we don’t have separate sports based on athletic advantages. We do for sex.

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  30. Andy says:

    I don’t really have a strong opinion on this issue.

    But the entire reason that sports are segregated based on biological sex is because sex is a primary factor when it comes to performance in most sports, particularly at competitive and professional levels. In other words, it’s the actual biological differences between men and women that have justified this segregation.

    If we’re going to throw that reasoning out and replace it with gender identity as the discriminator instead of biology then advocates for that position ought to provide coherent arguments to support that change. And if we’re going to use gender, which exists as a spectrum and not as a binary, then why retain the binary sex-based division in sports if we are no longer going to use it to segregate sports? Or if this is intended simply as an exception, then what are the limitations and guidelines for that exception, and are there other exceptions that ought to be considered?

    The arguments on this issue from advocates like Rapinoe don’t really address any of this beyond vague notions of fairness, which also aren’t well-developed arguments. Convincing the public at large, which isn’t steeped in the very-online debates about trans issues, is going to require a lot better effort.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    Marc Thiessen is a cretin, so dumb, so out of touch, that the comments section for his columns are just snark and derision because he doesn’t rise to the level of requiring refutation. He’s the ‘Bill’ or ‘Drew’ of the WaPo.

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  32. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I suspect if we let trans women play as women and trans men as men for the next decade, we’ll look back and see a grand total of half a dozen instances of trans women outperforming cis women. This strikes me as one of those panics we look back on and wonder WTF everyone was upset about.

    We’re likely well past “half a dozen instances” already and I suspect we’ll see a modest wave because awareness has been raised, so kids who are trans will be much more likely to publicly identify as such. Eventually, we’ll figure out what the right answer is for youngish kids doing so and, in particular, what the right point is for hormone therapy and the like. At which point, this will be essentially a non-issue.

    In the meantime, there’s a struggle between the emotional needs of the trans kids and fairness on the field of play. Contrary to some in the comments thread—and Rapinoe’s op-ed—I think there are legitimately people in state legislatures trying to strike that balance. But, yeah, a lot of it is just bigotry and applying a really bad blanket approach to a complicated, limited problem.

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  33. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ah. I’d forgotten who Marc Thiessen was and lumped him in with the dozen or so generic columnists that the Post employs wrote write bland, milquestoast columns echoing banal cocktail party circuit conventional wisdom. But, yeah, I was lampooning him at least as far back as 2009.

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  34. MarkedMan says:

    This is the Republican’s “Gay Marriage”. They are generating fear and hysteria in order to motivate their base, who are often very frightened of things that they don’t understand. That’s a pretty huge issue.

    But James is right. It advances no cause to ignore the real questions people have. By equating such questions with the hysterical ramblings of those who believe Sky Jesus needs to take the demons out of the girly-boys, we drive away people (such as myself) who might already agree with the “right cause” on 99% of the issues, but think this one issue is more complicated.

    (I should make it clear that by “such as myself” I meant “people who have questions on one specific issues” and not someone who could be driven away. People can yell at me all they want but I’m not going to change my view of right an wrong because someone was mean to me on the internet)

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  35. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Rene Richards is a bad example. She transitioned in her 30’s and IIRC was ~ 6’3″ and about 20o# as a woman. It is acknowledged that trans women who conduct their transition after full maturity will retain a fair amount of their male physical abilities. As a tennis player, while she did have some success on the women’s tour, it was mostly notoriety. Her peak weekly ranking was 20th in the world and finished 22nd for that year. I’m not sure she ever advanced to the quarter finals of any major tournament.

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  36. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yes, that’s among the many issues with this debate: the questions and answers are different at different stages of life, states of transition, etc. The extreme positions are 1) a person is the sex they say they are the second they say it and we must not question that fact and 2) a person is their biological sex regardless of how they feel or what steps they have taken to transition. I’m closer to 1 than 2 at this stage but the extreme positions are hard to take seriously.

    Richard Raskind was a damn fine amateur player but he had no shot at the pro circuit. That Rene Richards was damned competitive despite not joining the women’s circuit until her late 30s is telling.

    Similarly, while Veronica Ivy/Rachel McKinnon is right that she isn’t absolutely dominating the women’s cycling circuit, the fact that she won her age group despite rather little experience in the sport after transitioning well into adulthood tells us something.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Eventually, we’ll figure out what the right answer is for youngish kids doing so and, in particular, what the right point is for hormone therapy and the like. At which point, this will be essentially a non-issue.

    There are drugs that can delay the onset of puberty, so trans kids’ bodies won’t develop the gender-specific differences — giving more time before Jennifer née Bob develops an Adam’s apple and broad shoulders or Bob née Jennifer starts growing breasts and wider hips. That lets the kids live without feeling like their body is alien, and means that the eventual transition can be more successful, and means that if Bob née Jennifer is really a confused masculine woman, or a non-binary person named Sock or something, there’s less time pressure to form a plan.

    Republicans claim this is child abuse.

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  38. senyordave says:

    I maintain that anytime a Republican-dominated state passes legislation regarding social issues it has nothing to do with addressing an issue and coming up with a reasonable solution to the problem. That is the last thing they are concerned with. It is all about posturing, figuring out what group(s) they can go after to appease their base, and leaving someone else to clean up their damage.

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  39. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher: Yes. I think the issue of hormone therapy for young kids is complicated, for reasons Jesse Singal lays out, but also agree with him that a complete ban is draconian.

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  40. senyordave says:

    @James Joyner: Richard Raskind was a damn fine amateur player but he had no shot at the pro circuit. That Rene Richards was damned competitive despite not joining the women’s circuit until her late 30s is telling.
    As people pointed out Rene Richards transitioned as an adult, and was tall and powerful. Despite what some people say most sports where strength and height come into play tend to greatly favor men. About twenty years ago when they were still teenagers, but already ranked in the top ten in the world, one of the Williams sisters stated that they could beat any male player outside of the top 200. A German player ranked 203 saw the comment and challenged them. They each played a set against him and he beat them easily. Venus Williams was shocked at how different it was playing him, and she said his first serve was harder than any serve she faced on the women’s tour, and had far more spin.
    If there was some rush of males out there willing to live as women so as to dominate women’s sports maybe this would be a major issue, but for now its just fodder for the right wing.

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  41. Jay L Gischer says:

    Both @Mikey and @KM make excellent points upthread, and I endorse them.

    I wish to address the idea of “fraud” of a boy claiming to be a girl solely to get a competitive edge. This is a thing people worry about, it seems. The thing is, competing as a girl would require that person to assume the identity of a girl 24/7 for at least the duration of the school career.

    If you are not trans, that will be, in fact, unbearable. Yes, everyone can dress in drag for a few hours. But it turns out, representing yourself as a gender which you know in your heart you are not creates a serious psychological burden. It’s that exact burden that drives us to treat trans children and adults. This is what drives them to depression and suicidal thoughts. I doubt if its possible to sustain that AND perform sports at a high level. It’s just too much strain.

    Now, there’s always someone who thinks they are smart and can pull something. But we can deal with this as we deal with other fraudulent cases, such as age falsification.

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  42. R. Dave says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I would tread cautiously in invoking arguments of the utility of legislation vs frequency of occurrence of the think legislated.

    100% agree. In fact, it seems like a particularly terrible argument for trans advocates to make given that their whole movement is based on the idea that unfairness and negative impacts experienced by a small subset of the population justifies substantial, indeed society-wide, changes to existing institutions and cultural practices that work perfectly well for the other 97% of the population. It’s possible to argue that the harm suffered by an individual trans athlete who is required to compete in a gender group they don’t identify with outweighs the harm suffered by the multiple cis athletes they’d compete against if they’re allowed to compete in the gender group they do identify with, but that’s not a numbers-based argument. If anything, the numbers-based argument cuts the other way.

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  43. James Joyner says:

    @senyordave: @Jay L Gischer: I think the fraud issue is easily dealt with if indeed we require people to “live” the sex they claim. Although I’m not exactly sure how one monitors that? Or what it actually means in practice. Women are allowed to wear short hair, dress in “men’s” clothing, and have sex with other women.

    Regardless, I think it’s almost certainly a red herring in real life.

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  44. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @James Joyner:

    There are quite a few that have made the news, although Google returns are dominated by a Connecticut lawsuit and the case of a trans boy being forced against his will to compete with girls, who he’s dominating. I have no idea how total cases there are.

    Perhaps it’s only your perception that “quite a few” have made the news, because the news you consume (even if indirectly in the background) keeps bringing up the same tiny # of cases over and over and over again?

    As others have noted, if you’re going to criticize Rapinoe (justifiably!) for not bringing evidence…you aren’t providing a good example yourself. The actual # of cases is infinitesimal.

    Gay marriage no longer moves the needle, trans bathroom fears fizzled amid backlash, and now HS sports are the refuge of the moral panic brigade. It’s overblown nonsense meant to gin up fear and resentment over a near complete non-issue, nothing else.

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  45. Modulo Myself says:

    In fact, it seems like a particularly terrible argument for trans advocates to make given that their whole movement is based on the idea that unfairness and negative impacts experienced by a small subset of the population justifies substantial, indeed society-wide, changes to existing institutions and cultural practices that work perfectly well for the other 97% of the population.

    These existing institutions and cultural practices are actually terrible, you know? There’s literally a Republican in Congress who happily covered up sexual abuse of student-athletes, and he will be reelected forever. The idea that the main problem for any athlete is going to be the few times they had to play against a trans athlete paints a ridiculously-wrong picture of sports in America. That’s why there are so few athletes complaining. It’s almost all pudgy white dudes who look like Ted Cruz.

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  46. SKI says:

    But these are apples and oranges. The whole point of a girls’ team is for girls to only have to compete against other girls. Otherwise, unless your school has a future WBNA player, every single spot on the basketball team would go to boys. By creating the categories “boys’ sports” and “girls’ sports,” we naturally have to decide who gets to play on which team.

    And we have the fundamental problem with James’ worldview on this issue: he doesn’t accept that a trans girl is a girl.

    If you accept they are in fact a girl, then they do get to play of girls’ teams.

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  47. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Although I’m not exactly sure how one monitors that?

    Not really an issue in high school, which is just one hideously long stretch of everyone monitoring everyone else all the time…

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  48. James Joyner says:

    @SKI:

    And we have the fundamental problem with James’ worldview on this issue: he doesn’t accept that a trans girl is a girl.

    If you accept they are in fact a girl, then they do get to play of girls’ teams.

    I think it’s far more complicated than that. Accepting that someone identifies as a girl doesn’t mean that they’re in all senses a girl. As I noted a couple years back regarding the Caster Semenya controversy,

    We don’t tend to segregate athletic competition on the basis of height, weight, or wingspan. We do segregate men and women because, otherwise, women wouldn’t be able to compete in most sports.

    The problem, which Hesse alludes to, is that this segregation operates on the misconception that there are exactly two sexes. In fact, we now understand that this isn’t the case. But, unless we create more categories for competition, preserving the concept of “women’s sports” requires some process for adjudicating who gets to compete as a woman. Testosterone levels is a rather imperfect way to do this but it’s what we have.
    […]
    Obviously, this is an incredibly emotional issue in addition to a fairness issue. Semenya identifies as a woman and is being told that, for the purposes of competition, she’s not one. That’s incredibly hurtful. It’s probably also infused with bigotry. Strong women have long been told that they “look like men” and are otherwise not feminine. Add in the fact that this has been especially true for black women judged by white standards of beauty and it’s even more upsetting.

    Still, none of that gets us past the fact that we segregate sports based on sex for a reason and that requires classifying athletes based on sex.

    We have far more structure for dealing with the issue at the collegiate, Olympic, and other adult levels of competition and still haven’t fully figured it out. We have essentially no structure in place for youth sports. But I don’t think we should pretend that a biologically male 17-year-old who hasn’t been on blockers or hormones for years doesn’t have an unfair advantage over biological females, regardless of their gender identity.

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  49. SKI says:

    @James Joyner:

    Accepting that someone identifies as a girl doesn’t mean that they’re in all senses a girl.

    Yes. Yes, it does.

    There are lots of different kinds of girls, each and every one is their own kind of girl, but they are all girls.

    As I said, this is the fundamental problem. You don’t want to accept that a trans girl is a girl. Period. Full Stop.

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  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Like voter fraud, this is a problem so limited in scope that it doesn’t deserve attention.
    That is all.

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  51. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    Accepting that someone identifies as a girl doesn’t mean that they’re in all senses a girl.

    Almost no female is “in all senses a girl” just like no male is “in all senses a boy” . Nobody can fit all criteria at all times of their lives so by definition, at some point you are “not male” or “not female” by someone’s reckoning.

    One of JK Rowling’s TERFy BS statements that got called out what something along the lines of “we used to have a specific word for people who menstruate. what was it again?” Soooo…. are you saying if you don’t menstruate you’re not female? What do you call a post-menopausal person, JK? How about someone who’s had cancer or anorexia or any other bodily issue that stops that function?

    Let’s genderflip it – guys, if you lose your manhood, are you still a male? What if you do a DNA test and find out you have Jacob’s syndrome (an extra Y) – since you don’t have the normal XY combo, what are you? In what sense are you a male if you don’t meet the traditional definition of XY? What if you were born intersex and the doctor decided to make you female by removing some extra parts – something that used to happen quite a bit, often without telling the family or person in question. Who decides if you’re a male or female then – the doctor who happened to be in the room?

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  52. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    Accepting that someone identifies as a girl doesn’t mean that they’re in all senses a girl.

    Can you do me a favor and explain that to my menstrual cramps. I transitioned when I was 40 and not having a uterus, it was quite shocking. Aaaaand painful.

    It’s a really weird experience for that to start when you’re in your 40s and you have a slight inkling of what’s going on. It’s also not in the manual they give us when we declare our Trans-ness. Because, surprise, surprise, Cis men have no interest in studying it. It’s painful and threatens their manhood.

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  53. Gustopher says:

    @SKI:

    As I said, this is the fundamental problem. You [Joyner] don’t want to accept that a trans girl is a girl. Period. Full Stop.

    I don’t think that’s the fundamental problem.

    I think the fundamental problem is that he tries to craft clear rules on things that are not at all clear, and that he doesn’t rely enough on empathy and kindness when balancing who gets screwed over.

    Are trans girls real girls? I dunno.

    Should they be allowed to compete in girls’ sports? Yes. Maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s unfair in each particular case, it’s messy and complicated, but where is the harm? (blah blah blah) Is that harm great enough to force us to be cruel and treat trans kids as complete outcasts? No, that’s greater harm to more kids.

    Done. Easy peasy. No deep acceptance of trans girls as girls, or trans boys as boys required.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    the fraud issue is easily addressed, because no school is going to move a millimeter in such a matter without consulting the students parents first.

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  55. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Except, there are people who will continue these games into adulthood, and might be glad their kid is getting a leg up.

    For instance, you would assume that the adult son of a President would not compete in beginner’s tennis tournaments when he is not a beginner.

    https://www.nytimes.com/1991/05/30/style/chronicle-272691.html

    NEIL BUSH was disqualified from a tennis tournament last weekend for playing in a category below his United States Tennis Association ranking, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Bush, the President’s son, and BOB SHOPNECK , his partner, trounced opponents in a doubles match at the Colorado Tennis Association’s Clyde Rogers Memorial Day Open in Denver.

    “Someone officially protested and after a review, he was disqualified,” said the tournament coordinator, HAROLD AARONS.

    And do any of us doubt that Eric Trump would wear a dress and compete in sports if he thought it would get his father to love him half as much as he loves Ivanka?

    But, I think that in general, we should set our expectations higher than the adult sons of Republican Presidents.

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  56. SKI says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t think that’s the fundamental problem.

    I think the fundamental problem is that he tries to craft clear rules on things that are not at all clear, and that he doesn’t rely enough on empathy and kindness when balancing who gets screwed over.

    That is generally a problem for James but in this case, it isn’t the principal issue. See, here, there really is a simple answer. There is a very clear, brightline rule: girls can play girls sports.

    Are trans girls real girls? I dunno.

    I do. They are. Period.

    Should they be allowed to compete in girls’ sports? Yes. Maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s unfair in each particular case, it’s messy and complicated, but where is the harm? (blah blah blah) Is that harm great enough to force us to be cruel and treat trans kids as complete outcasts? No, that’s greater harm to more kids.

    Or, yes, they should because they are girls. Period and simple.

    Done. Easy peasy. No deep acceptance of trans girls as girls, or trans boys as boys required.

    Except it is required – by society if not by individuals. The same way we require acceptance of everyone’s individualism and humanity.

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  57. Teve says:

    @Beth:

    The data, which you want, says there is greater physical variance between women then there is between women and men.

    That can make for very significant population differences at the tails. Take for example height. In the United States the average man and the average woman are only about 5 inches different. Obviously there is greater physical variance within men and women than 5 inches. But out at the tails, for example say the population of people who are 6 foot five, men are going to outnumber women by one or two orders of magnitude.

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  58. Andy says:

    @SKI:

    Yes. Yes, it does.

    There are lots of different kinds of girls, each and every one is their own kind of girl, but they are all girls.

    As I said, this is the fundamental problem. You don’t want to accept that a trans girl is a girl. Period. Full Stop.

    So when a trans woman or man goes to the doctor and a needed drug or treatment regimen has different effects and dosage requirements for biological males vs biological females, what should the doctor do?

    Point being, there is a difference between gender as a social construct and sex as a function of biology and scientific reality. A medical professional can’t ignore the latter aspect in favor of the former. The conflict with sports is similar in that these two aspects of what it means to be male or female collide.

    As previously noted, sex segregation in sports is not premised on gender identity, it’s premised on real performance differences that are based in sexual biology. If one wants to change that and say that biology should not matter for sports and only identity should matter, then that’s a valid PoV. But the assertion that “trans girls are girls” doesn’t do that and doesn’t address the conflict between gender identity and biological sex in sports.

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  59. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: that’s pretty much my take on it.

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  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    I want to widen out just a bit and suggest that as a society we are moving away from rigid binaries – perhaps appropriate in simpler times – to a more detailed, specific approach. We have these things called computers now, which are quite helpful when you need the spreadsheet to have more than two columns.

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  61. SKI says:

    @Andy:

    So when a trans woman or man goes to the doctor and a needed drug or treatment regimen has different effects and dosage requirements for biological males vs biological females, what should the doctor do?

    Treat them. I can assure you that individual humans have very individualistic reactions to various drugs are treatments and a doctors role is to consider those individual characteristics in treating them as an individual.

    Bluntly, you don’t actually know what you are talking about. And yes, I did spend hours last week on updating our SO/GI language for the new HIM system we are implementing to make sure our doctors have the information they need and our patients have the respect they are entitled to.

    There are certain *youth* sports where we do weight by ability – wrestling and boxing comes to mind but I’ve also seen tackle football with weight limits. For the rest, we generally group by sex and tolerate differences in size, strength and skill in the interest of promoting participation and teaching skills. Allowing all girls to participate doesn’t hurt anyone but blocking them does hurt those we prevent.

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  62. JohnMcC says:

    Count me as someone who doesn’t really have a dog in this fight; I’d make the remark that the only real sad outcome from getting the sports/young-women issue wrong is that many women grow up and then grow old and never experience the pleasure of personally doing sporting/athletic things.

    But…. Happened to be scanning around the intertubes and discovered that Masha Gessen has a worthwhile article in theatlantic on the topic:
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-movement-to-exclude-trans-girls-from-sports

    And in that article she links to an earlier article in the AAAS’s Science Magazine that is enlightening related to hormone levels r/t performance (it isn’t as clear as you think, apparently).
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/scientist-racing-discover-how-gender-transitions-alter-athletic-performance-including

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  63. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    @James Joyner:

    I maybe wrong and I hope one of our woman contributors will correct me, but if some guy tried to “fake it” to play on the women’s team, other women, who knew him, would smoke him out in an instant.

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  64. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @SKI:

    I do. They are. Period.

    Enlighten us with this knowledge you have of how YOU KNOW—because saying one isn’t sure and this isn’t that simple– is alot better faith than coming across like a jerk which you seem to have some talent for.

    There are people that KNOW the election was stolen from Trump. I KNOW ain’t going to cut it without stating objective facts.

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  65. flat earth luddite says:

    Apparently, all those states legislating on transgender kids playing sports are doing it for no reason.

    IMO, Dr. J, there are two reasons.
    (1) because it’s a statistically non-existent problem looking for an issue to rile up the base.
    (2) because none of those legislature members’ kids would ever dare put them in this position.
    BONUS – Because (2) gets to bully someone and punish them for the sin of being different.

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  66. Northerner says:

    @KM:

    Secondly, as a female that plays sports I’m finding it really interesting how when the women affected by this speak up to say how it’s not such a big deal, we get ignored. Some of us *have* competed with trans folk during our youth and adulthood and our actual experiences are getting dismissed in favor of ill-defined “facts”. There’s a real strain of sexism in telling a women who’s done the thing in question for decades she doesn’t know she’s talking about but the guy who’s never going to experience it knows better. I’m sure there’s a word for that……

    I don’t know how it is in other sports, but in judo and MMA its almost completely the women competitors complaining about transwomen competing against them, almost no men care at all one way or another. Even Rhonda Rousey was against it, while the MMA organizations themselves had no issues about allowing Fallon Fox (a transwoman) to fight women. Is it sexism if its women who are the ones speaking out against transwomen competing against them?

    I tend to agree that its such a tiny percentage of competitors that it doesn’t matter, but James has it right when he says that as soon as you divide sports into two divisions (whether based on sex or weight or anything else) you have to have a clear rule on how that division is made.

    Maybe its time to get rid of sex based divisions, and go with something else (testosterone based), or just let everyone compete in one big division and let things sort themselves out. Kobe Bryant for instance thought that there were several women good enough to play in the NBA, a very high level of athleticism.

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  67. SKI says:

    @Jim Brown 32: what is your name? It is what it is.

    Does anyone have the right to tell you you are wrong about who you are?

    What is a person’s gender identity? It is what it is.

    Why do you think you have the ability, let alone the right, to tell a person they don’t know who they are?

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  68. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: :This strikes me as one of those panics we look back on and wonder WTF everyone was upset about.”

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. There’s no doubt that comics books — um rock and roll music — um backwards masking — um heavy metal — um Married with Children — um, rap lyrics without warning labels — were going to destroy the youth of America.

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  69. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Marc Thiessen is a cretin, so dumb, so out of touch, that the comments section for his columns are just snark and derision because he doesn’t rise to the level of requiring refutation.”

    Actually, he’s a towering giant of an intellect. As least compared to fellow Post columnist Hugh Hewitt.

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  70. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “We’re likely well past “half a dozen instances” already and I suspect we’ll see a modest wave because awareness has been raised, so kids who are trans will be much more likely to publicly identify as such.”

    You mean in a country of 350 million people, with fifteen million kids in high school, we might already have had six instances across fifty states? Oh, yes, I see why the legislatures in red states are working so furiously to combat this plague. If we see that wave you’re talking about and we quadruple the number of instances, we’re looking at almost one case for every two states.

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  71. Thomm says:

    @Northerner: Fallon Fox has also fractured 2 opponents’ skulls so far. Perhaps true combat sports should be held to a different standard than most…and before the resident fencer here wants to weigh in, I was also a fencer (sabre and epee) prior to my spinal injury, and, no, it is not a combat sports like boxing or MMA where the object is to incapacitate your opponent. The risk of permanent injury or death places them in a different category in my mind.

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  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Thomm: I’m going to note that if the object of the sport is to incapacitate one’s opponent, perhaps people who don’t want to risk serious injury shouldn’t participate at all, and then leave.

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  73. Andy says:

    @SKI:

    Treat them. I can assure you that individual humans have very individualistic reactions to various drugs are treatments and a doctors role is to consider those individual characteristics in treating them as an individual.

    And one of those characteristics is their biological sex, which may or may not be different from their gender identity, and may be highly relevant to their treatment, correct?

    For the rest, we generally group by sex and tolerate differences in size, strength and skill in the interest of promoting participation and teaching skills. Allowing all girls to participate doesn’t hurt anyone but blocking them does hurt those we prevent.

    Yes, we group by sex – which is not the same thing as gender or gender identity. This is the distinction which you keep avoiding.

    Furthermore, no one is blocking girls (trans or cis) from participating in sports – the debate is entirely over which group of people they should compete against when participating in said sports.

    And we haven’t even touched on where gender non-conforming people should compete in a system that uses a binary categorization that doesn’t apply to their gender identity.

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  74. SKI says:

    @Andy:

    And we haven’t even touched on where gender non-conforming people should compete in a system that uses a binary categorization that doesn’t apply to their gender identity.

    You seem to think it may be acceptable to decide to prevent children from participating in youth sports based on their gender identity.

    I think that is morally abhorrent.

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  75. Andy says:

    @SKI:

    You seem to think it may be acceptable to decide to prevent children from participating in youth sports based on their gender identity.

    I suggested nothing of the sort.

    If you ever actually want to know what I think about something, then ask me directly and don’t use the “You seem to think” strawman construct.

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  76. Gustopher says:

    @SKI:

    Are trans girls real girls? I dunno.

    I do. They are. Period.

    I may be much more comfortable with uncertainty than a lot of people. If drawing a bright line helps you, then go for it, but drawing a bright line across a gradient doesn’t change the fact that it is a gradient.

    Sex, gender and orientation are messy, complicated questions that lead to all sorts of messy, complicated answers that will be different depending on who is asking it. But, most of the time, you don’t even need the answers.

    With high school sports you have a group of demonized people who will face greater discrimination from their peers if they compete in one group than the other, and who are being kicked and abused by asshole lawmakers.

    It’s pretty easy to side with them, even without answering the big, complicated, messy questions. It’s just basic kindness.

    Quick, should non-binary folks play on the girls’ sports teams or the boys’? No bright line helps you there, unless you’re willing to start saying “well, actually, there are girls’ sports teams and non-girls’ sports teams…”

    (The answer is that teenage boys are vicious, cruel beasts, and if the non-binary kid is more comfortable on the girls’ team, they should play on the girls’ team)

    Once you get up to the Olympics, you need hard rules, and people are going to be on the wrong side of that, but kid’s sports? High school kids? The only people who care are those who peeked in high school*.

    what is your name? It is what it is.

    Hah! Shows how much you know! I’ve been living under an alias for the past fifteen years. You might say “Well, that alias is your real name now,” but almost every time I tell a childhood story, I am calling myself Gus in it, and it takes a moment to realize that my name was definitely not Gus then.

    My name might be my name now, bit it wasn’t my name then. And yet, when I’m not paying careful attention, I think it was.

    Does anyone have the right to tell you you are wrong about who you are?

    What about the people who say “I’m a good person”? They’re not.

    You’re under no obligation to believe that people are what they say or think they are. Are Evangelicals really Christians in any way that matters? Opinions differ.

    It’s a dick move to point it out, so we generally don’t, but people are wrong about who they think they are all the time.

    What is a person’s gender identity? It is what it is.

    Why do you think you have the ability, let alone the right, to tell a person they don’t know who they are?

    It’s such a fuzzy, fuzzy question, even for the individual, that unless the answer is boring (“we always said he was a boy, and lo and behold, he’s a boy”) there’s going to be a period where they don’t know. Look at the decline in lesbians in Gen Z and the increase in assigned-female-at-birth identifying with non-binary or trans.

    Was there some bizarre change to the species or environment over the past few generations? If not, the numbers should match up, unless some people are taking advantage of options that were basically unheard of forty years ago, and people were just wrong about their gender.

    I’m ok with that. I don’t need to know or understand someone’s gender to try treat them with respect and kindness.

    I also think that Gender Reveal Parties should be held when the kid is 18, rather than right after they are born. Let the kid weigh in.

    —-
    *: As you get to professional sports, or Olympic level “amature” sports, it might make more of a difference as there are a vanishingly small number of people and a whole lot more riding on it. I leave it to someone else to figure out whether Bruce Jenner was a great athlete in men’s sports, or whether Caitlyn Jenner was the single greatest athlete in women’s sports, or whatever.

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  77. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @SKI: This isn’t about me. You asserted that you know something about people (what happen to not be you) after other people were fair to the issue by saying its complicated. And it is–or else no one would be having these conversations. This is an above average intelligent forum where people can be persuaded by facts and reason–so lay it out for us. Because if it can’t be laid out–then intellectual honesty demands we acknowledge we are in a subjective space. No biggie–that’s where most of life is anyway.

    I absolutely have the right to say who I am–just like everybody else and nobody will make me think otherwise about myself. I am seasoned enough to realize, however, that my personal, internal identity DOES have constraints when it collides with the broader society. We live in a world that buckets people by lots of categories–a situation where people seem to be changing physical buckets is a large paradigm shift that will take time. It requires an iron fist that’s velvet gloved. You are here with the iron fist–to allies. Classic liberal.

    For 99.9% of things trangendered folks want to do to navigate society–the science of gender identity is irrelevant. No scientific argument should be made because there isn’t a scientific solution. I learned alot from Beth in the previous forum on this subject. I do not have to believe Beth’s story to support her right to be treated with dignity.

    This is all about culture and who we want to be as a society. We can do better for people than we have been without wasting all our powder on side shows like sports.

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  78. Northerner says:

    @Thomm:

    But it the principle is that transwomen are women, its hard to justify making an exception for sports like MMA and boxing. Similarly, if transwomen aren’t women in the context of those sports, then why are they for other sports?

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  79. Northerner says:

    @Gustopher:

    (The answer is that teenage boys are vicious, cruel beasts, and if the non-binary kid is more comfortable on the girls’ team, they should play on the girls’ team)

    Once you get up to the Olympics, you need hard rules, and people are going to be on the wrong side of that, but kid’s sports? High school kids? The only people who care are those who peeked in high school*.

    Boxing and MMA both are done by high school age students. What is your response to Thomm’s concern about serious injury from allowing say 18 year old transwomen (especially ones who haven’t undergone treatment yet, as seems to be allowed in some jurisdictions) from competing in those?

    I note again that it seems to be largely its the women who compete, rather than men (most of whom don’t seem to care unless they have a daughter involved), who are concerned about this in those sports. And apparently rugby as well.

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  80. Monala says:

    @Gustopher: there’s no decline in the number of lesbians in Gen Z, there’s actually an increase. But it increased less than the number of kids identifying as trans, and some people argued that the latter came at the expense of the former. This ignores that trans kids can be either trans boys or girls, and some trans kids may also be lesbians. Or that the biggest increase wasn’t trans identity at all, it was in Gen Z kids who identify as bisexual.

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  81. Hal_10000 says:

    The WaPo article represents why I have come to dread any transgender issue. This is an issues we have only just begun to discuss. And while I am largely on the “liberal” side, I think “our” side is asserting absolute moral certainty on a series of issues that are much more nebulous than they want to believe (and where they far in the outskirts of public opinion. I mean just look at the comments to Rapinoe’s article from the notoriously liberal WaPo commentariat). Many of the arguments being made right now are poorly reasoned contradictory or at variance with what the cultural left has been saying for decades. But they are presented with the certainty of the law of gravity. Everyone needs to take a step back and let us figure this out.

    (And, yes, I know the Right is bad on this. That’s why emulating them is not a good option.)

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