The Equality Act

What was mere signaling under a Republican Senate and President could now become law.

The Wall Street Journal has published a bizarre op-ed from Inez F. Stepman, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, titled “The Equality Act Makes Women Unequal.” The headline’s provocative claim piqued my interest since I’m skeptical Nancy Pelosi would let such a bill make it to the House floor.

All people are created equal, but Congress is considering a bill that would make some people more equal than others.

Disturbing, if true.

H.R. 5, styled the Equality Act, would redefine “sex” under federal civil-rights laws to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” overriding basic biology along with millennia of tradition.

While an incredibly loaded way of describing what the law would do, it’s technically true.

This isn’t only a question of semantics. Nor is it merely an attempt to prohibit employment discrimination against sexual minorities. A 2020 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court already does that.

The Equality Act would go much further by making it illegal to distinguish “identity” from biology and thereby prioritize transgender people over women. By erasing sex as a distinct legal category, the measure threatens to open up female-only spaces and opportunities designed to increase representation for girls to biological men, which can endanger the safety of women and girls.

So, despite the ridiculously charged language here, I’m actually sympathetic to some of the concerns around erasing distinctions between biological sex and sexual identity. (More on that in a bit.) But the charged language actually hurts the argument, in that it comes across as bigotry rather than pointing to areas where there are legitimate policy issues. And the claims about some people being made more equal than others are still not buttressed.

The Equality Act would threaten the existence of women’s prisons, public-school girls’ locker rooms, and women’s and girls’ sports teams.

Again, to the extent the Act does this, I think we need to tread carefully. There are real issues that we haven’t figured out how to deal with yet. And there are almost certainly areas where professionals have more-or-less solved the problem and the general public (myself quite possibly included) simply need to be educated.

It would limit freedom of speech, freedom of association, accurate data collection, and scientific inquiry. It would threaten the rights of physicians who doubt the wisdom of performing life-changing, reproduction-limiting procedures, and parents who seek to protect their minor children from such treatment.

I’m skeptical of the broadness of these claims. And, indeed, I see nothing in the text of the bill (at least the 2019 version passed by the House) that does anything like these things. The words “parent” and “minor” are completely absent from the law and “child” and its variants are included only with regard to child welfare agencies, human trafficking, and the foster care system.

This isn’t hyperbole. Similar state laws have already resulted in such harm. In California, Catholic hospitals have faced lawsuits for declining to perform life-altering “gender affirmation” surgery in September 2016. In Connecticut, two biologically male athletes won a combined 15 girls state championship races, allegedly taking opportunities for further competition and scholarships from female runners in June 2019. Alaska’s Equal Rights Commission opened an investigation into a women’s shelter after it turned away a biological male in September 2019. H.R. 5 would impose the most extreme form of these laws on the whole country.

It’s not obvious that it would, actually. It’s almost certainly true that women’s shelters would have to take in women, including those who are anatomically male. But it’s not clear that’s not already the case, given recent Supreme Court rulings.

I can’t imagine that all hospitals would be required to perform sexual reassignment surgery, given that specialization is an industry norm. But it is true that Catholic hospitals would lose any special protection since the law, as currently written, explicitly removes protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in cases of the now-broadly-defined discrimination on the basis of sex.

The remainder of Stepman’s article simply reiterates and reinforces concerns about athletic competition and prison segregation. Again, I’m actually sympathetic to those concerns—although I think the latter likely easier to solve.

NPR‘s explainer from yesterday morning, “House To Vote On Equality Act: Here’s What The Law Would Do,” is more balanced but doesn’t really address the more inflammatory charges. The RFRA exclusion is seen as a likely sticking point in the Senate—especially if the filibuster remains in place and thus it requires 60 votes to pass into law.

Aside from being reluctant on practical grounds to require identical treatment for biological females and those with male anatomies who identify as female until we have more experience figuring out how to address the obvious problems, I am troubled on semantic grounds with the bill’s routine insertion of ”sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)” into current law. It seems rather clear that those are three separate categories, each with their own set of issues and concerns, and should simply be listed as separate bases on which discrimination is prohibited absent compelling public interest.

Mostly, though, the law seems to simply codify what is already federal law in practice into statute, making enforcement more uniform across the land. For reasons I don’t fully understand, the Equality Act modifies various pieces of existing legislation, most notably the 1964 Civil Rights Act, rather than serving as a standalone Act. But, like those laws, it will serve as the basis for lawsuits for decades to come. Which means that, whatever the people passing this law think it does, it could well have unintended consequences that won’t be revealed until well after they’re dead.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, US Politics
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. Jon says:

    Man, transphobia really does seem to be taking up a lot of news space of late. I guess folks really don’t want to let go of one of the last ‘respectable’ bigotries. Sullivan and Greenwald are apparently going on about “whether the disappearance of lesbian culture is due to the encouragement which masculine girls receive — from the society, therapists, health care workers, etc. — to identify as trans, not as lesbian women”, the WSJ article cited above, etc.

    Lindsay Ellis has another video on the topic which just came out a couple days ago. She is, as usual, pretty great on the subject.

    10
  2. Barry says:

    James, it’s the Wall Street Journal Editorial page.
    It’s guilty until proven guilty.

    17
  3. Liberal Capitalist says:

    On the other hand, one could say that all laws are flawed.

    There is never a perfect law. If there were, there would not be a need for adjudication of any sort.

    But we do have courts, lawyers and process. If the law is flawed in practice, the outcome can be modified, even overturned based on the Constitution.

    If we can’t pass this law with a D Pres and Congress majority, then it will likely never happen.

    Will there be disruption? Hell yeah, no question. But that seems to be America’s history.

    4
  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Get ready to be slammed Prof J 🙂

    In many ways, I believe the supremes got this right a couple of months ago in choosing not to take up a case on transgender rights, effectively letting communities and lower courts sort out the issues and find solutions. Congress might also consider that approach. Regardless, if (a big if), the House passes this bill again, it will die in the Senate again. Better for the House to spend its time on HR 1

  5. Kathy says:

    Say, how about a law that forbade covering up one’s genital region ever? And a requirement to have one’s 23rd chromosome pair typed, and then tattooed on ones face in day-glo orange in large type.

    It’s the only way to be safe.

    11
  6. Jon says:

    @Kathy: Couldn’t we just dye babies blue or pink immediately after delivery? That makes it easier to determine at a distance.

    6
  7. Kathy says:

    @Jon:

    No compulsory injections of testosterone and estrogen, just to make sure?

    4
  8. gVOR08 says:

    I happened to glance at The American Conservative late yesterday. Whatever iota of distance was left between Dreher and the edge, this and the Gallup poll on sexual identity have driven him over it.

    11
  9. Jon says:

    @Kathy: But if we use hormones to force people to retain their gender, how can we prosecute them for wanting to be themselves later on?

    3
  10. sam says:

    But this,

    In Connecticut, two biologically male athletes won a combined 15 girls state championship races, allegedly taking opportunities for further competition and scholarships from female runners in June 2019.

    does need to be addressed, no?

    6
  11. Jon says:

    @sam: If by “needs to be addressed” you mean “stop referring to ‘biological gender’ and start respecting people for who they are”, then yes.

    6
  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But it is true that Catholic hospitals would lose any special protection since the law, as currently written, explicitly removes protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in cases of the now-broadly-defined discrimination on the basis of sex.

    Good. It’s about time the Catholic Church was stopped from forcing people to abide by their 14th century religious strictures. And if you think a person can just go to a different hospital, let me introduce you to rural America, a place where you get the only option available.

    As far as this goes,

    It would threaten the rights of physicians who doubt the wisdom of performing life-changing, reproduction-limiting procedures, and parents who seek to protect their minor children from such treatment.

    This is blatant fear mongering as it is already well established by the medical community that a minor child should be allowed to live by their gender choice, but no irreversible medical procedures are allowed before they are adults.

    And the whole “women’s prisons, public-school girls’ locker rooms,” is more “we must protect our white wimmen’s” fear mongering. Trans people are subjected to abuse, both physical and emotional, on a daily basis, but I have yet to hear a single instance of the reverse. Besides all of which, none of these issues are insurmountable.

    16
  13. KM says:

    Oh for god’s sake, people need to stop whining about trans folks competing in “women’s sports”. It’s no different than having to compete against someone taller than you or genetic blessed with speed and strength. We are not all equal, even among our own biological classifications. There’s always someone faster or who hits harder. You learn to deal – that’s the whole point of sports strategy is learning how to win despite these limitations.

    I’m female and for a large chunk of my time fencing, I’ve been fencing exclusively again men. Years and years of competing against people bigger than me, stronger than me, older than me, etc – right from training up until COVID shut us down. You know what? I never noticed a difference until I had to compete against students from an all-girls school. I absolutely kicked their asses. Normally I have to deal with a David and Goliath situation (some of them are 6’3′ and HUGE) and suddenly discovered I’d been trained since the very beginning to expect a fiercer opponent. I started on hardcore mode and was a better fencer for it; I had more tools in my kit to deal with unexpected issues and challenges. My teacher made it a point to have myself and the left-handed fencer challenge everyone to at least one bout every time we were in the club so that experience with different types of challengers was normal. The girls in the pool had no such luck and when they went to a open competition got wrecked. Their parents screamed about how unfair it was but I was blunt – if I could do it, they could do it. They weren’t competition grade specifically because they’d been handicapped by never fencing anyone stronger than themselves and couldn’t keep their foils from being knocked out of their hands by a sharp beat. You want to be queen of a small pond? Fine but don’t cry when that means you can’t compete with the minnows of the open ocean.

    Life isn’t fair. If there’s someone in your sport who for whatever reason has a bigger genetic benefit you need to learn to cope. Most women’s sports weren’t started to give women a boost from eliminating “unfairness”; they were created out of sexism and not wanting women in the club with the guys. It’s the same as Womens’ Auxiliary Anything – you can play but not with us. Funny how when they get the chance, some people turn right around and practice the same kind of discrimination they’ve been subject to their whole lives.

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  14. sam says:

    Fine. Now extend that reasoning to boxing.

    7
  15. Kathy says:

    @Jon:

    Could there possibly be any other point to it?

    1
  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    @gVOR08:

    I haven’t read Dreher in awhile–for all the reasons discussed here previously. But I did peak at the post you linked to, and I’m amused at how little self awareness he has left.

    First he posts the gallup results that show, gasp, more people identify as LGBTQ+ now than in the past. He fails to point out that in the very same chart it shows pretty conclusively this has been a trend since WWII (and I’m assuming that’s just when data collection of any sort started.) And the uptick in people positively identifying as LGBTQ+ is pretty close to the number of people who “preferred not to answer” in earlier generations. It’s almost like the people who didn’t feel like they could answer such a question 50 years ago feel like they can answer it now.

    Weird, huh?

    He wrote the following passage with a completely straight face.

    I pointed out that this is what Solzhenitsyn told his followers in the Soviet Union to do when confronted with lies: stand up and walk out. Amazing that the other side is using the same tactics against the church!

    Yes, amazing that these yutes are confronting church lies in ways that have shown to be effective yet peaceful!

    But my favorite:

    The sky really is falling.

    ETA: While breathlessly praying that Senator Manchin holds the line against the fashionably dressed hordes, he seems to forget that the filibuster still exists. Except, Dreher is too smart to not know how legislating works in the Senate. It’s almost like he’s more concerned with hyping a nonexistent danger than being honest in his writing.

    10
  17. Modulo Myself says:

    The majority of people complaining about the trans ‘ideology’ are not involved with any industry other than being bigoted. I mean, point me to a single conservative on fire about children being indoctrinated by this dread ideology who has ever cared, once, about how encouraged eating disorders and body dysmorphia are in young girls. The horror that is supposedly to happening to the bodies of young adults who want to transition is a drop in the bucket compared to the horrors that actually happen due to the way cis women are taught they have to conform. Part of me thinks is that the rise of kids identifying as non-binary is because nobody in their right mind would chose to want to be a cis woman.

    9
  18. Kylopod says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Never does Dreher consider the possibility that more people are identifying as LGBT because more are coming out of the closet as the taboos surrounding their identities crumble. He seems to think that if these identities were legitimate the numbers would stay the same, and that the fact they’re on the rise is proof they’re artificial constructs people are somehow being brainwashed into embracing.

    9
  19. Slugger says:

    Interesting to see the concern that transfolks will damage the world of sports. I guess this means that the previous concern that they were doing this in order to sneak into women’s restrooms is no longer valid. BTW, the US National Women’s soccer team just won 6-0 over Argentina (6-0!!!); let’s ask Megan Rapinoe how she feels about this issue.

    4
  20. KM says:

    @sam:
    I’m curious – if that reasoning was so important or even logical, why isn’t standard in other sports? Why aren’t there weight classes in football and a team can only face off against others in its class? In virtually all other sports, you compete as you are. If you’re shorter or skinny or less muscular then the competition, it means you have something else that makes up for it and got you your spot. Your disadvantage in one area is made up for by your excellence in another. Kickers don’t take tackles because that’s not what they’re there for so who cares if they’re built for it or not?

    Even then, it’s weight class – not a gender class. Can a flyweight trans female compete against a heavyweight cis female and call it even?

    7
  21. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Every time someone writes one of these articles, it is always from the “protect the women!” perspective. What about protecting transwomen who get assigned to all-male prisons? Any idea of how much violence they face? Infuriating.

    12
  22. Jon says:

    Man, people really really do not want to have to give up their transphobia.

    4
  23. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Or the ridiculousness of students like Mack Beggs being forced to compete in girl’s wrestling despite being on testosterone and wanting to compete in boy’s wrestling.

    2
  24. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: This is tangential to the discussion, but if someone is biologically male through puberty and has the muscle and bone development normal to that, then I don’t think they should be allowed to compete in women’s sports as an adult regardless of what they do wrt hormones and surgery post-puberty. I don’t see it as being any different then dosing a biologically female with testerone and growth hormones during puberty and then claiming that because they stopped before they started competing, they should be allowed to compete.

    This is a tough situation and pretending that it is easy and anyone who doesn’t agree must be a bigot is not useful.

    12
  25. Kylopod says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    What about protecting transwomen who get assigned to all-male prisons? Any idea of how much violence they face? Infuriating.

    Most of these people are unable to let go of old myths about transwomen being men engaged in an elaborate hoax (a trope that goes back a long way and is pervasive in pop culture).

    5
  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: That does seem ridiculous. I can’t think of any reason why someone would have an unfair advantage in wrestling by having started out with female physical characteristics. In fact, the opposite is probably true. OTOH, I think females should be allowed in male sports almost without exception, and so of course a male such as Beggs should be allowed.

    Taking it a step farther, I think there are sports where it doesn’t make sense to have separate male and female divisions. And a number of sports could be modified such that men or women would have no physical advantage. Golf comes to mind. Archery. Both of these are structured in such a way that a small advantage can be obtained by raw strength. It seems it would be easy to eliminate that without dramatically changing the game.

    3
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: In the sports that have weight classes such as boxing or wrestling, the differences in bouts at the various weights is extraordinary, almost like watching a different sport. A hundred years or so when I was a boxing fan, I really liked flyweight and featherweight matches, which were about points and tactics and strategy, as opposed to heavy weights, which was about endurance and slugging. The only heavyweight I can remember that had any kind of boxing style that compared to the lower weight classes was Ali, and I suspect that was only in comparison to the lumbering giants he fought against.

    2
  28. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:

    This is a tough situation and pretending that it is easy

    It’s not easy, it’s normal. It’s normal to compete against a diverse group of foes; it’s abnormal to artificially limit it to a select group so you can ensure a specific outcome. There’s a variety of people in this life. I’ve fenced men, women, boys, girls, trans male and trans female folks because my sports isn’t big enough to allow prejudice to exclude people. If we want to have a good session, we need everybody to show up and frankly it’s boring AF to fight the same damn people all the time when you know how it’s going to turn out. Our community actually welcomes trans folk because we need all the fencers we can get and mixed gender is normal in training. This little petite blonde has managed to fell giants and one of my most challenging opponents is a AMAB lady nearly a foot and a half taller than her and packs one hell of a parry. My arm’s a bit sore afterwards but the thrill of victory is worth it. I won because I’m a better technical fencer; she didn’t lose because she was born male and her muscular frame failed her.

    Also, a bit of realism is needed for context here: women can’t avoid competing with men IRL. All that logic about how men have more muscle density and are thus stronger? Yeah, we have to deal with that anyways. Sports help instill life lessons and one of the lessons a female competing with males learns is how to deal with someone strong than you. Learn how to dodge someone bigger? Might save your life someday. Learn how to take a hit from someone stronger and keep going? Learn how to stand up to someone a foot taller, 20 lbs heavier and can do damage to you? Might make all the difference to know what your body can do in that kind of situation. If you only play with those like you, you are going to get wrecked when someone differ comes along… and they WILL. That’s just life. There will always be someone taller, stronger, faster. We do a great disservice to young women by teaching them they can only win by staying on their side of the fence.

    9
  29. dazedandconfused says:

    @Slugger:

    The apparent fear is the damage it could do to women’s sports, and only women’s sports. There is some validity to this as testosterone is a recognized PED. There IS a problem there but societally speaking not a major one, only a small proportion of the population is in high level women’s sports and I believe a fix can be found with a bit of common sense. By far the greatest fear being reflected is that terrible one all us real men share…the ever-present nightmare of standing at a urinal, having a Democrat walk up, hike up his skirts, and start using the one right next to us.

    1
  30. Gustopher says:

    @sam: If carving out an exception for high school sports gets the rest of the act passed, I would be in favor of that. I don’t care about sports, I don’t understand people who do, and the bill has a lot of good stuff in it that has nothing to do with sports.

    But, removing the sports won’t get it the Republican support to pass the filibuster — most of those complaining about that will find some new reason to object because their objections are simply based on bigotry.

    9
  31. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    it’s abnormal to artificially limit it to a select group so you can ensure a specific outcome

    Are you arguing that there should be no men’s and women’s divisions or weight classes in sports? If so, it’s an interesting discussion, but it would be a huge shift.

    5
  32. MarkedMan says:

    Also, eliminating weight classes would essentially change any of the fighting sports. Despite what you see day in and day out on television and the movies, a 120lb boxer, wrestler or martial arts expert at the top of their weight division will not beat a 220lb’er at the top of their division. It’s physics: mass and reach. A full power hit by Joe Frazier on Sugar Ray Leonard would have a very real chance of killing him. A full power hit by Sugar Ray Leonard on Joe Frazier might not even stagger him. Eliminating weight divisions means eliminating lighter weight people from ever hoping to be at the top of their sport.

    5
  33. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Are you arguing that there should be no men’s and women’s divisions or weight classes in sports?

    Let’s keep in mind here that high-level sports (professional and/or scholarship) are entertainment, and their rules are determined by what the audience finds entertaining. There are weight classes in boxing because people are interested in seeing flyweight bouts, not because of any social fairness considerations. There are men’s and women’s professional basketball because people will pay to see both.

    At some point, you either need to accept that the audience is never wrong, or you have to separate the social purposes of sport from the entertainment industry purposes of sport. For the former, we already have age groups and weight classes and such for kids’ sports. Frankly, height-and-weight classes for youth football/hockey/basketball/etc. would make a whole lot more sense than age groups do.

    3
  34. Gustopher says:

    So, despite the ridiculously charged language here, I’m actually sympathetic to some of the concerns around erasing distinctions between biological sex and sexual identity. (More on that in a bit.) But the charged language actually hurts the argument, in that it comes across as bigotry rather than pointing to areas where there are legitimate policy issues.

    This is one of those moments where I risk inverting Cleek’s Law, and just support something because the people who oppose it are so awful and hateful.

    Womens’ sports? There are some issues there, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t care very much either way, and can construct situations where it’s unfair to either chromosomal or non-chromosomal women and men whichever way you categorize transfolk. And don’t get me started on non-binary folk.

    It’s something we would be handling on a case by case basis if there weren’t so many bigots trying to get into the process.

    But, screw the bigots. I know where I stand, and it isn’t with them.

    Treat trans people as their destination gender (ok, I have no idea what adjective to use there) no matter where they are in transition, and if it proves to be a problem, we can adjust the law later. And non-binary folks get to choose.

    Just give these people their rights already, and stop bothering everyone.

    6
  35. Jay L Gischer says:

    As regards bathrooms, my considered opinion is that if someone tries something shady in a woman’s bathroom (does this ever happen?), I am confident that the other women there will be quite glad that my (trans) daughter is there. She’s got their backs. She will not be the one causing problems.

    Ditto for the several other trans women I’ve met.

    And to be clear, I’ve read some stories about goings-on in bathrooms of lesbian bars that are a bit hair-raising, actually. And these are cisgendered lesbians we’re talking about. Of course, these might well be made-up stories, too. How would I know…

    2
  36. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think it is probably accurate to say that exposure to testosterone gives one a developmental advantage in many sports. However, speaking as a small, short male, lots of other specific genetic factors give you advantages (or disadvantages) in sports. Some sports can accommodate these things to some degree (weight classes, for instance). But many do not.

    So I don’t know where to go with this. I do know that I have a trans friend who, once she transitioned, was a lot more interesting in doing sports (she says she thinks she did her best to ignore her body before transitioning), and did some roller derby. She objects to the “panty sniffing” she says is inherent in her leagues policy of demanding certification.

    I haven’t talked to her in a year or so, I’m not sure how this is all working out for her, but it seemed to be going ok. And no, she didn’t immediately become the star performer of the league. In fact, she faced a lot of physical challenges.

    The thing to note, and this is super important, is that if a non-trans person tries to transition, it will make them very unhappy. They will probably not be able to sustain it. Whereas when a trans person starts to transition, it’s like turning on a light bulb, it makes them so much happier with themselves and their life. It’s amazing to behold.

    Witnessing this first hand often changes the mind of, or erases the doubts in the parents of trans children. I sort of wish more people could witness this for themselves, really.

    6
  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    So about 5.6% of Americans identify as some part of LGBTQ. Of that, 11% identify as transgender.

    11% of 5.6 is (according to reliable calculator results) a bit more than half a percent, which, BTW, includes F to M, not just M to F.

    Of that six tenths of one percent of the population, how many do we guess are athletes at the professional level? How many are even high school athletes? Can we find a tinier problem to obsess over? Kind of looks like 99.4% of Americans are not trans. Is there no end to the insecurity of ‘normals?’ Are they not embarrassed to be hiding in terror from this minuscule segment of the population?

    We have 500,000 Americans dead from Covid, FFS, but we’re very concerned that some M to F trans person might become the heavyweight champion of the most corrupt sport on earth. OK.

    19
  38. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:
    No, my argument is we need to acknowledge that sports have artificial, arbitrary rules and constructs as a matter of course. That’s what makes it a sport. People acting like it’s simply natural to have women and men’s version of sports are missing the forests for the trees; we’ve chosen to do these things because we want to see a specific outcome like a longer bout or similar phenotype fighters going at it.

    People need to ask themselves exactly why they think it’s unfair for a male to compete against a women due to strength imbalance but will be fine with women of different strength levels competing due solely to their gender. What’s the source of the unfairness – the strength imbalance or the gender? For instance, if Gina Carano decided to challenge me to a fight is that any less fair than some random dude off the street? She’s a featherweight or lightweight and I’m…. well, let’s go with middleweight and not look at the scale, shall we? I’d have a better chance against random dude and would gladly take that fight. Gina’s gender doesn’t mean she’s not built differently than me and would wreck me in a second. She’s stronger and more muscular but she’s a chick so it’s fair somehow??

    Anyone willing to let KM vs Gina go on but raise a fuss over KM vs Random Male being unfair doesn’t care about biological differences. In a sane world, the division wouldn’t be based on what sex we were born as but rather how hard we can punch.

    4
  39. SKI says:

    @sam: It is being addressed but it is complicated as there is a CT state law that controls. Something the WSJ Editorial Page, as usual, ignored.

    1
  40. Northerner says:

    @KM:

    In terms of sports, as soon as you divide into categories (male/female, or age or weight divisions) you have to come up with clear definitions about who does and doesn’t fit into those categories. Anyone who’s coached will have disputes about an athlete making (or not making) weight (everything from how good the scale is to athletes accused of using banned substances or dangerously dehydrating). And anyone who’s coached youth leagues will have seen the ages of athletes challenged (ie saying that someone is older than claimed).

    By far the simplest way to do it is to remove the non-age categories (no one really wants 8 year olds playing against 16 year olds) and let athletes sort it out among themselves — ie the best will win their way into higher levels. Weight divisions are a fairly recent innovation — all the major combat sports (boxing, wrestling, judo, BJJ, MMA) started without weight divisions, and cynics will say the only reason they were introduced was to allow for more champions (organizations like have championship events).

    In the case of M/F divisions, the categories were introduced for (depending upon who you ask) either historical reasons (women don’t have the same access for training as men) or biological reasons (elite men currently are 10% faster and stronger than elite women). Maybe those divisions aren’t needed anymore? If biological gender shouldn’t be considered in sport, then why use it to divide between Male and Female divisions in the first place? On the other hand, if it is a factor on the actual playing field, then why shouldn’t it be considered in deciding who goes into what division?

    That’s the problem here — its inconsistent to say biological gender is irrelevant in deciding who goes into which category but that it is relevant in the actual playing itself (ie that there’s a biological need for the two divisions).

  41. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Of that six tenths of one percent of the population, how many do we guess are athletes at the professional level? How many are even high school athletes? Can we find a tinier problem to obsess over?

    The presence of people with male endowments is having an outsized impact on girls’ sports.

    At the adult level, there are some issues but they’re relatively minor. Governing bodies can and do require adherence to strict protocols that limit most of the advantages. Even there, though, we can see a handful of gender non-conforming athletes dominating select sports.

    At the high school and below level, though, it’s a different kettle of fish. The rules basically let anyone who wants to compete as a girl simply declare themselves a girl. One would imagine social pressures would mitigate against too many shenanigans but we’re seeing it on a scale that’s much higher than the population percentages would suggest. And the impact is that biological girls are not only being displaced from teams, displaced from the winner’s circle, but also denied the ensuing follow-on benefits of participation and winning. I think that’s a solvable problem but it’s really one would should have figured out before making a blanket rule.

    9
  42. James Joyner says:

    @KM: @Northerner: My post from a couple years ago, “Caster Semenya and the Limits of Binary Gender,” rounded up a lot of good commentary on the complexities of the issue.

  43. charon says:

    https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2021/2/24/biden-admin-withdraws-feds-support-anti-trans-lawsuit

    President Joe Biden’s administration has withdrawn the federal government’s support for a lawsuit that seeks to keep transgender girls and women from participating in school sports for females.

    The Department of Justice withdrew a “statement of interest” that William Barr, attorney general under Donald Trump, had submitted in a case in Connecticut. The parents of three cisgender girls had filed suit last year against several school districts and a state regulatory body in an effort to bar trans girls from competition.

    1
  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:
    @DrDaveT:

    Let’s keep in mind here that high-level sports (professional and/or scholarship) are entertainment, and their rules are determined by what the audience finds entertaining.

    Cue the lions.

    3
  45. Northerner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    As I mentioned, a lot of old-timers and/or cynics will say the only reason weight divisions were introduced into judo, BJJ, and MMA was to have more champions (ie get more participation or sell more tickets). In fact, in judo and BJJ old-timers will say part of learning them involved learning how to deal with bigger opponents — adding weight divisions was not only artificial but actually harmful to them as both sports and as martial arts (ie part of sport is learning how to deal with larger or faster or stronger opponents).

    Bigger competitors will have an advantage, but that’s how life works. Some people are far more gifted in music or math or speaking or writing, but we manage without making special categories for say untalented musicians (that would be me, as much as I love to play). Why make special categories for sport?

  46. James Joyner says:

    @Northerner:

    Some people are far more gifted in music or math or speaking or writing, but we manage without making special categories for say untalented musicians (that would be me, as much as I love to play). Why make special categories for sport?

    We have all manner of categories. Schools have math tournaments for each grade level. There are all manner of divisions for the performing arts, whether based on age group, amateur status, how long one has been at it, etc. Even school-based competitions have various vocal parts (alto, tenor, baritone, etc.) compete only against one another. We tend to want to encourage competition.

    At the professional level, absent women’s sports, we would be denied Serena Williams. She’s arguably the greatest individual sport athlete of all time. Even at her peak, though, she was never a top 200 tennis player in the world.

    7
  47. dazedandconfused says:

    @Northerner:
    The divisions make it more fun for the competitors. The notion that sports is all about entertaining others is a false one.

    5
  48. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    For instance, if Gina Carano decided to challenge me to a fight is that any less fair than some random dude off the street?

    I’m not sure how this is even relevant. We are not talking about random people off the street or even a highly talented stuntman. We are talking about people who train to be the very best at a highly specific variety of a highly specific sport, one that is defined to the nth detail by the divisions, classes and rules. At the highest level these people give up almost everything else in their lives to devote it to the exacting perfection of the sport they participate in. There’s a reason that there are something like twenty different Olympic sports involving skis and only the most closely related ones find athletes participating across events.

    You might not think sports are that important, or that these rules are stupid and arbitrary and should be easily trained. But surely you can understand how the people who have devoted their whole lives to perfecting their skills within the incredible tight confines of these rules might view such an assertion?

    1
  49. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I also wanted to point out that these trans kids are NOT “boys who announce they are girls to walk onto the girls’ track team.” They are trans people who live their entire lives as their true gender – including navigating the hallways of high school as someone that all of their fellow students know was born Fred but who is now Sarah.

    Seriously – just think for a minute about how incredibly difficult life is as a middle schooler or high schooler when there is *anything* about you that can mark you as different. And then make it something as utterly fundamental as gender.

    I challenge everyone to think of a single cisgender teenage boy they have ever met who would be willing to spend their entire high school life actively living as a girl in the hopes that they might someday get a free ride as a Division I track star.

    16
  50. Kurtz says:

    I followed a link to a tweet this morning and clicked on a couple different people to see what else they were saying. I happened upon a couple threads about this.

    I noted a couple phrases being repeated. “Female-only spaces” was the one repeated the most. Whenever I see this, my first reaction is to wonder which pundit or politician used the phrase. Then I read this post.

    I also noticed that once any challenge was raised, the person would just use the same phrases again. No thoughtful defense of the traditional concept of sex; no answer to atypical sex chromosomes; no discussion of hormones. Just repitition.

    I checked and they appear to be actual people. I also recalled a Reddit thread started by a poster angry that one of the bot detectors had flagged his Twitter account as a bot. I have no doubt that redditor has a body that contains flesh and blood. I have no doubt the discussion on Twitter today was an engagement between people with bodies that contain flesh and blood.

    Zombies are a popular horror trope. I suppose it’s possible the brain-feeding kind could happen via some sort of biological infection like a lancet fluke does to ants. But my concern is that we are already in a world being overrun by a certain kind p-zombie.

  51. KM says:

    @MarkedMan :

    You might not think sports are that important

    Really? I talk about my lifelong personal experiences as a woman in sports on this thread and how trans folks have factored into it and “I don’t think sports are important”? I’m the damn person we’re talking about, you know. I was the young woman in sports who faced off against trans males and still freaking do. We are talking about my life experiences trying to perfect my skills incredible tight confines of these rules so perhaps you might view my assertions with a little more care. Or is it because I’m not a professional it doesn’t count? I may not be an Olympian but I’m sure I have more experience with this topic than you do.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have classes. I’m telling you that trans folks participating in sports isn’t as big a deal as everyone is making it to be. I’m saying that as one of the people this post is talking about that if you didn’t know someone was trans, you would just think they were just another opponent that happens to be a bit stronger than you and freaking adapt. This is one of those things that gets blown WAY out of proportion and maybe we should talk to the athletes in question, not their parents or other people who want to weigh in on it. Who’s actually complaining here, anyways – the young people or the “concerned adults” who aren’t the ones doing the sport? Who’s calling it unfair – the athletes or the armchair experts?

    7
  52. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    We have lots of tiny problems like what to do about M to F trans athletes.

    Or we could look at some big gender issues like the fact that men commit 96% of all murders. I mean, what are we going to do about men? Because it sure looks like we are the problem. Maybe solve that problem first, and worry about trans athletes much later?

    3
  53. Teve says:

    Parker Molloy had an interesting take.

    So, I read Marjorie Taylor Greene’s deranged rant in opposition to the Equality Act, and aside from the “but women’s sports!” red herring that’s it’s built on, one line stood out:

    “Biological women cannot compete against biological men. Biological little girls cannot compete against biological little boys. And they shouldn’t have to.”

    I assume that when someone refers to “little girls” and “little boys” they’re referring to actual children, right?
    And even if I were to grant that the premise of her argument was correct (which I don’t), she’s making the argument that boys and girls who haven’t yet gone through puberty are… significantly different athletically?
    It’s one thing to argue that someone who has gone through a testosterone-driven puberty will have an advantage in some sports versus someone who went through an estrogen-driven puberty. Both versions have their own changes, some permanent and irreversible and others not.
    But once you start talking about “little girls” and “little boys,” you’re making clear that you’re not actually worried about athletic differences. A very big mask-off moment for her.
    Do you know how many times the word “sports” appears in the Equality Act? Or “athletics,” “athlete,” “competition,” or hell, even the word “school” appear in the Equality Act?

    ZERO.
    For years, the right have opposed this type of legislation by using nonsense about bathrooms. Over the years, it became clear that wasn’t a winning argument for them. So instead they’ve started shifting more and more to sports.
    8 years ago, I wrote a piece for Rolling Stone about efforts to repeal a California law that had been passed to explicitly protect trans kids from discrimination.

    The arguments were the same. “But sports!!!” “This will end women’s sports!!!” “Scholarships!!!” “What if someone just decides one day to identify one way and then different the next!!!”
    The repeal effort failed. The law remained in effect. And… nothing happened. All the scaremongering about slippery slopes turned out to be baseless nonsense, as happens to be the case whenever some sort of LGBTQ protections are implemented anywhere.
    (see: fearmongering that marriage equality would lead to people marrying horses, stoking fear about gay people or trans people in the military, etc.)

    None of it ever pans out. The Equality Act is no different.
    If this bill becomes law, it would only reinforce existing law per the SCOTUS Bostock decision from last year.

    No, women’s sports won’t be taken over by trans women. No, bathrooms wouldn’t become some sort of free-for-all. Yes, churches would still have protections.
    A lot of the arguing comes down to something something something balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections something something.

    But that balance exists in the law already.
    The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act enacted in the 90s already clarifies that concerns about religious practice should be weighed heavily. No additional carve-outs are needed.
    The argument against the Equality Act isn’t an argument over legitimate concerns. The argument, as evidenced by watching people on the right freak out because more gen z people are IDing as LGBTQ than previous generations, is against existence.
    Sports leagues can, will, and should continue to set rules for participation/qualification when it comes to trans people. And if sports was actually what they were concerned about here, that’s what they’d focus on.

    But they just don’t want LGBTQ people to exist in public life.
    They see a growing number of people IDing as LGBTQ as a problem that needs to be addressed. That’s eliminationist logic.

    Look at how Rand Paul berated Dr. Rachel Levine during her confirmation hearing today. Look at how difficult guys like him try to make it just to exist.
    This is all the Equality Act does: it clarifies in law that LGBTQ people shouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, or health care.
    It adds those categories alongside race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability. That’s all.
    This is one of those things where the public has been clear. When told what that bill *actually does*, there’s broad bipartisan support for it. That’s why its opponents cling to misinformation and a laser focus on sports and whatnot.

    6
  54. MarkedMan says:

    @Northerner: I’ll defer to your knowledge at the professional level, but weight divisions have been a thing for a long time. At certain schools it was expected that everyone (males of course) would participate in the “manly arts” of boxing, wrestling and perhaps fencing. The purpose was to instill a sense of healthy competition. But as I stated above, there is no meaningful competition in boxing or wrestling between a 120 pounder and a 220 pounder. Sure a skilled 120 pounder could take a generic 220 pounder but once fitness, training and effort was applied, there just wouldn’t be competition.

  55. Nightcrawler says:

    Pass it. Over the past 4 years, Republicans have proven that once they wrest back power, they’re going to use it to strip protections from as many people as they possibly can. The only way to prevent this is to tie their hands.

    And thanks to voter suppression efforts, these lunatics may very well wrest back power in 2024.

    Pass it. I don’t care what the long-term effects are. I care about preventing Republicans from literally bringing about an extinction-level event in four years. Anything, anything at all that can throw monkey wrenches into their efforts is something we need to do.

    Let future generations sort the long-term effects. That’s what ends up happening anyway, with all laws, not just this one.

    6
  56. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Or we could look at some big gender issues like the fact that men commit 96% of all murders. I mean, what are we going to do about men? Because it sure looks like we are the problem. Maybe solve that problem first, and worry about trans athletes much later?

    What percentage of men commit murders? If its under say 10% I’d argue that the problem isn’t men as a group but of those individuals. You’re committing the same error that so many white supremacists use (and I’m aware you’re not one of those) — if a tiny percentage of a group is still the statistically most common perpetrator of a crime, then all of that group have a tendency to do that crime.

    Agree that the issue of transgenders in sport is tiny. In terms of people I know, its mainly female athletes who area concerned about it (possibly quite unnecessarily, I don’t think any of ones worried about it have ever competed against a trans

    2
  57. Nightcrawler says:

    Addendum: I don’t think the U.S. is even going to exist in 20 years, at least not in its current form, so it doesn’t matter what the long-term effects of this law are.

    If you’ve got terminal cancer that’s going to kill you within a year, does it matter if you smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish, and gorge yourself on bad food during that time?

  58. James Joyner says:

    @Teve:

    Or “athletics,” “athlete,” “competition,” or hell, even the word “school” appear in the Equality Act?

    This is just a silly diversion. As she notes, there’s a whole section on Education. It would certainly modify Title IX, accelerating these trends.

    1
  59. ptfe says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Almost beggars belief why anyone physically presenting as F would want to transition to M to join us.

    Seriously, though, the only arguments people come up with against this are the extreme corner cases of very specific sports. We’re debating whether we can overall improve the lives of millions of adults and children (yup, 0.5% of 300M is a big number!) because one of the U-18s in that group turns out to be a good runner? I’ll bet we can solve that “problem” in a different way and help everyone else out.

    8
  60. MarkedMan says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I agree that, especially at the high school level, the incidence of cis-gendered guys posing as trans girls is vanishingly small and probably not worth worrying about.* My concern is from the other end of that. Given that there are trans girls, and that some percentage of them are going to play sports, do they derive a benefit in their sport above and beyond that which a cis-gendered girl has? Some would say, “yes, but that doesn’t matter”, to which I would ask, “should cis-gendered girls be allowed to take the same levels of hormones during puberty that trans gendered ones experience?”, and if not, why not?

    *Asshole guy teenagers loudly declaring they are girls and demanding to be on the team as a work of perfomative asshole-ery, is much more possible but fortunately educators and coaches are used to dealing with teenaged assholes.

    4
  61. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m not arguing that this is the biggest issue out there. I’m saying we should be thoughtful about obvious problems the law would create before passing it. That there are bigger problems out there doesn’t mean we should create new ones, even if they’re relatively small.

    4
  62. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    I’m the damn person we’re talking about, you know

    I’m still not getting your point. If I read your posts correctly, you compete in fencing against men and … there shouldn’t be any gender specific sport divisions? That there should, but that the only thing that matters in defining those divisions is the mental part of being female, not the physical part?

    Ok, now that I wrote that out, I can see that you most likely mean the second one. Is that right?

  63. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    The presence of people with male endowments is having an outsized impact on girls’ sports.

    Um, what exactly do you think Trans women with penises are going to do? Pole vault over their competitors? Extra tennis racket? AH HA! Fencing saber, worst kind ever.

    The whole sports thing is a red herring scam that the RWNJs use to scare people like you. You know what the real Trans Agenda is? Not to get FUCKING MURDERED. That’s it.

    Oh, and by the way, since it’s a bunch of Cis people discussing us, Hi, I’m Beth, Trans radical, back on my soap box. Couple of points:

    1. The whole Catholic hospitals thing is a flat lie. No Trans person wants to get operated on at a place that hates us. I’m going to Northwestern to get Facial Surgery, do you think I want some fundamentalist jackhammering off my face? No thanks. What this is about is Catholic (and other religious hosiptals) want the right to refuse service to us based solely on being Trans. Get hit by a bus? Too bad, find a different hospital. Have the flu? Please die. The point is not to force doctors to do things we don’t want them to do, its to ensure that we suffer and die as painfully as possible.

    2. Because James brought this up, I am no less a woman because I have a penis. For example, would any of you kind cis gentlemen automatically become a woman if, by chance, you lost your penis in an industrial accident? Get shot in the groin and have it turned into hamburger by a bullet? No, you would not, because a having a penis is not what makes you a man.

    3. The whole experimental treament/life altering medical interventions crap is just that, crap. Transphobes want us to suffer and die. Period, end of story. Puberty blockers are well researched and used in lots of other contexts. We have a pretty good idea of what hormones do and do not do. You know what we need more research on? Things like, why do some Trans Women, get menstrual cramps while other’s done. I don’t have a uterus, but I have wonderful cramps that hurt like hell and make me feel loved by my body. We don’t know why this is.

    4. On the whole other endowments issue, bleh. A month after taking estrogen I could barely lift my arms over my head. Cis males, even you old guys, have no idea how much unearned bonus strength you have. I’m sure that for select group of Trans people that tiny bit of testosterone we have in us gives them something, but it’s not much. Being taller really doesn’t do anything either. Also, this could be almost entirely avoided if kids were given access to proper healthcare so that they could transition as teenagers and not get any of the so called “endowments”. But, again, the point of this is to force us to suffer and die.

    5. The reason you’re seeing such an “increase” of trans people is that many of us decided that we’d rather fight than suffer and die.

    16
  64. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Northerner:

    Quick look at the numbers:

    151,800,000 men in the US (2010 US Census)
    6,972,000 men* arrested** for homocide (2012 FBI crime stats)
    88.7% of arrests are men.
    4.59% of total male population arrested for homicide.

    ——
    * Total males. I couldn’t find a quick “males over 16” stat.
    ** Recorded numbers are on arrest only, not convictions or (of course) murders committed without an arrest.

  65. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I would ask, “should cis-gendered girls be allowed to take the same levels of hormones during puberty that trans gendered ones experience?”, and if not, why not

    Are any of them asking to do that? Is that a common thing or are you proposing something you would think is “fair”? As for why not, you can’t just take hormones without messing up your system so if there’s no medical reason to do so, it’s a no.

    Again, as a cis-gendered girl, this was not a thing that crossed my mind. Ever. I can’t say 100% certain but I’m fairly certain that’s not something that would have occurred to any of the young women at the all-girls school at the competition either. It might occur to the *adults* but again, it’s because they want their kids to win over that person, not because the athlete in question wants or needs it.

  66. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @MarkedMan: That is a good question. Standard treatment for trans youth has evolved into encouraging them to live as their determined gender, but to delay hormone replacement therapy until they are no longer a minor and have the legal capacity to opt in. In the case I linked to earlier, of the teenage wrestler forced to compete in girl’s wresting in Texas, the only reason he was on testosterone in his senior year was because he turned 18 while in high school. So it really is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction.

    And definitely something should be able to be addressed as the one-off it is, rather than holding up necessary protections for so many others.

    3
  67. Beth says:

    @KM:

    As for why not, you can’t just take hormones without messing up your system so if there’s no medical reason to do so, it’s a no.

    I’m pretty sure that if you gave a Cis person cross gender hormones they would off themselves in very short order. I’m talking less than a week before they’d be so crazed they couldn’t function. For me, getting estrogen in my body was GODSEND. It took me three days and blammo, I felt normal. Pretty much for the first time in my life. I was 40.

    9
  68. Northerner says:

    @James Joyner:

    That makes an excellent case for keeping women’s divisions, but it simultaneously makes the case for stringent criteria on who is allowed in that division. That’s (as your earlier article nicely said) is the problem.

  69. SKI says:

    @James Joyner:

    At the high school and below level, though, it’s a different kettle of fish. The rules basically let anyone who wants to compete as a girl simply declare themselves a girl.

    Not really. They have to *actually live their life as a girl*.

    One would imagine social pressures would mitigate against too many shenanigans but we’re seeing it on a scale that’s much higher than the population percentages would suggest.

    Are we? Two runners in CT is all that has been specifically identified in this thread. Do you have any links or data supporting your belief?

    And the impact is that biological girls are not only being displaced from teams, displaced from the winner’s circle, but also denied the ensuing follow-on benefits of participation and winning. I think that’s a solvable problem but it’s really one would should have figured out before making a blanket rule.

    Is it a problem? I don’t think it has been established as one. It is a scare tactic, sure, but is it a problem?

    I haven’t seen anything so far that indicates it is anywhere remotely close to the problem that refusing to treat people as their appropriate gender is.

    4
  70. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Damn lack of edit function. Saw your other reply too late.

    You are correct – I mean the second one. I’m not opposed to having gender divisions in sports (means I can compete in more tournaments!) but rather for people making physical assumptions based on said genders or said divisions. Most folks in sports wouldn’t know if their opponent was trans unless explicitly informed of it due to uniforms and such. There’s such diversity in sports now that a tall or built girl could be someone trans or just a cis girl ahead on her growth spurt. Nobody seems to be making a fuss about AFAB men in sports being too weak to participate effectively because it’s not a thing. They somehow manage to keep up and it’s not a controversy; it’s only the reverse that seems to freak people out and claim unfairness.

    Also, apologies if I’m coming across as snippy. This is one of those things I tend to take personally as I know several fantastic fencers this affects deeply. I’ve seen them face bigotry and gotten pissed on their behalf.

    4
  71. MarkedMan says:

    @ptfe:

    We’re debating whether we can overall improve the lives of millions of adults and children (yup, 0.5% of 300M is a big number!) because one of the U-18s in that group turns out to be a good runner? I’ll bet we can solve that “problem” in a different way and help everyone else out.

    Well said. Just to be clear, I’m focusing on the rare corner cases. It’s just the way my mind works and has been trained. But I acknowledge they are corner cases and I am in no way thinking they are a reason to stop the overall legislation.

    And before you judge me too harshly for focusing on corner cases, it’s a real advantage in designing medical devices. Constantly looking for the exceptions to the rule is what keeps those ventilators and hear monitors running 24/7/365

    3
  72. Northerner says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Fair enough. That’s certainly true in MMA and boxing because of striking (weight divisions have only been in MMA for a couple of decades though). I’m probably biased because of my size wrt judo and BJJ, but many smaller older instructors (who competed in the pre-weight divisions days of one or the other) claim they preferred the open weight divisions (possibly nostalgia at work, or just that some of the old timers were extremely tough old birds).

    And almost everyone trains (often quite seriously) with people of all sizes, and most seem to enjoy it.

  73. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Northerner:

    What percentage of men commit murders? If its under say 10% I’d argue that the problem isn’t men as a group but of those individuals.

    I think after many years – and by many years I mean about 10,000 years – in which one sex commits all the violent crime, it’s fair to look at the group. Sure, most men don’t commit violent crimes, but most men are part of a group dynamic that makes those crimes possible. Most cops don’t choke people to death, either, but when the other cops stand around watching one can suspect that it’s not simply that one bad actor, but something in the training, the selection, the mentality of the larger set that makes the minority able to do bad things.

    And it’s not just the crimes committed, but the ever-present threat of violence that men represent. If I walk into a biker bar (as I have on occasion) it probably won’t be all the bikers who give thought to beating the shit out of me, but that’s not really reassuring, is it?

    In virtually every marriage, even the best, there is still the inescapable reality that husbands can beat, terrorize, rape and murder wives, not the other way around. We’re bigger and stronger and more aggressive, not just as individuals, but as a class.

    If you walk down a street at night and see three women walking toward you, are you worried? No. If it’s three men? Yes. We are, jointly and severally, threatening, to each other, and more still to women.

    4
  74. Northerner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Weight divisions are old in wrestling and boxing (over a century anyway, which is several generations even if its not old compared to the age of the sports — see Ancient Greeks etc). They’re fairly new to judo, BJJ and MMA (there are still people alive who competed pre-weight divisions in all of those).

    Once you get to elite levels weight is a massive (no pun intended) factor in any combat sport, but so are a number of other factors that can’t easily be altered (everything from percentage of fast twitch fibres to limits on coordination and reflexes). There were a couple of 170 pound winners of the All-Japan judo competition (no weight divisions — and the average competitor was in the fit 250 pound range), but they were of legendary ability. Even in boxing, Roy Jones Jr was able to go up several weight divisions to win a minor heavyweight title, but of course Floyd Mayweather would have no chance of doing the same despite his skills.

    But elite competition is there to find out who’s the best, and size is part of that. For non-elite competition size is less important, because the skill level isn’t uniformly high (ie every elite heavy weight has excellent skill, that isn’t true at lower levels of competition).

    1
  75. EddieInCA says:

    @DrDaveT:

    There are men’s and women’s professional basketball because people will pay to see both.

    I take a slight exception to this sentence because it doesn’t tell the full story. Women’s leagues are constantly started and all ultimately fail because of a lack of attendance and revenue. Women’s pro soccer leagues, lacrosse leagues, fastpitch leagues, and Hockey leagues have failed numerous times. If not for the subsidies of the NBA, the WNBA would not survive. The market for women’s pro sports just isn’t there yet in the USA.

    Some European and South American women’s soccer leagues seem to be doing quite well, though.

    5
  76. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Going by Mu’s numbers, its under 5% of men who commit murder (assuming everyone arrested is actually guilty) and that’s in America, which has a much higher than average murder rate for a variety of reasons. Are you really open to generalizing about a whole population because of 5%?

    It strikes the engineer in me as simply a very incorrect conclusion from the available statistics (did you know for instance that the 95% rate — in this case 95% of men will never commit murder — is a standard limit in statistical tests because it suggests only outliers are breaking the pattern).

    In terms of biker bars, they’re not a random collection of men, but men who are self selected into one location. Using that as a model of male violence is much like using the height of an NBA club as a model of how tall men are. There’s a whole science behind statistical sampling for just that reason.

    Its quite possible that in a few years they’ll have isolated genes that lead to aggressive behavior (so that say 95% of people — clearly mainly men — who have that gene become murderers). At that point you could make a statistical case for saying those men are dangerous (whether you’d really want to give the gov’t the right to gather that genetic information is a different issue of course, I wouldn’t). But at this point, saying everyone in a group is implicated in what 5% of them do is odd — and as I said, that’s exactly what the white supremacists try to argue wrt Black crime. A very small percentage of Black men are involved in crime, but the supremacists try to argue that that small percentage is representative of the whole.

    On an only partially related note, I think schools should teach statistics instead of (or at least in addition to) algebra.

    It strikes the engineer in me as simply bad statistics. If

  77. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth:

    The whole Catholic hospitals thing is a flat lie

    Catholic hospitals are a real problem, and it’s certainly not limited to trans issues. They can literally chose to let a woman with a fetus die rather than perform a lifesaving abortion. And states can and do negotiate with regional hospitals to divide up territory (not for monopoly purposes but to ensure coverage) resulting in public hospitals closing down and their patients diverted to a Catholic institution.

    7
  78. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And actually if I’m walking at home at night and run across three men or three women coming my way I’m equally unconcerned. Possibly because I live in Canada where violent crime is fairly rare in most areas. If violence was linked to the Y-chromosome as you suggest where I live should be irrelevant, as the Y-chromosome would still be there.

    4
  79. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “Whatever iota of distance was left between Dreher and the edge, this and the Gallup poll on sexual identity have driven him over it.”

    Dreher’s causus belli have been LGQBT… issues. Always has been, always will be. He’s expressed horror over the insurrection, and some of Trump’s behavior, but in the end that’s what keeps him on the Trump side.

    1
  80. DrDaveT says:

    @Northerner:

    Some people are far more gifted in music or math or speaking or writing, but we manage without making special categories for say untalented musicians (that would be me, as much as I love to play). Why make special categories for sport?

    As someone who used to play rec-league volleyball regularly, I have to laugh at the idea that we don’t already do this. The difference between the different graded rec leagues was self-sorting by ability, period — nothing to do with age or size, and (in some places) nothing to do with gender.

    The purpose of non-elite sports is the fun of competition. Competition is only fun when talent levels are approximately equal. That’s why recreational athletics naturally sorts itself into talent tiers whenever participation is open to anyone. The purpose of elite sports is utterly different, and it would be silly to impose the rules appropriate for elite sport onto everyone else.

    4
  81. Jen says:

    Catholic hospitals are an enormous issue and problem. As @MarkedMan points out, even on the issue of an abortion that would save the life of the mother (say, like the one Sen. Santorum’s wife had), the hospital can decline to perform the life-saving procedure. Add to that refusing to perform medically advised hysterectomies, the systematic refusal to treat trans patients, and refusal of some Catholic doctors to even prescribe birth control pills, and you have a medical facility that is acting not on behalf of its patients, but on behalf of the Church.

    This is a real and growing problem, especially in areas (like New Hampshire) where there has been a fair amount of hospital consolidation. In rural areas it’s an enormous problem when there’s only ONE option.

    I’m tired of “but what IF…” arguments. Pass the law, treat people equally.

    5
  82. dazedandconfused says:

    @Northerner:

    Yes but training and competition aren’t the same things. I suggest checking out the video of the 100 meter race mentioned in the OP, which the transgender won by a wide margin and broke a 24 year old meet record. Watch the competitor’s faces when they look at him/her after the race. Having fun? No.

    This is a tiny, highly specialized subset of the population, I believe the question of whether this HAS to be allowed or we are doomed to being a trans-phobic society a false dilemma. For competitive women’s sports I say no Y chromos allowed. Period.

    3
  83. Mimai says:

    One of the problems with these discussions is the variable language. Oftentimes, this is due to ignorance, but far too often it is due to malicious obfuscation. To be sure, I’m not leveling that at anyone here. Still though, I cringe every time I see the phrase “biological gender.”

    3
  84. James Joyner says:

    @Beth:

    Um, what exactly do you think Trans women with penises are going to do?

    At the sub-collegiate level, at least, we’re talking about people who have not transitioned in any way. They’re not on hormone replacement therapy. They have all the advantages of male athletes.

    It’s more or less a red herring in adult sports for the reasons you state, although there is some movement against the measures to ensure unfair competitive advantage, mostly on the grounds that they’re intrusive or degrading.

    2
  85. DrDaveT says:

    Let me come at this from a different angle for a minute.

    When women finally got (partial) access to employment in the general economy, the cadre of intelligent and capable women who would formerly have become teachers or nurses — the only professions available to them in past times — instead moved into more lucrative and respected roles in business, academia, industry, etc. The effect on the teaching and nursing professions was profound. Quality dropped, the reputation of the profession fell, critical shortages of qualified personnel harmed both education and medicine nationally. Frankly, neither field has fully recovered.

    Does that mean it was a bad thing that women were admitted into the general workforce? I mean, we’re talking about negative social consequences far beyond any hypothetical impact on female athletes or bathroom etiquette. Seems to me that if we were willing to endure that blow in the name of equality, and would do it again, then this one is a no-brainer. If you really believe in equality.

    6
  86. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Beth: Im not a male because I have a penis or facial hair…but because I have XY chromosomes that will never change. Females obviously have an XY and of course there are fringe cases of XXY, XXX.

    I am sensitive to the physical danger Trans people face and by all means existing legislation should be used and or strengthened to punish anyone threatening the life, limbs, or ability to make a living of trans citizens.

    What I cant do is throw the science part of sex completely out the door when its inconvenient. That’s what conservatives do. Gender? Sure, completely cultural and human invented. People want to lives as something other than what their chromosomes say…not my business or battle.

    But where interactions occur between people and the science portion of Sex is a factor…it should be considered and factored in appropriate. Most of these are going to be fringe issues…but a fringe issue to one is another’s life.

    Sports are probably not important to most political junkies but an exponential amount of people eat, sleep, and breathe it. Its their life.. and they vote.

    Admittedly, I don’t track Trans issues but what gap on existing legislation or problems does this Act solve? If its similar to hate crime legislation…then it doesn’t and only serves as a signaling and wedge issue for politicians to fire up their bases up around their support or rejection of.

    5
  87. Mimai says:

    @DrDaveT: “When women finally got (partial) access to employment in the general economy, the cadre of intelligent and capable women who would formerly have become teachers or nurses — the only professions available to them in past times — instead moved into more lucrative and respected roles in business, academia, industry, etc. The effect on the teaching and nursing professions was profound. Quality dropped, the reputation of the profession fell, critical shortages of qualified personnel harmed both education and medicine nationally. Frankly, neither field has fully recovered.”

    The gist of this seems intuitive, but I’m not familiar with the research (if any) on it. Can you point me in the right direction?

  88. EddieInCA says:

    @KM:

    Track
    Woman’s Record, 100 Meters: 10.49
    High School Boy’s Record, 100 Meter: 10.00

    Woman’s Record, 100 Meters: 21.34
    High School Boy’s Record, 100 Meter: 20.09

    Swimming
    Woman’s Record, 50 Free: 23.67
    High School Boy’s Record, 50 Free: 19.20

    Woman’s Record, 200IM : 2:06.12
    High School Boy’s Record, 200IM: 1:41.39

    Weightlifting
    Woman’s Squat Record: 530lbs
    High school Boy’s Squat Record: 638lbs.

    There is no way a woman, trans or not, can be competitive against men in sports where it’s about strength or speed. Artistic sports like diving, gymnastics, skating are different animals, but the different in athleticism is striking.

    If you were to fence against a 6-8 man, with a 7 foot arm span, with even a bit athleticism, you’d never score a point. If the fencer kept his arm straight out at all times, and kept you in front of him, there is no way you could reach him.

    3
  89. SKI says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Admittedly, I don’t track Trans issues but what gap on existing legislation or problems does this Act solve? If its similar to hate crime legislation…then it doesn’t and only serves as a signaling and wedge issue for politicians to fire up their bases up around their support or rejection of.

    Spoken as someone who admits having no clue about how people are currently being negatively impacted.

    Think of it like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – something combating existing and very real discrimination that is hurting people.

    3
  90. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @SKI: Everyone has no clue about something important to someone else….so we all belong to that club–including you.

    Unless I missed something…it is legal to kill or discriminate against a trans person? Because if that is true I would have expected fixing that to be a major portion of the last 2 Democratic Presidents platform.

    1
  91. SKI says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Unless I missed something…it is legal to kill or discriminate against a trans person? Because if that is true I would have expected fixing that to be a major portion of the last 2 Democratic Presidents platform.

    It has been.

    While SCOTUS has held in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Title VII of the Civil rights ACt protects transgendered individuals in employment rights cases, there are no specific statutes at the national level protecting trans people and the expansion of civil rights protections to them has been… spotty.

    The Obama Administration issued executive orders protecting them by stating it was US policy and the opinion of the Administration that they were covered under the existing protection of “sex” in the civil rights laws. The Trump Administration overruled those protections and protected discrimination in some cases as a “religious liberty” – including in receiving healthcare.

    So, yes, you missed some things.

    6
  92. Teve says:
  93. Jen says:

    @Mimai: Agreed, I’d like to see some data on this. While I’ve heard this anecdotally, I just did a quick search and saw the following:

    * Until 1850, the vast majority of teachers were men, because frankly most students were male–educating females was extremely limited and generally relegated to the upper classes.

    * Nursing didn’t even crack the top ten occupations for women in 1920

    I do know that when women come to dominate in a profession, wages tend to go down. Computer programming used to be considered “clerical” work, and was dominated by women; it was only when men entered the field and it began to change that salaries skyrocketed and women were subsequently edged out.

    1
  94. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    I hear that.

    1
  95. Modulo Myself says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I was a big competitive swimmer and those times are way way off there. Boys 200 IM is SCY–short course yards. Women IM is LCM–long course meters, which is way longer than a SCY. The comparative IM time for high school girls is off by 12 seconds at 1:53:82, still a lot but not quite so much.

    And this at the elite level. I was a good swimmer, but not elite, and at practice, I occasionally used to have swim with girls a couple years younger who were thinking of the Olympics, and they were like monsters who the coaches set loose on the more lazy male swimmers–aka me–to force us to go all out 24/7 in practice. And one these swimmers, in the end, barely cracked the top 20 in the US Olympic trials. She was elite, but not that elite.

    And overall there are many cis girls who can outswim cis guys at the same age. The idea that in normal high school sports there would be a huge reason for a guy who does a 56 in the 100 free to declare himself a girl and then does not compute to me as a former athlete. It just is not going to happen except in freak situations.

    2
  96. KM says:

    @EddieInCA :
    6’8″? No, we don’t have one of those. 6’4 or 5? Yep and kick his ass about 50-50% of the time. That’s a 15 pt bout, by the way meaning I hit him 15 times in 3 min to win. That giant reach? His arm’s target area. In fact, I specialize in disabling hand touches because I fence men bigger than myself and that’s the closest thing to me. I will also go for thigh and arm but if I’m feeling like a jerk I close distance and get right up in there. He’s FAR more atheltic than me – being an EMT and all. ‘I wasn’t kidding when I used David and Goliath as an metaphor earlier. Epee is glorious in that everything is target area (anywhere you can bleed) and I don’t have to stab you in the heart to win. The face mask, though? A nice jump lunge to nail him in the face mask is always worth the shock value. Nice little short, slow me gets literally up in his giant face for the win!

    Thanks for the condescension, though. Nice to know I violate physics and statistics so regularly.

    This is what I mean when I say people are blowing this out of proportion. You all act like it’s impossible for a woman to take down or compete fairly a man- it’s really, really not. We’re doing it all over the world, every day. It’s harder, needs more effort and skill but can be done. Yes, they have the statistical advantage but things like sports and martial arts are designed to not only challenge your equal but your physical better and have a chance tosucceed. How else would sports work if the little guy never stood a chance against the big one?

    8
  97. Teve says:

    I do know that when women come to dominate in a profession, wages tend to go down. Computer programming used to be considered “clerical” work, and was dominated by women; it was only when men entered the field and it began to change that salaries skyrocketed and women were subsequently edged out.

    The amazing thing to me is that you have douchebros in Silicon Valley who think that women don’t make good coders. When I hear that I want to get a big thick biography of Grace Hopper and smack them hard in the temple.

    5
  98. Michael Cain says:

    @EddieInCA:

    If you were to fence against a 6-8 man, with a 7 foot arm span, with even a bit athleticism, you’d never score a point. If the fencer kept his arm straight out at all times, and kept you in front of him, there is no way you could reach him.

    I’ve watched women with superior accuracy, footwork, and tactics out-fence a man a foot taller then they were. I’ve had my butt handed to me by a sixth-grade girl that I had eight inches on. A 6-8 man with a bit of athleticism and no experience against an A-rated woman? He’ll score touches if she decides to let him.

    4
  99. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    At the sub-collegiate level, at least, we’re talking about people who have not transitioned in any way. They’re not on hormone replacement therapy. They have all the advantages of male athletes.

    There is a solution for this, you know? The greater point that Trans people are fighting for is that Trans kids should be able to experince a proper puberty. Given blockers and age approprate hormone therapy and this wouldn’t be a problem at all. With the added benefit of Trans women being (generally) shorter, with less facial hair to burn off later in life and my current problem, less vocal cord changes.

    What the greater anti-trans movment (and I don’t mean you or really anyone here) is trying to do is make things so hard on Trans kids, make the suffer, make them hurt and maybe they won’t go away.

    The issue is, here I will include you, is that greater society cannot imagine what it’s like to be Trans. You don’t have to think of your sex or gender at all. It never comes up, period. To imagine your body as being so markedly wrong that you would need extraordinary measures to fix it is incomprensible. That’s why the Europeans make it so hard to Transition. They figure that if they make it so hard, then most people will go away. They don’t.

    Simply, if you want to erase any percived advantage by highschool kids, let them have the proper medical care.

    Also, degrading to who? There are ZERO cis boys who are pretending to be girls. I will stand by that 100%.

    7
  100. EddieInCA says:

    @KM:

    Thanks for the condescension, though. Nice to know I violate physics and statistics so regularly.

    Wrong. I gave a specific example. 6-8 with a 7 foot span. Ask any basketball player if there is a difference between 6-5 and 6-8 with the same skill set. Yes. There is.

    1
  101. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @SKI: Fair enough. In that way…its not like the Hate Crimes legislation at all.

    Im not at all comfortable with peoples rights to live and earn a living being subject to the whims of the sitting Executive and more specific clarification is warranted. Im not sure why they wouldn’t be covered under Sex and Sexual Orientation….but the fact that they was a SC challenge shows that discriminators are willing to find a loophole.

    Thanks.

    4
  102. EddieInCA says:

    @Beth:

    Also, degrading to who? There are ZERO cis boys who are pretending to be girls. I will stand by that 100%.

    Agreed. This line of thought reminds me too much of the people who way that gay kids “choose to be gay.”

    5
  103. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32: It is not illegal to discriminate against a trans person in some circumstances, more so in some states than in others.

    For example, there are all kinds of unjust reasons someone can be fired. When I tell people that it is not illegal for someone to fire me because they thought it would be funny, they don’t believe me. They point out that there are all kinds of lawsuits that are filed for things like that. First – I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Most of those civil lawsuits I’ve heard about say they were fired because of race, religion or gender. But second, and more importantly, they are most often successful because the companies violated their own policies, not because there was an actual law.

    4
  104. Beth says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    What I cant do is throw the science part of sex completely out the door when its inconvenient. That’s what conservatives do. Gender? Sure, completely cultural and human invented. People want to lives as something other than what their chromosomes say…not my business or battle.

    You have to remember, biology is not physics, it makes mistakes. It does wierd things. It tries to turn everything into a crab. It is not as cut and dried as saying, “oh, your XX, so you’re a girl, over and done.” It’s way more complicated than that. If it was as simple as XX ALWAYS means female and XY ALWAYS means may, Trans people wouldn’t exist. We simply couldn’t.

    There are also intersex people who may be XX or XY and have the genitals of the opposite of what they should be. Biology is weird and complicated.

    Admittedly, I don’t track Trans issues but what gap on existing legislation or problems does this Act solve? If its similar to hate crime legislation…then it doesn’t and only serves as a signaling and wedge issue for politicians to fire up their bases up around their support or rejection of.

    In most jurisdictions it was entirely legal to fire someone for being Trans until last year.

    In most jurisdictions it is entirely legal to refuse housing to or evict Trans people for being Trans.

    In many jurisdictions it is entirely legal for Dr’s. to refuse medical service to Trans people on the basis of being Trans. I’m not talking about gender affirming surgeries, I’m talking normal every day stuff. We can be refused access to our life saving medications. We are frequently harrassed and ignored by EMTs. Trans people have been left to die in the street because the EMTs were too busy laughing at her with the cops.

    We are routinely ignored by the police when we are harmed and then harrassed in death by journalists using our deadnames.

    We can have our kids taken away from us in divorces, simply because we are Trans.

    I could probably come up with a longer list, but this is depressing enough.

    8
  105. Beth says:

    @KM:

    This is what I mean when I say people are blowing this out of proportion. You all act like it’s impossible for a woman to take down or compete fairly a man- it’s really, really not. We’re doing it all over the world, every day. It’s harder, needs more effort and skill but can be done. Yes, they have the statistical advantage but things like sports and martial arts are designed to not only challenge your equal but your physical better and have a chance tosucceed. How else would sports work if the little guy never stood a chance against the big one?

    You are giving me LIFE. Seriously, you are my absolute favorite person today. Thank you.

    8
  106. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Just to add to what I wrote above, here’s what the ACLU says

    Employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act from discriminating on the basis of sex. Some courts have ruled that Title VII also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Supreme Court recently announced it will take up this question in three cases. In addition, many states and cities have laws that ban this kind of discrimination.

    [IANAL] So basically the federal prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity rests on lower courts interpretation of the word “sex” in the Civil Rights act. The argument against is that Congress did not intend to extend those protections or they would have explicitly done so, and the Supreme Court agrees there is at least some merit in that argument. So passing the law would remove doubt as to the 1964 Congress’ intent.

    4
  107. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    who think women don’t make good coders

    … and there are days like today when I am certain that people don’t make good coders

    5
  108. KM says:

    @EddieInCA:
    And I’m telling you in your specific example you are dead wrong because you clearly don’t understand the sport. If said man was stupid enough to keep his arm straight all the damn time, I’d pick him off easily without even exerting myself and his coach would be screaming at him for the sidelines. Point in line (which is what you are describing) is a bad idea since

    (a) in foil and saber, all it takes is a quick beat to steal right of way and then get in the hit. Right of way gets you the point so even if he tries to retaliate, I got there first so my win. You have to take back right of way, dude. Depending on being bigger and sticking your arm out farther isn’t how the rules work. He’s even more screwed if my second or third intention anticipates his possible reposte and since he’s out of position, it’s harder for him to react fast enough to take it back. The tip of the blade for point of line’s in a bad recover position if you knock them off course…. which every damn person will do.

    (b) in epee, that’s valid target area right there unprotected. Is he offering me free points? Thanks! These few inches means he’s even closer so I have less distance to cross. Why would he be threating me with point of line in epee anyways? That’s newbie stuff you get disabused of very quickly. Cover your hand and bend your damn arm so it’s behind the bell guard!!

    Soo….. pick another example, please. In a sport you are familiar with. In fencing, size and strength doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think. My coach is smaller then I am and regularly takes the c-ranked giant out.

    8
  109. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Teve: I would agree with caveats. The body is a system of systems so its incredibly complex by default. Depending how one defines sex or gender…the base level is pretty cut and dried. The subsequent layers which drive human interaction are where the complexity begins.

    Personally, I don’t think any of that is relevant from the perspective of political leaders and law enforcement ensuring people for whom these things aren’t the normal experience can live and pursue happiness and make a living.

    I think people make it complicated in order to avoid doing what conflicts with their religious perspectives.

    4
  110. Beth says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Agreed. This line of thought reminds me too much of the people who way that gay kids “choose to be gay.”

    Oh, I tried so so so so freaking hard to be a cis male. I really did. To the point that I gave myself PTSD and suicidal ideation. I spent years in a dissociated state, that I don’t remember, actual years have been wiped from my brain. Wiped is wrong, they were never recorded at all. All in a valiant, but pointless, effort to be cis. God I wanted to be normal soo bad.

    I had a friend in highschool (we’re still friends) who was a cis male. I spent years being jealous of him because he always seemed to know what to do. He knew what to wear, he knew how to think, he understood his own existance without thinking about it. I’ve spent a long time being jealous of that.

    A few weeks ago I realized that I’m not jealous any more because I understand my own existance without having to think about it. I medically transitioned 2 years ago this month and legally one year ago next month. I understand my own body, my clothes, my life in a way I never had. Because now I’m normal. Well, the fundies, the TERFS and the bigots would disagree. I’m also a poorly socialized woman because of the torture I put myself through, but I’m working through that. Imagine being 4o and having menstrual cramps for the first time. Teenagehood is embarassing and weird for a reason.

    5
  111. Northerner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If its any comfort, its very likely that in a decade or two very few people will be coding — most of it will be done by AI. Hopefully we’ll still be doing high level design (though that might be wishful thinking).

    1
  112. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan: Cleary you have been watching over my shoulder as I fail miserably all day 😉

    3
  113. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth:

    You have to remember, biology is not physics, it makes mistakes. It does wierd things. It tries to turn everything into a crab. It is not as cut and dried as saying, “oh, your XX, so you’re a girl, over and done.”

    At the risk of putting words into Jim’s mouth, I think what he was trying to say is that the science doesn’t matter in this case. If someone says they are female, then they are. Whether there is “science” that backs them up or not is immaterial. That’s the way I feel. It’s the same with homosexuality. Nature vs. nurture, choice versus truth, I never understood why that mattered. I don’t see why the law gets to take such reasons into account. What is the overriding societal need that allows discrimination? Wait, there is none? Then the reasons someone is gay or transgender or anything else doesn’t enter into it.

    4
  114. Beth says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I saw that when he commented further. But, I do think the point should be made that simply saying XX or XY, even a biology setting isn’t the end of the line. Oh edit, I should also say that the “base layers” are less cut and dry than the comment suggests. Again, because if it was, Trans people wouldn’t exist. Also, we don’t understand the base layer at all. Bits and pieces maybe, but not all of it.

    1
  115. KM says:

    @Beth:
    *fistbump* I got you. It’s soooo aggravating to see otherwise intelligent folks fall prey to this kind of thinking. It really is buried deep in our culture. Biological differences exist but they’re not final or world-shattering as people believe. It’s not like there’s plenty of history or real-world examples created daily to prove it; nope, only the strongest can prevail and that ain’t dainty little us! Hang in there 🙂

    @Michael Cain:
    Now here’s someone who gets it! Not an A-rank (although god willing!) but yeah, fencing was a female-acceptable sport in high society for a reason. Women can and do kick ass with swords because it takes more then physical blessings like strength to do it right.

    Honestly, being taken down by a small child is embarrassing but it happens. I lost once to a curly haired little 8 year I mistakenly took pity on. Thought I let them get a pity point or two so no tears. Lost 3 pt in a 5 super quick and didn’t have time to recover. Last time I fall for the cutesy act! Never underestimate the little guy – that’s usually when they shank you.

    5
  116. Bill says:

    Women have always had more rights than men, they can accuse men of violence (with no proof ) and they’re believed over the man. They can try to do a man’s job and aren’t berated for it, even if they suck at it. And anyone who’s ever been married knows that you can’t win an argument with your wife….and expect to get laid.
    I could go on but it’s happy hour.

  117. Kylopod says:

    @Bill: I like the old Bill better.

    8
  118. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Beth: Thank you for educating me to these legal injustices. I had no idea that people really take it to that level.

    As for biology, nature does random variation everywhere. I suppose in the microcosm we could call it mistakes but in the macrocosm…its all part of the journey of this version of homo sapiens.

    I wish you well with your journey.

    5
  119. Mimai says:

    @KM:

    It’s soooo aggravating to see otherwise intelligent folks fall prey to this kind of thinking. It really is buried deep in our culture.

    Indeed. It’s also buried deep in our biology, in as much as the brain prefers simplicity over complexity.

    1
  120. Mimai says:

    @Mimai: Block quote fail.

    1
  121. ptfe says:

    @EddieInCA: This line of thought reminds me too much of the people who way that gay kids “choose to be gay.”

    I somehow resisted the “come be gay with us!” posters through high school, and I will probably not be swayed by the “let’s all be Trans!” ads of today, but let me tell you…both super tempting choices for a hetero cis guy!

    What the anti-Trans movement wants is for Trans women to go back to the closet and dress like women in private and for Trans men to just pretend to be women when they’re out and about. That way we can be like “see, it’s a guy” even if she’s screaming inside.

    F that. We waste so much mental energy satisfying these idiots.

    Making this about sports is just a bunch of concern trolling. These are people who would be 100% fine being bigots if they wouldn’t be marked for it, so instead they pick at the little scab that more people can relate to: your child’s sports are imperiled! (Personal experience with this: our badging office changed regs so employees could declare their gender; given the opportunity to comment [or not] I heard at least one person declare that we would have “fruitcakes” in the office because of it. That asshole was supervised by the first woman who took advantage of the change, and she treated him with more decency than he deserved.)

    This is the latest version of declaring that gay marriage will destroy straight marriage, because saying, “You may find yourself working with a woman who identified as a man for the first 14 years of their life!” just doesn’t have that sense of impending doom. Since most of us do actually try to be decent people, we’d like to think this is some sort of good-faith argument, but it’s bigotry getting a hearing.

    6
  122. DrDaveT says:

    @Mimai: I don’t have any key references to hand; this was considered “common knowledge” when I was in college in the 80s. Common knowledge can be wrong, but I haven’t heard any debunking stories either.

    Here’s an example of a paper that is at least partly relevant to the question.

  123. Gustopher says:

    So, despite the ridiculously charged language here, I’m actually sympathetic to some of the concerns around erasing distinctions between biological sex and sexual identity.

    Just want to dig into the words “biological sex” here. It’s being used as a shorthand for a set of sex chromosomes or naughty bits, but since we don’t know what causes transgender folks to be transgender or non-binary, we cannot rule out a biological reason*.

    So, a transgender woman’s biological gender may well be female, even she was assigned male at birth. We don’t know, and it’s a little weird to pretend that we do.

    —-
    *: Even with the increase in reported numbers on surveys — that may well be just an increase in acceptance and willingness to identify, rather than an increase in actual numbers that would suggest an environmental reason linked to modern life.

    6
  124. Mimai says:

    @DrDaveT: Thanks, I didn’t mean to give you an assignment. Re common knowledge, I suspected as much but didn’t want to ignore relevant literature.

  125. DrDaveT says:

    @Mimai:

    Thanks, I didn’t mean to give you an assignment.

    Asking me to back up my pontificating with actual data is always appropriate. 🙂

    Part of it is anecdotal — my mother was a teacher from ~1960 to ~1990 and watched the profession evolve. There are a lot of confounding factors there, though.

    1
  126. Mimai says:

    @DrDaveT: Ha! I’m new here, don’t know the players well, and didn’t want to be “that guy” (if you know what I mean). I swim in data much of the day, so this is one of my default ways to understand things…..have to remind myself (ie, get reminded by others) that data ain’t everything or the only thing.

    3
  127. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: @Beth: Yes, the science of why is irrelevant in 99% of cases. In the fringe cases like sports where biological science comes into play…they should be considered as A factor and not THE factor. And since sports, as important as they are aren’t life, death, and livelihood…reasonable accommodation can and should be made.

    Sports are a terrific tool that provides an opportunity for kids to learn dedication, how to compete. And how to win and lose…competencies we want all our neighbors to have.

    1
  128. Mu Yixiao says:

    It’s “old-people night” at the wine bar, so this is going to be a drive-by posting.

    Bullet points (This is my perspective, I’m not saying it’s fact):

    Sex/gender/etc.
    * Male/Female is biological. It’s a matter of chromosomes and physical structures. Yes, there are edge cases–and we should understand and incorporate them–but they’re edge. Bringing them into the discussion is the same as the uptight person saying “But this one boy pretended to be a girl”.
    * Man/Woman is a mix of biology and identity. A person can transition (I’ve never liked that word, it seems too clinical) to “the other side”. A person with XX chromosomes can be a man. Absolutely. Surgery can make the body match the identity, but it’s not required. But there are biological differences that are manifested by hormones–whether naturally produced or administered. We need to acknowledge this (though not make it a big deal).
    * Masculine/Feminine are entirely social constructs–and there’s more gray area than black or white.

    Sports
    I’m not much into sports, but my understanding is that there are those in which male/female is an important distinction, but they’re a minority. The three female runners (too lazy to look up their names) who are challenging the testosterone limits are an interesting case in this debate. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other, I just find it an interesting question.

    Beth
    You’ve made some strong assertions about medical care. Can you provide some citations to support those assertions?

    For example:
    * I’m pretty sure any doctor who refuses emergency care because a patient is trans would lose their license*. Can you point to any cases where a doctor at a Catholic hospital refused emergency care and was not punished for it? Has it happened at secular hospitals?
    * A doctor (and, by extension, hospital) is may refuse care if such care is outside their area of knowledge. Abortions and gender re-assignment surgery are specialized skills. I’m betting that there are a lot of non-religious hospitals that don’t have someone on staff who can competently provide those services. Are you suggesting that every hospital be required by law to hire someone skilled in every possible area of specialty?

    I believe that “people are people”. The only time sex or gender matter to me is if I’m dating someone–and then it’s just a matter of my personal preferences**. Ignoring of the pearl-clutching and breast-beating, I do think that there is room for debate in some areas, and we need to find a common ground and a middle ground that are fair and compassionate.
    ———
    * Everything I’ve read places very strict limits on when care can be refused, and emergency situations are the strictest.

    ** I prefer female women who fall somewhere in the middle of the masculine/feminine spectrum (a ballet dancer who knows how to use a chain saw is hot).

    2
  129. steve says:

    “* A doctor (and, by extension, hospital) is may refuse care if such care is outside their area of knowledge. Abortions and gender re-assignment surgery are specialized skills. I’m betting that there are a lot of non-religious hospitals that don’t have someone on staff who can competently provide those services. Are you suggesting that every hospital be required by law to hire someone skilled in every possible area of specialty?”

    Much of sex change surgery is highly specialized but parts of it can be done by people w/o subspecialization. For example if you are going female to male, pretty much any GYN doc can do the hysterectomy. As far as emergency care goes I know of no exceptions that would be made and a physician would be subject to penalties if they refused to care for a trans person because they were trans in a true emergency. Would get hazy if the emergency involved the site of the complex, specialist only surgery.

    Steve

    2
  130. Jen says:

    @Mu Yixiao: There are loads of cases of trans people refused medical care.

    Tyra Hunter is a well-known case.

    The U.S. Transgender survey outlines additional data on this point.

    It’s rampant.

    2
  131. Mimai says:

    @Jen: Sorry, I missed your previous response. Thanks for the links.

    1
  132. Teve says:
  133. Beth says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/07/09/feature-the-dangers-of-trans-broken-arm-syndrome/

    https://www.teenhealthcare.org/blog/what-surprised-me-about-transitioning-health-care-becomes-difficult/

    https://www.dailydot.com/irl/trans-broken-arm-syndrome-healthcare/

    https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/6/21/18692924/trump-transphobia-health-care-discrimination-protections

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320223182_Trans_broken_arm_Health_care_stories_from_transgender_people_in_rural_areas

    The last one is a pdf. In pertinent part:

    Provider Behaviors. Participants talked about specific provider behaviors that ranged from extreme forms of mistreatment to supportive acts of advocacy. This domain captured both specific actions performed by providers and when providers refused to take action.
    Negative provider behaviors included reports of misrepresented test results, malpractice, neglect, withholding of information or treatment, tendency to conflate gender identity with unrelated presenting concerns, and mistreatment from supporting staff such as
    receptionists. For example, Ash reported being told at a medical center, “‘Get out of
    here. We’re not going to help you. We can’t help you. You need help, but not from us.’”
    Ash went on to say, “And I’ve heard that time and time, again. ‘There’s something wrong
    with you, but we can’t help you.’” It was not uncommon for participants to be told that
    they could not be helped or for them to be asked to leave a facility. When searching for
    medical services, Jesse said they would call to check about whether or not a given doctor
    would see them. Jesse stated:
    “And I would say, ‘OK, do you think the doctor would want to see me or would you
    check to see?’ And some of them would say, ‘I’ll check.’ And then some of them would
    say, ‘I know he won’t. Don’t come here. You’ll get thrown out.’”

    https://www.jointcommissionjournal.com/article/S1553-7250(19)30393-9/fulltext

    https://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/whcic-report_when-health-care-isnt-caring.pdf

    In almost every category measured in this survey, transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported experiencing the highest rates of discrimination and barriers to care. Transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported facing barriers and discrimination as much as two to three times more frequently than lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents

    I would dig up more, but this is seriously depressing. I’ve had to deal with a portion of this when I switched from pills to injections. The only reason we got it sorted out is becuase my wife and I are two ornery middle class white women.

    5
  134. Beth says:
  135. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    Ha! I’m new here, don’t know the players well, and didn’t want to be “that guy” (if you know what I mean). I swim in data much of the day, so this is one of my default ways to understand things…..have to remind myself (ie, get reminded by others) that data ain’t everything or the only thing.

    Welcome! You have found a good place to discuss things.

    2
  136. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Wrong. I gave a specific example. 6-8 with a 7 foot span. Ask any basketball player if there is a difference between 6-5 and 6-8 with the same skill set. Yes. There is.

    And of course, basketball and fencing are absolutely identical… [sigh]

    1
  137. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Me, too. And I wasn’t a particular fan of the old Bill, either.

  138. Kurtz says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Male/Female is biological. It’s a matter of chromosomes and physical structures. Yes, there are edge cases–and we should understand and incorporate them–but they’re edge. Bringing them into the discussion is the same as the uptight person saying “But this one boy pretended to be a girl”.

    For me, it is an important, but limited point. To me, the basic two arguments are:

    -Gender and sex aren’t the same thing. Part of the confusion was interchangeable use in common vernacular, semi-official, and official documents for a long time.

    -biological sex isn’t even as simple as the “two genders!!!!” crowd claim. The variations in the combination of sex chromosomes goes beyond XX and XY. Hormones that aren’t linked to the sex chromosomes also play a role in gender expression.*

    There are both valid and invalid extensions of those two facts that are commonly used.

    *Someone feel free to correct my understanding if my understanding is off here.

    1
  139. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz: Lots of good resources here, including definitions of the relevant terms. https://dpcpsi.nih.gov/sgmro/measurement
    As you alluded to, it’s very difficult to have a productive discussion (though I realize, that is hardly the point for many interlocutors) when people are tossing around various terms willy-nilly.

  140. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    I’m only gauging based on the conversation that seems to be happening away from here. OTB is hardly typical of political discourse in many ways, online or irl.

    If those two basic statements are true, then the vast majority of the arguments pushed by one side are invalid. The only thing that can be argued would be in the realm of policy, not biology.

    And yes, the quality of discussion is lacking because the most basic common ground seems to be miles apart.

    2
  141. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz: Agree on all fronts. With the addition that many who speak on this also lack basic common decency.

    1
  142. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I am a bit more sympathetic to your ideas than maybe most posters who are trans are. I need you to know, and they need you to know, that their internal sense of gender is not a whim or a passing fancy. It is something that will never, ever change. It doesn’t change any more than chromosomes do. Sometimes they will change their mind about how to present themselves, that happens. But that’s coping with the social situation, not some internal difference.

    If you need some science to hang your ideas on, I have some. During fetal development, within XYs there are two distinct phases where lots of testosterone is produced, and this produces the changes in morphology that we think of as male. During the first fetal testosterone surge, ovaries are changed into testes, and so on.

    We are less clear about what is changed by the second fetal testosterone surge, but we do know that lots of the testosterone from this surge goes the fetal brain and affects it development in some way. This has been a place where those people who think that females are worse at math point to. I do not share this view, but it isn’t ignorant or crazy. (Well, ok, maybe it’s a little bit crazy because those people will say “Forty percent more variability in males!!” but if you look at standardized tests, that 40% is nowhere to be seen.)

    However, I think it’s highly likely, that it affects a sense of gender in your brain. It is well understood that the brain carries a model of the body and most motor activity first happens to that model in the brain, and then is realized by coordinated muscle action. It’s like a “planning stage”. However, male bodies and female bodies are different, and so the models need to be different. Maybe this is what that second fetal testosterone surge produces. What if it doesn’t quite work as expected? What if the model doesn’t match the actual body?

    You get gender dysphoria.

    You get trans men saying things like “I thought I would grow a penis at puberty”, and so on.

    This isn’t the only way trans people feel about themselves – bodily dysphoria – but it’s a clue to the notion that there’s a lot more going on in our brains than we maybe thought.

    My bottom line is that both the folks that think that genes control everything, and those that think they control nothing are wrong. Both parts of this matter.

    6
  143. Michael Reynolds says:

    @KM:
    Our youngest daughter tried fencing for a while but gave it up for Tae Kwon Do, where she was notorious for chasing terrified boys around the dojang. I have video. (In fact, that’s part of the reason she gave up martial arts – she rather likes boys.)

    Also, you don’t want to get in a go-cart race with her. First time out a grown man stomped off in a rage after she out-maneuvered him. For the third time. She was ready for LA freeways before she was ten.

    2
  144. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    My bottom line is that both the folks that think that genes control everything, and those that think they control nothing are wrong. Both parts of this matter.

    DNA, life experience, free will and random chance: the Venn diagram we live in.

    2
  145. de stijl says:

    The people complaining about high school sports competitiveness, and the people who support Title IX are two entirely different circles that do not intersect.

    It is as if the former are flogging and exploiting a a system they disdain for temporary political edge.

    1
  146. de stijl says:

    @ptfe:

    As ptfe says, the sports angle is concern trolling covering an extremely blatant anti-trans agenda.

    1