Transwomen Banned from International Track and Field
A big reaction to a small problem.
NPR (“Transgender track and field athletes can’t compete in women’s international events“):
World Athletics Council, the governing body for international track and field, will bar transgender women athletes from elite competitions for women.
The council’s policy, which will be in effect starting March 31, largely targets athletes who transitioned from male to female after going through puberty as a male. It will also tighten rules for athletes with disorders of sexual development, cutting in half the level of testosterone athletes can have in order to compete in women’s events.
The council said they ultimately decided to prioritize “fairness and the integrity” of the female competition over inclusion. Though the council says there are no transgender athletes currently in international track and field competition, the ruling could hinder several people who’ve won Olympic medals in the past.
“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” Sebastian Coe, the council’s president, wrote in a press statement on Thursday.
At the center of the issue is whether transgender women athletes have a physical advantage over other female competitors, even after lowering their testosterone levels. But there is limited scientific research involving elite transgender athletes — which the council also acknowledged.
World Athletics Council said that they have conducted their own research over the past decade and that they found there can be an impact in performance. Several international groups including the Human Rights Watch have called the council’s evidence flawed.
Even without strong evidence of an advantage, the council has scrutinized the performance of athletes such as South African runner Caster Semenya, the world’s fastest woman in the 800 meters. Semenya, who was raised female and is legally female, was born with XY chromosomes and has a naturally high testosterone level.
In 2018 World Athletics required athletes with differences in sex development to lower their testosterone levels with birth control pills, hormone shots or surgery. Semenya refused, saying such treatments had left her feeling like she would have a heart attack, and took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ultimately ruled against her in 2019. She is currently appealing the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights.
International track and field is not the only sport to be moving away from trans inclusion.
Last year the world governing body for swimming, FINA, prohibited transgender women from participating in female swimming competitions. In 2020, World Rugby also ruled that transgender women could not play rugby internationally out of “safety and fairness” concerns for non-transgender women.
Intuitively, this seems like the right move, if a rather cruel one. To exclude transwomen from competition sends the hurtful message that they’re not fully women. Additionally, the ruling goes beyond that, excluding intersex women like Semenya.
The entire premise of having gender-segregated sports is that, otherwise, women would not be able to compete and derive the benefits of athletic competition. Sports that prioritize muscle mass and speed would simply be dominated by men once puberty kicks in. That transwomen who transitioned after puberty retain substantial advantage is incontrovertible and has been demonstrated time and again, as mediocre male athletes suddenly become dominant female athletes. (Indeed, there has been no comparable reaction against transmen competing in men’s sports.)
Ultimately, this strikes me as a numbers game. Athletic associations are balancing the integrity and survival of women’s sports programs against the rights of a relative handful of elite trans and intersex athletes.
If we are going to have women’s sports and we are going to ban steroids, then this seems reasonable. It is not fair, but there is no “fair” in this. One group or the other is going to find themselves left out.
@MarkedMan:..but there is no “fair” in this.
What does fair have to do with anything in life?
I don’t like this, but it bothers me a lot less than laws that prevent hormone-blockers for young people.
It bothers me a lot less for the same reason that I think it’s kind of dumb. It’s fighting ghosts. There just aren’t that many people affected. And the one or two that are aren’t pure test cases. Like Semenya, who is intersex.
I mean, should we have disqualified Serena Williams from playing tennnis because she’s so big and strong?
But even though there aren’t that many people affected, it still adds to a climate of, well, “Ewww! that’s weird” and maybe “those people are trying to get away with something”.
Which no. Just No.
This was an unnecessary defeat, a fight that should not have taken place, and which damaged the cause of trans rights. Fight the necessary battles, not every possible battle.
Tangentially, people still argue that there is no evidence that surgery helps mental health. Keep this paper in mind if you want to push back or at least know what the literature says.
Thank goddess, The Ally is here to tell us how this is all trans people’s fault
@Stormy Dragon: you must have a farming background, to be so habitued to constructing enormous straw men.
@Michael Reynolds: What battle? All I see here is a sanctioning body proactively dealing with an obvious issue.
@Lounsbury: Must you?
@steve: Honest question: what kind of gender-affirming surgery would a ‘gender diverse’ person get?
You are neither strategist nor tactician, you’re just a virtue signaler. People like you are all about the noise and the rage. You don’t really want to win because a win would deprive you of your soap box and you’d lose an opportunity to draw focus to your unmatched virtue. You live at the Tik Tok level of politics. Some of us actually want to win, because some of us have skin in the game.
In military terms you’re the officer who thinks the whole point is the glorious charge. Not for you the clever flanking movement, or the siege, or a tactical repositioning, no sirree, charge! Always charge! Rather a Prigozhin strategy. Attack until all your people are dead, then walk away blaming everyone else.
This was a stupid fight to have. It made the trans movement seem unjust and social justice movements cannot appear unjust for obvious reasons.
And you’re General McClellan, forever holding back because no battle is ever the right battle.
Seriously, when in the last six years, have you ever said “this is the battle trans people need to fight”? All you do is shit all over them for not being more passive and letting transphobes carve away their rights salami style because it’s never worth it (to you) making cis people uncomfortable.
The kind of surgery they think affirms their particular gender expression, which varies widely from one non-binary person to the next.
This is going to sound incredibly off to some people, but the entire “trans women are real women” (and the men one) is just, well, wrong. It’s true enough in 99% of situations and interactions. And it’s kind — a quality that should never be dismissed.
But it’s also aspirational, like “all men are created equal,” where we hold the ideal despite knowing that the disabled kid, the middling kid, the athletic kid and the smart kid all have very different potential and opportunities. Or the kid born into a rich family vs the poor family. We acknowledge the differences, and try to lift the less advantaged kids up a bit, because even if they aren’t created equal, they should be.
And the people who harp on the differences and try to make them important in cases where they aren’t are assholes. And unkind. But mostly assholes.
But in the end, there are differences between a trans woman and a cis woman and they aren’t entirely interchangeable in every case, and I’m a little uncomfortable calling anyone a real woman or a real man (is Donald J. Trump a real man? Discuss.) so it feels right to just say “yup, they’re a real woman.”
Professional sports feels like a case where they may not be interchangeable and where the difference can be acknowledged even if it is unkind. It’s a case where they are trying to acknowledge and exalt every single difference in genetics and opportunity and upbringing, and there’s something inherently unpleasant to me about it, but… apparently people feel a need to know which freak of nature swims or runs slightly faster than which other freaks of nature. None of these people are normal. I don’t get sports. Feels like eugenics.
In short, I’m already bored of the Michael Reynolds / Stormy Dragon argument and wanted to try to start another one along really narrow definitions and accuracy vs kindness instead.
James- That would be determined by the person and their medical team. It varies but most people going through a transition will have a team that will include therapist/psychologists, someone managing meds and finally the surgical team. There can be some overlap and i am sure some places have more people involved. What surgery and in what order is determined by the person and the team. While there is an attempt to individualize care my sense is that most teams have a definite preference and probably pass that on to the patient.
(I am not directly involved in this care but partner’s spouse trained to do gender reassignment surgery at one of the big NYC academic centers. We have had them over to dinner a few times and talked at length which has helped us a bit while our daughter is going through this.)
Well, here we get into definitions again. Trans women are women in terms of gender identity and our cultural and social norms (at least I think they should be). But trans women aren’t males.
I’m mostly in agreement with @Gustopher.
I like the analogy. Indeed, if transwomen were women in every way, we wouldn’t need the word at all.
If they’re nonbinary, do they have s single gender expression?
@steve: That’s interesting and reassuring, of course. And at the same time, the whole line of argument is garbage. In this country, we cherish the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” knowing full well that sometimes when people pursue happiness, they get it wrong.
So, as far as surgical interventions on adults go, those who are against it have it wrong on multiple levels.
Broadly speaking there’s four sorts of non-binary people:
Agender: genderless, neither male or female
Bigender: simultaneously male and female
Genderfluid: gender expression varies over time
Genderqueer: something that doesn’t really fit into a male/female spectrum at all
Best explanation I’ve been told is if you think of one of those soft serve ice cream machines where you hold up a cone and pull the chocolate lever or the vanilla lever and the corresponding flavor comes out the nozzle, agender want the empty cone, bigender want the lever in the middle that makes both come out, genderfluid pulls different levers depending on mood, and genderqueer wants mint chocolate chip
@Stormy Dragon: @Stormy Dragon: This is my basic understanding as well and thus the reason for the question. Trans, I get: your body doesn’t match your gender identity and you want to make it match. But, if you’re genderfluid or genderqueer, what “flavor” surgery would you even get? It’s rather a permanent decision.
Does the fact “Black women”, “old women”, “working women”, etc. exist imply they’re all not women in some way?
An AFAB genderfluid persom might want a breast reduction to make it easier to pass both ways but forgo genital surgery, for example.
Well, yes, I understand that, but if you want surgery, how do you choose between male and female, especially if you’re bigender, because the surgery is permanent.
@Stormy Dragon: All of those are subcategories connoting intersectionalities.
@Stormy Dragon: That makes sense.
There’s been other options for about 15 years now
That will allow the individual to alternate bewtween male and female as desired?
@Stormy Dragon: I’m pretty sure genderqueer is an umbrella term for anything that is not precisely male or female — a quick Google shows multiple different definitions, but the umbrella term seems more dominant (with some including trans binary as genderqueer as well, others not)
And it would make sense, as plain queer is an umbrella term for a vast pantheon of orientations and lack thereof that leaves out only permanently straight.
(Not sure why we need both queer and genderqueer, as we would all be wearing the same pink triangles in the same death camps, but there’s probably some specific need other than “let’s throw trans folks under the bus”)
Quite possible. I have to admit I don’t fully understand genderqueer, although that doesn’t actually matter since I don’t need to understand it as long as it makes sense sense to them! =)
@CSK: There are plug on parts. The surgery is just to install the ports.
Ok, more seriously, apparently some people find boobies deeply disconcerting when they are feeling more masculine and a lack of boobies less disconcerting when they are feeling more feminine. The same probably goes for weenies in the other direction.
It becomes a matter of what body a person can accept living in, knowing that their gender varies but the body tends not to.
@Stormy Dragon: I have no idea what the “not at all male, not at all female, not agender but some whole other thing” gender can possibly be. Sounds exhausting.
Given how everything in our society is structured around a binary gender either explicitly (bathrooms) or just through long running bias (teachers are girls!), I can understand “column a”, “column b”, “some from column a, some from column b”, and “i’m not playing your column a and b games”… but what is in column c?
It’s a mystery.
The bathroom fight. The fight over ease of name change. The fight for equal employment opportunity, housing, etc… Access for trans youth to treatment, to shelters, etc… The right to be safe if arrested. You know, the shit that actually matters. See, 100% of trans people need to pee, while something less than 1% want to engage in sports in a gender different than their birth assignment. 100% of trans people need basic rights, like the choice of gender ID, like jobs, like homes, like schools.
The athletics fight is 1% of 1%, literally a handful of cases. Not the fight to have, because losing edge cases just makes us look weak and trivial. Especially since we were absolutely guaranteed to lose, so the fight was a show of political impotence.
Now, you DGAF because, IIRC, you’re a newcomer to progressivism, a reformed libertarian needing to parade your virtue, hence the prosecutorial act. For you this is just a sideshow, for me it’s my kid’s future. So you’re happy to lose gloriously, a defeat is fine for your needs. I need to win.
–Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-five
The “only a small percent want to participate in sports” goes both ways. And the problem is that once you concede the “trans women aren’t really women and it’s unfair for ‘real’ women if they are treated as such”, you’ve already lost the bathroom argument. Which is exactly what’s happened in every state that’s passed a sports ban: the transphobes immediately start using it to argue for lockerroom and bathroom bans.
The fact most trans people aren’t involved in sports is exactly why that’s where you want to fight, because there’s less collateral damage then giving it up and trying to fight some place else.
Right now trans rights are on a knife’s edge. Remember: there is no ‘trans voting bloc.’ Trans rights depends entirely on the weight of allies and I think a lot of allies are looking for a way off the boat. Every time we lose a fight, fewer people want to enlist. When we force allies to say things like, ‘I don’t know how to define a woman,’ we lose supporters. You do not force your allies to fight stupid, unnecessary battles, not if you want to keep allies.
Now, allies like @Stormy think a righteous defeat is great fun. I don’t. Because we are losing ground, the world is becoming a narrower place for trans people, and there’s no certainty that we can turn the tide. It is entirely possible, for example, that my daughter will be forced to revert back to her dead name if she wants a passport or DL. It’s entirely possible that insurance will cut off her hormones. It’s possible she will be denied employment. Not to mention the harassment.
So, yeah, I DGAF whether some self-appointed heretic-hunter like @Stormy thinks I’m sufficiently orthodox. He wants a show with himself as the star of the virtue parade, I want to win.
So, pick a battle you know you’ll lose because there’ll be less collateral damage than a fight you might win or might lose, but which is actually relevant to people’s lives. Wow. “Marines, I need you to take that hill. Sure, I know you’ll fail, and it has no strategic value, but hey, when we lose we’ll have only limited casualties.”
You have all the skills of a Russian general.
Because I ultimately don’t think the sports batter is any less winnable than the bathroom battle. If any thing, I think the bathroom battle is long term the harder fight, so I’d rather spend the next 20 years fighting over sports access.
Like I said, you are neither strategist nor tactician. You’re a ‘look at me!’ virtue signaler. Next time someone asks why Democrats can’t manage to craft a message or define an issue, you can raise your hand and say, ‘it’s because of virtue-signaling dilettantes like me!’
In sports, transwomen objectively harm the ciswomen (because in many cases defeat then); in bathroom issue, the “harm” is simply an eventual psychological distress by having to share the bathroom with a transwoman (and it is not even clear if more women don’t feel more distressed by sharing the bathroom with a transman than with a transwoman). And attending that many places have mixed bathrooms for years or decades without big controversy, probably the only true reeason of the controversy about the WC is the desire to create a cultural war, while in sports there is indeed a real complex situation.
@Michael Reynolds: Who do you think organizes what fights do or don’t happen?
Is there some globalist organization that nods sagely and says “this one, let’s fight this one and skip over the sports…”?
I think it’s a large number of people making individual decisions, some of whom were regrettably drafted into some asinine sports thing when they were 4 and have been practicing every day and think that it’s unfair that they can’t compete for what they’ve been training for their entire life just because they are trans. Fucking sports groomers.
(And it is unfair. But life is unfair and it’s not the biggest unfair thing, and try telling a young person that they aren’t the center of the universe, particularly a young person who is charismatic and can get others to her side, and got them to fight for this)
Unless you have some device for controlling what everyone on the left does (in which case, I recommend you change the settings to control the right, and just solve a lot of problems), saying “this isn’t a fight we should have fought” is pointless. It’s just a stupid argument. It is based on the notion that people won’t behave like people.
The only area where any concerted actor can influence is “well, what now?” My suggestion is to shrug and move on, and let this battle run its course and move on to something that matters. Like access to health care for trans kids, the ability to pee, the slate of laws that are trying to “ban drag” in such a way that any trans person is a criminal…
It’s a movement run by young people, and for all their many strengths, young people have one critical flaw — they’re idiots who think they can make the world a good, fair place, and who don’t know how to settle for making the world a less worse, less unfair place.
And telling them otherwise is like telling people not to feed the trolls. It doesn’t work until they see how dealing with trolls plays out, and even then… maybe.
They have to lose occasionally so they can learn what doesn’t work. It’s a pretty minor issue. Good place for this year’s crop of youngsters to lose and learn.
In a few years the next crop of youngsters will have to learn very similar lessons, so it will seem like they never learn.
That’s not always a terrible strategy. If we did more of that in Vietnam, we would have had fewer casualties when we gave up and left.
Not that I want us to give up our entire war for trans rights.
If you have to fight a stupid battle that you will lose, it’s best to fight the smaller stupid battle and lose less. (Tying into my “you don’t always get to choose which battles” thing).
Bathrooms, clothing, existing in public … way more important than sports. Hopefully organizations are only putting the minimal effort into sports, effectively fighting for the small hill.
@Stormy Dragon: For sports access all that has to be done is parade around the fact that Fallon Fox has literally fractured the skulls of two bio women that she had faced in MMA…back to back. Things like that make some that are fence sitters say, “whoa, wait a minute… that’s a bit extreme.”
Especially since most so called men’s divisions are really open divisions. There are no rules saying no women allowed in quite a few sports, someone just has to qualify to be part of the team, match, whatever, in fact there was a female on my high school’s wrestling team in the early to mid nineties and she did very well.
Things like that make them unwinnable, but wtf do I know, I just work in sales and have been a grassroots political activist. If I can’t get people to my point of view, me and my shih-tzu don’t eat, and he is too special to me to let him starve. If I remember right, you work in IT and don’t have to use any sort of persuasion to make a living except in interviews for a new position.
In sales we call things like the skull fracture thing, pain points. Things you bring up that create a visceral reaction within the person you are working with. In my current world those are things like safety ratings, geotrackers and speed alerts for when you let your new driver kid take the car for the evening, etc.
That is where progressives tend to lose…too many academics and not enough salespeople getting attention. Not to slam academics…i wanted to get my fat ass firmly ensconced in the ivory towers if academia when I went to college.
JimBrown32 makes this comment quite a bit, but in different terms.
Oh my fucking God, there are too many people caring about where somebody drops a turd.
The lexicon to discuss this subject hasn’t really been developed yet which is why people will continue to talk past one another. All men are indeed equal…but all men are not the same. Both statements are true at the same time.
“Trans women are real women…” What does that even mean? Gustopher clued in on a salient point…first we’d have to agree on what the heck a real woman is to evaluate a statement?
If we are saying Trans-women are equal to humans born with XX Chromosomes… that’s unqualifiably true. If we are saying they are same….this becomes nuance depending on if the comparison points are based on artificial societal constructs, current biology, or birth biology.
We have a society ordered around all 3 of these factors for better or worse and none of them can be dismissed because of:(name your ism, phobia, etc) people have to be won over.
@Jim Brown 32:
That is absolutely not my point. Let me try to be clearer.
My point is that doing the kind and decent thing almost always means that whether a trans woman is a “real woman” is besides the point. You don’t need to define “real woman” to treat someone with respect, call them by their name (and pronouns) and let them live their life unmolested.
Other than feats of strength, I have a hard time finding a case where it matters. Treat people with kindness and when someone will inevitably be uncomfortable, let many people be slightly uncomfortable infrequently than a small number be very uncomfortable on a regular basis.
What are the hot button issues? Do any require a definition?
Bathrooms: The gotta piss somewhere. Are trans folks more likely to assault or be assaulted in public bathrooms? We know the answer, so the trade offs are clear, let them piss where they want.
Being teachers, caregivers, etc: If evidence emerges that they molest or murder children at a greater rate than the general population, we can look at it. Until then, let them be. I do not think that evidence will emerge, by the way.
Being youth pastors: oh, fuck no. Anyone who wants to be a youth pastor needs to be put on a watch list, trans, cis, straight, gay, whatever. Jesus, youth pastors are a bunch of predators.
Allowing gender affirming care for kids: With suicidal inclination rates where they are, do you want kids to suffer? Of course not. This is what we have that works best now, in a decade, things might change*, but kids need help now. I almost want to say it’s child abuse not to provide care, but the issue right now is even allowing it.
Note that nowhere do you need to figure out the exact definition. If you treat them with kindness you end up treating them like their chosen/revealed gender, and it ends up being close enough for rounding.
Spending time on those differences when they don’t matter… it’s not kind.
That rubs me a little bit the wrong way, because I’ve always been more of a “celebrate the differences” liberal than a “were all equal” liberal, but at least right now, with our society demonizing trans folks, yeah, just gloss over it or it will be viewed as yet another attack. So, they’re “real women”, sure. Or “real men”, whichever they want.
(For the record, I think the known trans folks who comment here are fine folks and categorize them in their chosen genders but I don’t really think about that categorization that much. I hope they are having a lovely weekend, wherever they are.)
Plus, when non-binary folks wander by, they will destroy your hard fought definitions in an instant.
*: Look at sinus surgery. Every 10-20 years it changes so much that what was done before looks barbaric. Medicine is messy — it’s basically perpetually doing research on large populations with new techniques and monitoring the outcomes. It should make you squeamish to think about doing that to kids. At the same time, it’s not like we delay cancer treatment until kids are older.
@Gustopher: I got that point as well out of your original comment. I happen to believe the same.
However, I find that it amounts to an ‘All Lives Matter’ position with the people most emotionally invested in this issue. They want their gender identity (beyond their humanity) validated without distinction in all corners of society.
@Jim Brown 32: “All Lives Matter” is just a racist dog whistle. It has genuine animus behind it.
Anyway, given that the discourse in queer spaces is often heated arguments on things like whether trans men can be lesbians*, the notion that they want their gender identity validated is… problematic. Often the gender identity isn’t even going to be understood.**
The practical engineering answer of “do I need to answer this question to solve the larger problem?” is a lifesaver.
*: on the surface, this seems like a stupid question, with an obvious answer of “no.” But there are a not insignificant number of people who came out as lesbians, lived as lesbians, and then years later came out as trans men when they finally realized they weren’t butch lesbian tomboys, they were just boys. Which means that they lived, identified, struggled and formed community with lesbians and oh god it’s all so stupid definitions are hard and this is why we have umbrella terms.
**: I assure you there are people who identify as non-binary aromantic demisexual pan (not bi! Or bi not pan) polygamous three other adjectives. No one can figure it out, even them, and in two years there will be seven more adjectives on that and four will be dropped. And more power to them.
I make it sound like a freak show, but really it’s just people with very complicated gender and sexuality who try to identify themselves using terms that are imprecise and often contradictory. Some just give up and use umbrella terms.
At a certain point you have to just shrug and get to “what do you want to be called?” (because that’s important) and possibly “do you want to sleep with me?” (only important if you want to sleep with them) and just let them navigate the rest of their complicated life with minimal interference.
(Meanwhile, I can’t even be bothered to figure out which of the overlapping definitions of pan and bi really apply to me… the definitions are basically the same… pan has a nicer pride flag so I would lean towards it, but it wasn’t really a thing when I was growing up… but that bi pride flag is really ugly)
@Gustopher: I forget the book it was in; maybe in the first “Chicks in Chainmail” anthology–but there was a lovely short story where a cranky religious man had decided “we’re NOT paying for women’s breastplates for female warriors!”(attempting to discourage female warriors from signing up to the palace guard and to get the ones that were already there out)….so the female warriors took advantage of the “medical support” provided as part of their contract and had the palace magician detach and reattach their boobs instead, which ended up being far more expensive than if the women’s breastplates had been paid for. (IIRC, at the end of the story the king pitched a fit at the expense and the religious guy had to back down with egg all over his face.)
I always like the idea of detachable boobs.