Tasmanian Times

Joanna Pinkiewicz

Game Over! The impact of transgender policy on women’s sports …

Self identification has allowed trans athletes to enter women's sports, resulting in significant advantage. Now women are calling for a review of policy.

Women’s sports world wide have been affected by new policies and guidelines which allow biological males who transgender, enter female only competitive fields without rigorous analysis of the psychological and physical impact on female competitors.

At the heart of the conflict lays the legal recognition of “gender identity” as a biological sex. Female participation guidelines refer to females as a biological category, but diversity policies refer to male people who transgender as “legally female”.

In 2016 the International Olympic Committee has announced a significant relaxation of rules of entry for transgender athletes.

Trans women must declare their gender legally and their status can’t be changed for a minimum of four years after the competition. They must also suppress their testosterone to a level of 10nmol/L for 12 months.

Or though these are designed to be guidelines only, they are expected to be followed by international sporting federations involved in the Olympic competition.

While the IOC focuses its criterion on measuring the testosterone level, it completely overlooks the biological differences. In turn harming biological women like an Indian sprinter Dutee Chand who has naturally high testosterone levels. Chand was humiliated and asked for an ultrasound to “verify her gender”!

Since the relaxation of the rules several top women’s competitions have been affected by allowing trans identified males to compete in female sports:

In February 2019, two trans athletes (who were born male and identify as female) took first and second place at the Connecticut state high school track championship.

In 2018, before the USA Powerlifting changed their rules, JayCee Cooper, a trans powerlifter, set records in women’s bench press after only having powerlifted for a year.

In 2018, trans cyclist, Rachel McKinnon, took first among the women at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championship.

She twitted in a reply to the question of ‘Why do you race with women?’

‘1. I am a woman. 2. Every single piece of identification I have, including birth certificate, says ‘F’ on it. 3. We are required, by the rules of sport, to compete with the gender on our identification. 4. I am a woman. That’s why’.

 McKinnon also tweeted that, ‘No one is “Born a man.” We are all born babies. The language of “born a man” helps contribute to harmful myths and false stereotypes.’

In March 2017, Laurel Hubbard, trans athlete won an international weightlifting title for New Zealand. Hubbard, 39 competed previously in a male category and begun transitioning in mid-30’s.

Garry Marshall, president of Olympic Weightlifting NZ acknowledged the issue of language:

“We have to follow the policy of the International Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation,” They do not acknowledge in any way the

gender identity of an athlete other than male or female; they’re not described as transgender.”

In 2014, a Mixed Martial Arts transgender competitor Fallon Fox won a combat against Tamikka Brents. Brents sustained a concussion and a broken eye socket. In a post-fight interview she said: “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”

 

In Australia, the AFL has rejected transgender Hannah Mauncey’s application for draft in 2017, stating:

“The AFL says it based its decision on the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, which states that athletes can be discriminated against based on their sex or gender “if strength, stamina or physique is relevant”.

AFL’s Gender Diversity Policy was reported as an “apprehensive work in progress” due to its cautious approach and consideration for female competitors.

Women’s Valleyball Australia however thought that it was ok for Mouncey to play in their national women’s team, even though Mouncey played 22 games with the Australian Men’s national team before identifying as a woman in 2016.

Several athletes expressed their objections against transgender athletes in women’s sports publically:

Former Brazilian gold-medal volley baller Ana Paula Henkel said about two transgender athletes in her sport: “They shouldn’t be allowed to compete with women. It is not a matter of prejudice, it is physiology.”

Cyclist Jennifer Wagner who came third to transgender athlete Rachel McKinnon in the UCI Masters track cycling event spoke out on Twitter: “Definitely not fair”, before being called transphobic by McKinnon and having to withdraw her comment under public pressure.

Martina Navratilova’s essay came out for Sunday Times on the 17th of February 2019, expressing a view that biological men should not be allowed in women’s sports and that they have a significant advantage and she considers them “cheats” For this she faced barrage of criticism and personal insults and was then expelled from an advisory board for Athlete Ally, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

She has commented publically again on 3rd of March, saying:

‘’Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone.

“When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life.

“And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.”

Several other retired sports people came out in support of Martina’s statement: marathon runner Paula Radcliff, middle distance runner Kelly Holmes and former British swimmer Sharron Davis.

Locally, sporting clubs will possibly be placed in a difficult position to interpret the guidelines and balance the competing rights of females and trans people.

I will share a quote from a letter by a Hobart soccer coach which was submitted to the Members of the Legislative Council:

“The proposed changes to birth certificates will allow self-identification of sex and will over time deny young girls a fair competition, as it will open women’s sports to male participation.

Regardless of therapies, males have great advantage in sports not just in terms of physical but also in terms of skill development. Young boys are given opportunities to develop skills for a given sport from 6-9 years old, while girls are in most cases are not given the same opportunity until 13-14. This difference at an early age, makes a massive difference later on.”

What are the alternatives?

UK advocacy group Fair Play For Women suggests making the male category open to both transmen and transwomen.

I suggest stopping the conflation of sex and gender. Biological female and legal females are not one and the same. Don’t gloss over the differences! What we need is a greater acceptance for non-stereotypical presentation for males and females.

Imagine gender non-conforming males who identify and present themselves as “feminine” be socially accepted in male sports, due to them being biological males, without going through hormone therapies and surgeries.

Imagine gender non-conforming females who identify and present themselves as “masculine”, compete in female only sports without put downs or humiliating “sex testing”, based on the fact that they are biological females.

Imagine less stereotyping of men and women, less objectification and sexualisation of girls and women, many of whom are battling body image issues and sexual harassment.

Allowing males in women’s sports is discriminatory to women. Glossing over the biological differences sets dangerous precedents of depraving women of the same opportunities as men and fair playing field in sport.

Alternative policies need to include women in the decision making process.

Resources and References:

International Policies:

https://www.usapowerlifting.com/transgender-participation-policy/

https://www.transathlete.com/policies-by-organization

https://cyclingtips.com/2017/07/cycling-australia-introdcues-new-transgender-athlete-policy/

https://fairplayforwomen.com/sport_policy/

National Policies:

https://s.afl.com.au/staticfile/AFL%20Tenant/AFL/Files/Gender%20Diversity%20Policy.pdf

Media:

  1. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-rules-on-trans-athletes-reward-cheats-and-punish-the-innocent-klsrq6h3x
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/03/sports-stars-weigh-in-on-row-over-transgender-athletes
  3. https://www.thepostmillennial.com/canadian-sports-experts-embrace-misogynist-practices-to-please-trans-activists%EF%BB%BF/?fbclid=IwAR1pwMcQUTTZLisq1YqfqEmc18wPWjuG0Km3Jgw3xCi80tcX6JOd7SqmL6c
  4. https://road.cc/content/news/173121-transgender-cyclist-told-she-can-no-longer-compete-mens-events-despite-decades
  5. https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1021488/marc-naimark-the-fairness-fallacy-is-destroying-women-athletes
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/03/22/transgender-woman-wins-international-weightlifting-title-amid-controversy-over-fairness/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0dadf4686277
  7. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6298053/Trans-cyclist-defends-championship-win-3rd-place-competitor-complained-NOT-fair.html
  8. https://politica.estadao.com.br/blogs/ana-paula-henkel/biologia-nao-e-de-esquerda-nem-de-direita/
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/25/transgender-wrestler-mack-beggs-wins-texas-girls-title
  10. https://wwos.nine.com.au/news/hannah-mouncey-helps-australia-qualify-for-handball-world-cup/38b51d8a-dc34-4795-80ce-0ed9e08554a8

Wikipedia:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_verification_in_sports
Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    March 14, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    There is an Alice-in-Wonderland quality to this. It is as if one has all gone down an ideological rabbit hole and confronted characters and opinions whose construction is so unlikely, rationally irrational and inconsequential, one actually suspends disbelief. And while that can be endlessly entertaining and mentally stimulating for children, if it happens in the real world, as in the above, one is in much more trouble than the Mad Hatter and his tea party.

    To get into this mind bending place actually requires previously unheard of levels of totalitarian over-pressure and reality removal into a fantasy world that bears almost no relation to anything, except its own internal dynamics.

    The way that happens is out of the creation of economy that has to run on fantasy in order to escape the drag of ordinary needs and wants. And the big mother fantasy of them all is sex, whose parameters get systematically blown to into imaginative hyper-space to the point of space-time absurdity.

    Miserably ordinary reproductive sex becomes a pedestrian accompaniment to rocket fueled ‘outthereness’ which came to be known as ‘sexualityspeak’, that fluffed and danced the fandango of a thousand veils, until everyone was so mesmerized, it eventually went poof, and lo…sexual identity was born, with more incense, chanted slogans and sacred relics than a medieval church, replete with all the fantastically overbearing and conceited priestcraft you would expect.

    And the congregations dutifully worship in the malls and halls of this cathedral, do exactly what the priests tell them they can and can’t do or believe, and bleat the instructions back and forth between themselves until they think these thoughts are their own.

    The only downside to this very elegantly designed system is the damage it does, as anything that does not accelerate the means of production and reality construction, ceases to be ‘supported’. Human beings who have been reduced to the level of shop troops, contractor warriors and the most abject egoism, have no other socialization mechanism except those provided Marketing and Sales Inc. Their internal self management and control software has been rendered redundant, which means they can be sold absolutely anything, and are helpless before their desires, which become more real than life itself.

    Such a scenario is a grossly abnormal and perverted system of totalitarian misgovernance and abuse of our species and the world it inhabits. It has turned the environment and the city of the human imagination into a charnel house and concentration camp where the prisoners of desire and fantasy cannot bring themselves to leave, because they held by visions of paradise, brought to them the proud sponsors and their appalling social and corporate acolytes, whose mantras of deregulation and privatization masked as freedom and rights relentlessly drives them and us towards an existential and ecological vanishing point.

    If we think we can hear the voice of the Queen of Hearts, it is not particularly the fault of the transgen spades who have been sent to summon us. We cannot blame them for being in this psychological space They did not build it. They merely exploit it.

    And unlike how it was for Alice, it might not be quite so easy as it was for her to get out of the dream, because the cards are real and the rabbit hole is Wonderland Inc, that grinds its way through the collective hearts, leaving behind mountains of used fantasies and the things that satiated them.

    And in the meantime, the transgen Tweedle Dees and Dums still hold most of the cards, ‘discrimination’, ‘bigotry’, ‘prejudice’ and ‘vilification phobias’ are trumps and the ladies have a losing hand, in a world rigged to make sure they always do. Nothing new there girls, unless against all the odds we pull together and somehow turn it around.

    Ho Hum.

  2. Isla MacGregor

    March 14, 2019 at 11:49 am

    A new group is now under way:

    Save Women’s Sports
    A platform for truth in the transgender athlete debate

    We are a team of individuals from all backgrounds created to defend women’s right to fair sport.

    Defending Biology is not Bigotry. There is no excuse for abuse.

    All voices must be heard in the fight for fairness in womens sports.
    We want to give you a voice!

    We are working on compiling stories and quotes to feature on our page and we need your help!

    We respect your privacy and provide the option for you to remain anonymous.

    More: https://savewomenssports.com/?fbclid=IwAR2p55-6jd_NaMQnoa1A5JtIocaH0XiH-zy7MpvjHgpsik1CT7sdL5KbGpA

  3. Lola Moth

    March 14, 2019 at 10:59 am

    When I was a child I was barred from joining the Bondi Nippers because I was female. Females were not allowed to be members of the Bondi Surf Club so while my brother got to race on the sand and compete in surf carnivals I got to sit and watch knowing I could never participate.

    When I went to school the girls and boys were separated into different sports and the girls weren’t allowed to play boys only sports. After I left school there started to be women’s football teams and recently women’s sport has really taken off. Women’s leagues get more media exposure now and it is finally socially acceptable for women to play sports that used to be reserved for men only. Women have never sought to compete against men in these sports. They have never wanted 50% of team placements so that sports become co-ed. The two biological sexes are separated in sport because of the physical differences between them.

    Now there are biological men participating in women’s only sports. They are blitzing the field because they are male, not female, so they have an unfair advantage when it comes to physical sports. This is the most ridiculous thing I have come across when it comes to sport. It is worse than when women weren’t allowed to play because it is erasing women from sporting teams created especially for them.

    Biological men who say they are female in order to excel at a sport they would not be so good at if pitted against other men, are destroying women’s sport from the inside out. Allowing a tiny percentage of the population to dissolve the whole idea of women only sports so that 51% of the population will never be able to compete on a level playing field is breathtakingly selfish.

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