ACLU continues defending the right of medically untreated men who claim they’re women to compete in women’s sports

I used to admire the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); I used to donate to the ACLU and was a member of the ACLU; the ACLU took my case when I was drafted illegally, and got me (and several thousand COs) out of our alternative service when the courts ruled unequivocally that the government had violated its own rules. Over history, the ACLU has been a fantastic organization for preserving the civil liberties of everyone, particularly those who are oppressed.

But now they’re going woke, and thereby going downhill. Like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they have decided to get into the social-justice arena—which would be okay except that they are taking positions that are neither reasonable nor supportable. In this case, they’re trying to argue that it’s discriminatory to prohibit biological men who claim that they’re women—”transgender” athletes who have undergone neither surgical nor hormone therapy—from competing in women’s sports.  The ACLU has been arguing this for some time (see here), and the motivation behind this are recent instances when men who identify as women, but haven’t undergone hormone treatment or surgery, are beating the pants off women in track events. See this description of a Connecticut race in which two transgender women took first and second place, at least one of which—and probably both—hadn’t begun physical or hormonal transition (see also here).

In this 2019 article on the ACLU website (click on screenshot), two employees of the organization argue against banning “trans girls” from school sports. The problem is the definition of what a “trans girl” is. If it includes males who have decided they’re women but have done nothing to modify their bodies, then their argument loses force.  And Medley and Sherwin apparently abide by that definition.

I’ve written several times about the difficult ethical and physiological issues at play when deciding how to deal with both transgender athletes and those who have an intermediate sexuality (see some of the articles at this link). The problem is what kind of definition you use to assign someone as “men” and “women” in contests like the Olympics.

But I don’t think anyone would disagree that if you’re born as a biological man, and you decide you’re a woman but do nothing about it medically except make the claim, you should not be allowed to compete with women. It’s unfair to the women, for there are pronounced physical and strength differences between men and women that give men an inherent advantage in many sports. In fact, this is the very reason why men’s and women’s sports are segregated—to prevent unfairness.

In fact, even if you begin a medical transition to a woman after puberty, the muscle mass and bone strength you’ve acquired already may give you an advantage in sports that lasts for a lifetime. That is a more difficult problem, and one that I’ll leave aside (see my discussion here).

However, in many states, including Connecticut, biological men need not undergo any medical transitioning to claim that they’re women, and thus to compete with women in sports. As the Washington Times notes, (my emphasis below):

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, which tracks state policies in high school sports across the country. Seven states have restrictions that make it difficult for transgender athletes to compete while in school, like requiring athletes to compete under the gender on their birth certificate, or allowing them to participate only after going through sex-reassignment procedures or hormone therapies.

The other states either have no policy or handle the issue on a case-by-case basis.

“Without restrictions” means that the simple claim that you’re a woman qualifies a biological male to compete in women’s sports. Such claims were apparently made by the two winners of the Connecticut track championships. In fact, according to the Associated Press, the families of three of the women athletes who lost in these competitions are suing the state for its criteria (they also seek to ban all transgender athletes from participating in girl’s sports, which isn’t as cut-and-dried as prohibiting just males who haven’t begun transitioning).

In its self-righteous article, the ACLU uses the Connecticut case an an example of discrimination against transgender people. Here’s a quote (the reference to the Connecticut case isn’t here:  it’s at the beginning of the piece.)

There is a long legacy of sex discrimination in athletics. Myths, such as the idea that physical exertion would harm women’s reproductive systems or that women were inherently inferior athletes, were historically used to “protect” women out of participation in entire fields, including marathon racing and contact sports, despite ample evidence that girls can compete and win against boys. The enactment of Title IX, the federal statute banning sex discrimination in school programs and activities receiving federal funds, was intended to end such discrimination, and it has indeed resulted in a dramatic increase in girls’ participation in sports. But girls — and particularly girls of color — still face stark inequalities in opportunities, funding, and resources.

The marginalization of trans student athletes is rooted in the same harmful history of gender discrimination and stereotyping that has impeded the achievement of gender equality in sports as a whole. Old stereotypes regarding athleticism, biology, and gender are being directed at transgender girls, who are frequently told outright that they are not girls (and conversely transgender boys are told they are not really boys). This policing of gender has been used to justify subjecting transgender student athletes to numerous additional barriers to participating in sports, from onerous medical requirements to segregation in locker rooms to outright bans on their participation.

The truth is, transgender women and girls have been competing in sports at all levels for years, and there is no research supporting the claim that they maintain a competitive advantage.

Much of this is okay, but it is also said to apply to what I’ll call, for lack of a better term, “psychologically transitioned women.” And notice the link in the last sentence; it goes to an Everyday Feminism article that doesn’t talk about research at all! I’d bet a substantial amount of money that medically untreated men who compete in women’s sports will indeed “maintain a competitive advantage.”

The ACLU would have a better case if they argued that “transgender women” who have a right to participate in women’s sport were men who had begun hormone and other medical therapies to remove some of the inherent male advantage in size, bone structure, and strength—though even that might not be an ethical fix. But does the ACLU really want to die on the hill of arguing that men who haven’t done anything to their bodies should be able to compete in women’s sports? For surely that would be the end of women’s sport!

As I’ve always said, if someone born male wants us to address them as women, treat them like they’re women in everyday circumstances, use female pronouns, and assure them equal rights, that’s fine. But that equality isn’t automatic when it comes to sports—or other situations like rape counseling when victims want help from biological women. The mantra “trans women are women” is insupportable when those “trans women” rest their identities solely on a claim without any medical intervention—and then want to engage in women’s sports.

Is there any reader who supports the ACLU’s arguments—unless the transgender women who want to compete have begun medical transitioning?  Does anybody feel that an unaltered male should be able to compete with women solely on the basis of an identity claim? I doubt it. And yet that’s the law in 17 states.

The ACLU would have more credibility if it had more nuance (yes, I used that word) about what it was trying to defend. Of course we must come to grips with the athletic implications of transgender people, but we can start by asserting that some medical intervention is required before you can “switch teams.”

It’s very sad when the defining institutions of the old Left, like the ACLU, undergo mission creep of this kind, becoming so woke that they can no longer rationally deal with legal or moral issues.

UPDATE: I see from the ACLU’s website that they’ve been busy tweeting away about this. An example:

Really? Come at me, bro? What the bloody hell happened to this once admirable organization?

98 Comments

  1. EdwardM
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It is becoming apparent that one of the hallmarks of the “Woke Mind” is that reason is the first thing that leaks out.

  2. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    This reader does not support Males deciding they are Females to compete in female sporting events. Stronger, even if ‘transitioned’ I would generally not support it, for the reasons you mentioned.
    ACLU is on a dangerous track (sorry for the pun) here, that has nothing much to do with civil liberties, and everything with cheating.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      I agree. I think the only solution is to allow trans athletes to compete against each other. Create as many categories as there are types of people.

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Better is just two categories: women (by which I mean women-women) and “open”.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          I’d be worried you’d end up with mismatches similar to the men against women scenario.

          • Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

            Why would you?

            • Adam M.
              Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

              I suppose transwomen on long-term hormone treatments couldn’t compete effectively against men who still had normal hormone levels. “Women”, “transwomen”, and “open” would avoid some mismatches. But if you’re going to go down that path, why not a bunch of categories based on ranges of natural hormone levels? At some point it just gets too unwieldy and divides time, people, and resources too much. I still prefer “women” and “open” as the best compromise.

              • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                I suppose transwomen on long-term hormone treatments couldn’t compete effectively against men who still had normal hormone levels

                Well tough. I couldn’t compete effectively against a mythical version of me that didn’t drink too much beer but did keep up his physical fitness.

                Maybe there should be a category for overweight unfit men. And we demand equal prize money.

        • Jeff J
          Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          Yes. XX chromosome category, and an open category.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The ACLU will wreck their own reputation if they stand on this one. Why do they think we have women’s and men’s sports in the first place. So people can just pick one?

  4. Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    And this nonsense if why I’m no longer a member of the SPLC or of the ACLU.

  5. aburstein
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Not sure if you realize it, but the article is almost a year old. Nothing really new here. You posted about it previously here.

  6. Adam M.
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I stopped donating to the ACLU when they said they’d no longer defend the free speech of people whose political opinions they didn’t like.

  7. Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I certainly don’t think men should compete as women no matter what they say.

    There’s no easy solution to this problem that would make everyone happy, right? Are there any good proposals out there that deal with this issue and that we can all get behind or argue about? Presumably there are. Perhaps it would be constructive to rally around one and ask the ACLU to back it.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      “Are there any good proposals out there that deal with this issue”

      Surely someone must have already suggested calculating a handicap (probably can’t call it that!) based on testosterone levels, similar to that used in golf. Or even establishing a minimum testosterone-level requirement similar to weight requirements in boxing divisions. A little imagination, please.

  8. Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Following their logic, we toss out Title IX:

    Women and men are exactly the same and no more, “gender policing.”

    Everyone completes on the same playing field. Let’s see how many female pros there will be in a year …

    Just for instance:

    WR long jump, male: 8.95m
    WR long jump, female: 7.52m (the first WR in male long jump was 7.61m, in 1901)

    WR 100m dash, male: 9.58s
    WR 100m dash, female: 10.49s (last that high for men in 1920)

    WR 100m freestyle swin, male: 46.91s (long course)
    WR 100m freestyle swin, female: 51.71s (long course) (Men’s last that high in 1972)

    WR marathon, male: 2:01:39 (there has been a sub-2hr men’s marathon)
    WR marathon, female: 2:14:04 (last time men’s was that high was 1964)

    Yes, men and women are exactly the same. /sarcasm

    • Adam M.
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      That’s the most salient point, I think: the records. There aren’t that many men who claim to be women to compete in women’s sports, and I expect most competitions will have zero trans people in them at any given time (although I’ve read that some highly competitive “women’s” teams are seeking them out to gain an advantage, and in certain Olympic sports, trans people regularly take all the top spots now).

      But the records matter long-term and transcend individual competitions. It only takes one decently competent man in a woman’s competition to set a record that no woman can ever beat, and as these records are set here and there, there’ll be a steady erosion of possibilities for women to ever break a record again. The prospect of breaking a record, be a local school record or a world record, is a big factor driving athletes to strive for excellence, to be the best. A record that was unfairly set and is literally impossible to beat will instead serve as a demoralizing force. The destruction of those possibilities for women will do permanent damage to women’s sport.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      As noted by the “last men’s” dates, these are yawning gulfs in performance. 1972 is the most recent “last men’s” and that was 58 years ago, during a time when sports have become more sophisticated and competitive than ever in history.

      (Apologies for the typos).

      Can someone point to a sport where women consistently come out on top in level-field competition?

      When Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in 1973, he was 55 years old and she was 29 years old and at the top of her career, having won Wimbledon, the US Open, and the French Open the previous year and was ranked #1 in the world.

      Riggs stopped competing professionally in 1959 and hadn’t won a Grand Slam Tournament title since 1941. Not exactly a level field competition.

      Sure, Serena Williams v. Novak Djokovic. Let’s give it a go.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Oh crap did I just age another ten years? I remember being 12 in 1972 and I thought I just turned 60, oh noes… 😉

        • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          Yes, 48 years, hey, I’m an engineer, don’t expect me to do arithmetic! 🙂

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Correction, Riggs was last a pro in 1951.

      • Peter Taylor
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        The only one I can think of is the discus, where from the 1980s on the women’s WR distances have generally exceeded the men’s.
        However, the men’s discus weighs 2 kg and the women’s weighs 1 kg.

        Description here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discus_throw#World_Championships_medalists

        • Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          So: Not a level competition.

          • Peter Taylor
            Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

            Well yes, as I commented in my follow-up.

      • Peter Taylor
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        (responding to the query about women performing better than the men. Not a level playing field, though.)

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Generally, women can’t even compete with 14-yr-old boys (judging by national women’s soccer teams getting thrashed by local-club U-15 boys).

        • Dragon
          Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          I am a big fan of the USWNT.
          Don’t use that as an example. It is an urban legend with a tiny grain of truth, but extremely misleading. There was one scrimmage in Dallas against a U-15 team, but not just any team, the FC Dallas academy team.

          Scrimmage, not a game. The USWNT was not trying to win. They were demonstrating soccer skills to the boy’s team and getting a few reps in before a friendly match.
          Not ‘teams’, not ‘local-club’, not ‘compet(ing)’.

          You have been mislead.

          • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            There are other examples, such as the Australian national women’s team losing 7–0 to Newcastle Jets U-16 boys.

          • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

            And Manchester United women’s team (one of the strongest in the UK) losing 9–0 to the Salford Academy U-15 boys.

            Which is not intended to be demeaning to women. They are biologically different. We shouldn’t expect them to compete physically with men.

            • Dragon
              Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

              ‘One of the strongest’ at the time they played that game? I heard that was 2-3 weeks after Manchester United formed the women’s team. One team hadn’t been playing together and the other had played for years together. They may be one of the strongest now, but at the time they hadn’t played together against any prior teams, so the moniker seems a stretch.

              My son played college soccer. Including the finals of the region twice in his 4 years. He is extremely competitive. And yes, his team could potentially beat the USWNT in a real game. And lose nearly every time to the USMNT. (It is the beautiful game, so anything could happen) His team also ‘lost’ a scrimmage to a high school team (7-5 iirc). In the second half of that scrimmage, they were passing the ball back to the high school team so the college keeper got tested in real situations.

              Yes, there is a real difference in physical ability. But a scrimmage is not the same as a game. The FC Dallas U15 is not a valid data point. Apparently the Manchester United isn’t either, but may be closer. Australia may indeed be. I could not locate much detail about that game to be certain. And they were #5 in the world at the time.

              My google-fu is insufficient to find any news about the USWNT losing to the USMNT U17. It sounds very plausible in a real contest however. U17s are pretty close to the full USMNT and a few even make the USMNT.

              Note: My opinion is the ACLU went too far in this case.

              • Michael Waterhouse
                Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

                The Australian evet is real.
                Here is a link.
                “https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3609949/Matildas-lose-7-0-Newcastle-Jets-15s-Rio-Olympics-warm-up.html”

          • EdwardM
            Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            They also lost 8-2 against the U17 USMNT

          • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for this corrective.

            • EdwardM
              Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

              I too am a big fan of the USWNT but “it was only a scrimmage” is not much of a defense. One only has to spend a little time with athletes who compete at that level to understand. I guarantee, though not a World Cup game, both teams played to win.

              • EdwardM
                Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

                ..and that was not their only loss to a boys team. In fact, I am unaware of any victories against a men’s or boy’s team. I thought they beat a college team in the late 1990s, but I can find no record of that, so I may be misremembering.

              • Dragon
                Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

                I replied to this interpretation of ‘scrimmage’ above.

          • BJ
            Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            The US Women’s gold medal hockey team from the last winter Olympics lost to several high school boys teams. In fact, they (and many women’s teams) scrimmage/play against very good high school boys teams to practice.

      • BJ
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Back in 1998, Serena and Venus said they could beat any man ranked around 200 in the world. Karsten Braasch stepped up to the plate and played a set with each of them — after playing nine holes of golf, drinking a couple of beers, and not bothering to warm up. He beat them 6-1 and 6-2, respectively, in immediate succession. They claimed after the match that they could at least beat any man ranked around 350 in the world, but never decided to put it to the test…

      • Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:05 am | Permalink

        Both Serena and Venus played a set against Kaarsten Braasch (ranked 203 at the time) on the same day.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_(tennis)#1998:_Karsten_Braasch_vs._the_Williams_sisters

        They both lost.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Quite.
      Could do Chromosomal XX with female phenotype and open to keep two categories.

      I’m not sure how this will embed here but see: https://twitter.com/ZubyMusic/status/1100348562041462784?s=20

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes, my solution (which is the correct one, of course 🙂 ) is: Two divisions:

        Women’s
        Open (everyone else)

    • EdwardM
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      You make excellent points but WR are by definition, outliers. Perhaps a better way to look at it is to ask where do top women competitors as a whole stack up against males in the same timed or measured events*. For example, even though the 2016 gold medalist woman marathoner beat about 1/3 the men’s field (Jemima Sugong would have placed 95th out of 141), the average woman’s time was slower than all but three of the men.

      *sports that rely on great technical skills are somewhat less bimodal in the gender disparity.

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Yep, they are going to be excited about maxing out at 95th place.

        This simply makes my point.

        The top levels of every sport are incredibly tight filters. If the best you can do is 5th percentile in the cohort, you’re not going to be playing.

        There are men’s and women’s divisions in Biathlon, for instance (on the skills side).

        I don’t think many would say that women can’t compete on a level field in things like billiards, darts, or similar things that rely very little on strength, speed, size, etc.

        Very few women have excelled at motor sports. Is this the result: Ability? Interest? Sexism? Strength and Stamina? A mix of these? Don’t know. (It may well be like in rock music: Every rock musician (who is male), if they are honest, says they went into it to “get women.” Women don’t have to do this to “get men”. Race-driving strikes me as a very similar activity.)

        • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

          There are women rock climbers who can climb better than 99% of all male rock climbers. (Lynn Hill, in her day, comes to mind.)

          Trouble is, the top 1% of male rock climbers is a pretty big cohort. Probably in the N=100 range. Again, if you’re notching in at the 1st or 5th percentile, you’re not really setting the world on fire.

          Essentially all athletes, who are serious about their sport, are competing for prizes in meets/competitions, are in it to excel, be the top dog, to set records.

          As Adam M. notes in his reply: If the records get set by men posing as women (and are accepted by the governing bodies) that are unattainable to women, that pretty well destroys women’s sports.

          • EdwardM
            Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            If rock climbing had weight classes I believe women could not compete with men; a 95 lb climber is different than 195 lb climber.

            • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              This may be true (they couldn’t compete). I don’t think the experiment has been run, intentionally.

              I am just talking about the ability to climb certain routes, which is what mostly matters in climbing.

              And there are some damned good women climbers out there. But again, they aren’t going to penetrate the world’s top 100 in all likelihood.

              • Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                I think some few women climbers would indeed be in the top 100. For example it took 10 years for a male to repeat Beth Rodden’s Meltdown.

                Climbing is a rare sport in that what matters is strength/weight ratio, not strength, so women can be pretty close to the best men.

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Sorry to be posting so much; but …

        I think this fairly well answers the question about overall performance:

        http://boysvswomen.com/#/

        That is US high school boys against the elite women of the world, with the most sophisticated, nationally-backed, full-time training.

        That and the fact that the US Women’s Soccer team (frequent World Cup winner) is regularly beaten by boys HS teams.

        All this is to make a point, which I feel is a feminist point: There are men’s and women’s divisions in sports for a good reason. Protecting women’s divisions from men competing in them is a feminist stance.

        • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          Apparently I am wrong about the USWNT. But it’s true of other WNTs in soccer.

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        I think I missed the basic tenor of your comment by too-fast a reading of it. Apologies. 🙂

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Well, I guess ‘concours hippique’, horse jumping. Should we have sseparate categories for mares and stallions?

  9. Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Myths, such as the idea … that women were inherently inferior athletes

    This is manifestly not a myth as jbillie’sst above demonstrates.

  10. Jonathan Dore
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I must admit to feeling very little sympathy for those who are so intent on asserting their rights that they are willing to overlook the manifest injustice of their actions — and even less for those virtue-signallers whose rhetoric provides them with the moral cover to do so.

    Perhaps this will only stop when the women and girls being run out of these races stand together and boycott any race where a medically untreated male is running. So far, their parents have got mad, but the participants themselves are, I suspect, under strong social pressure not to risk being labelled “transphobic” — and it’s not hard to guess that the would-be female athletes and their abettors are cynically banking on that pressure to keep them silent. On a more personal level, the female participants may also just not want to protest against an individual they consider a friend. But this is the barrier that is going to have to be overcome if the sports officials, lawyers, and commentariat are ever going to be shamed into confronting the moral untenability of their position.

  11. Sastra
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Old stereotypes regarding athleticism, biology, and gender are being directed at transgender girls, who are frequently told outright that they are not girls (and conversely transgender boys are told they are not really boys).

    Black female athletes were never told they weren’t female, and biology isn’t a stereotype. Arguments for keeping trans identified men out of women’s sports resemble the original arguments for having separate sports for women in the first place.

    Allowing in some trans women if they have on surgery or hormone therapy won’t work. For one thing, it’s still far, far from a level playing field, physically. But more importantly, it contradicts their own narrative regarding “gender identity” as the factor which sets men and women apart.

    According to the theory, if a boy has a female gender identity, then they are a girl, and we’ve discovered that they never were a boy. It happened in the womb. And there’s no way to test the theory … yet. Or ever. And no male trans child has ever said “I’m really a girl because I like trucks, dirt, and roughhousing with boys.”

    This isn’t progressive. It’s regressive, and sexist as hell.

    Although they mention trans men, note that there’s not a similar problem with them entering men’s sports and setting records. Testosterone and surgery aren’t enough.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      It would certainly uncomplicate things if women in particular were allowed to compete on the men’s track team. That would automatically mean that women who were identified as male at birth would have a place to go.

      • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        I’m pretty sure this is already fully available, in general.

  12. Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    This is something I feel pretty strongly about.

    I usually say something like: Women have just gotten their sports recognized, have a somewhat equal footing (at least under law) in public school sports. And now this comes along and will destroy it.

    A nice microcosm of this is the girls locker room in middle school. (We all, I think, remember the humiliation of middle school locker room.)

    The “right” of a guy who simply “identifies” as female somehow trumps the rights of (probably) every girl in the school to not have a guy in her locker room. In what world is this the correct answer?

    (I leave aside the opposite switch, since every middle school guy I ever knew would react to naked girls in their locker room with delight. Yet another example of the imbalance (and differences between makes and females) here.)

    • max blancke
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Not long ago, they showed a school board hearing where a male to female trans child claimed that the school’s policy of providing a solo facility for changing and showering was discriminatory.
      The child wanted to change and shower with the girls, and the authorities agreed.
      I was struck by one of the girls who was in tears and just floored by the decision.
      I think it is a betrayal.

      And I say this both as the parent of a trans child, and as someone who grew up in a culture where there was a great deal of nudity.

  13. Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    If a male decides to become a female he can do that, but should recognize he us limited in that while he can act like a female and be treated like one, he can never be one. , and there are limitations in what he can be. Men have gained some freedoms, but there are limits to what can be attained by living what us basically a charade. We can have what we want but only if what we want has to be within the realm of what us possible.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      You sin! Of course she becomes a real woman! Any other expression is transphobia!

      /bullshit

  14. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I believe I have mentioned before my little Nissan Versa sub-compact car, which claims that it is really a Cadillac Escalade.
    Alas, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not accept its claim. Is there an ACLU of cars to which we can appeal about this clear case of oppression and anti-inclusion?

  15. Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I remember seeing statistics about women Olympians vs high school boys in track and field. A quick Google turned up this site: http://boysvswomen.com/

    The bottom line is that the women winning medals in the Olympics could not even qualify for the high school boys’ meets. It is manifestly unfair to allow biological males to compete with biological females in these events.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Right, and that’s just for the niche individual sports.

      For team sports, the difference is even more pronounced. I didn’t know this until recently, but the US Women’s national soccer team regularly scrimmages, and loses to, 14 and 15 year old boys.

      To put this in perspective, those women represent the best female soccer players in the world. Take the US squad of 22 players, and the number of female soccer players that are equal or better than them world-wide must be less than 100 people.

      In contrast, look at these U15 boys that are beating them. Granted these are boys from elite clubs, but they are nowhere near the best male players on the planet. Think how many more male players are better than these boys worldwide, and what the gap must be between a 14 year old youth player and an adult male pro playing in a top league! How could the women ever compete against even a middling male professional team???

      • EdwardM
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        The USWNT is an outlier in many respects in the same way the US Men’s Basketball team was for many years and for some very similar reasons. As good as the USMNT is (and I am YOOO-GE fan) the fact remains that they are so dominant* primarily because the opposition is so poor.

        For example, in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, which the US women handlily, at least in the 2nd half) defeating Canada (the USWNT have won 8 of 9 GCs except 2010 when they finished 3rd behind Mexico and the winners, Canada) – of the 44 matches played in both qualifying and knockout rounds, 12 (!) games were won by a goal differential of > 7 and almost all the winners had a clean sheet. Winning a soccer game by 7 goals is, in the sports vernacular, a right shellacking and it happened in more than 20% of the games played in the tournament (which also counts as an Olympic qualifier). In men’s competitions you sometimes see huge goal differentials but they are rare. They are common in women’s competitions. But times are achanging.

        * historically anyway, things are changing now that the women’s game is getting the respect it deserves. The last FIFA WWC was an excellent tournament competitively, the 13-0 defeat of Jamaica notwithstanding.

  16. eric
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I think this is the sort of issue that may drive us to do away with ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s sports altogether, and move to something like a blood testosterone level distinction.

    To be clear, I don’t think anyone is trying to ‘cheat’ by declaring themselves a different sex merely for competition purposes. This is IMO a case of good-hearted people on both sides of an issue trying to do what they see is right. But without some distinction that makes both scientific and cultural sense, women are going to suffer more social harm than good from positions like the ACLU’s.

    There’s a legal maxim that says “hard cases make bad law.” Meaning it’s typically a bad idea to derive general rules for the entire populace based on rare/extreme cases where a general rule may not apply well. That seems to fit this situation.

    • max blancke
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I would suggest that the vast majority of the people involved on every side of the issue mean well, but the issue is driven by a core of people who are agenda-driven extremists.

      I know a couple of people who grew up in East Germany in the 70s, where at some schools there was a conscious effort to subvert sexual norms and what they felt were outdated family structures. The things they were willing to do to kids to further that agenda were just horrible. Of course, the goal was not to mess up the kids. The goal was to create a utopian society.

      There are always people who are willing to destroy everything we care about in order to create utopia.

    • Matt Young
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      I do not think this is a hard case: biological males should not be allowed to compete against biological females, no matter how much they feel like females, for all the reasons given above. Caster Semenya is a hard case.

      • aljones909
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Caster Semenya is a biological male.

        https://www.letsrun.com/news/2019/05/what-no-one-is-telling-you-about-caster-semenya-she-has-xy-chromosomes/

        • Matt Young
          Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes, thanks, that was a good article. And yes, I knew that Ms. Semenya was or was assumed to be XY. But she (I gather) is externally female, was raised as a girl, and identifies as female. That is what makes it a hard case. High school boys who claim to be girls, even if they honestly think they are girls, cannot make all 3 of those claims, and possibly can make only one.

          • Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            I hate to muddy the waters, but this seems parallel to the case of the illegal immigrants who were made such as involuntary children.

            In both cases, one has to look at frequency and if small enough to not let hard cases make for bad law. Let her compete would be my answer because of this – and work better to raise international standards so things can be discovered.

            (This can be done in parallel with the categorization based on testosterone, if desired. I am not sure it is – because of the break in the records – but …)

            • Matt Young
              Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

              I lean toward letting her compete too, but that is by no means the same as letting normal males (or former males, if you prefer) compete, whether or not they have transitioned. She has, after all, been treated as female her entire life.

              The problem with testosterone tests is that somewhere, sometime, somehow, someone will find a perfectly normal XX female with high testosterone, and then we will start all over again.

    • aljones909
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      “I think this is the sort of issue that may drive us to do away with ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s sports altogether, and move to something like a blood testosterone level distinction.”.

      Why? Virtually everyone accepts male/female categories in sport. The only people who have a problem with it are an insignificantly tiny number of individuals who want to cross over from male to female (Significantly, female to male isn’t a problem. Female to male transgenders aren’t competitive with biological males )

  17. Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    It being a man or woman is simply based on subjective feelings, rather than being rooted in biology, then what prevents an adult from entering a competition for children, as a “trans-child”, as long as they say they feel they are still a child?

    The biological differences between adults and children cannot be anymore pronounced than those between men and women. I really can’t see any reason to bar adult-looking trans-children from competing with other children.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha! Why the hell not? After all, there are lots of them around.

  18. Curtis
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. If Jenner had competed as a woman, she would have been able to win about a dozen gold medals. It would have been a travesty.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and an interesting hypothetical would be if, 5 minutes after creaming the men’s event, he transitioned, just by saying so, and proceeded to cream the women’s event.

  19. g.
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    The ACLU is steadily abandoning its original mission. Witness the newly nuanced defense of free speech. It now requires context around how offended people feel about the speech in question. And where were they on the rights of the accused in Title IX cases? Kavanaugh? Did they defend Weinstein’s right to be defended by Sullivan? These were all classic ACLU positions. No longer. The wokeification of America continues.

  20. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I came across this declaration: “Statement of Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Organizations in Support of Full
    and Equal Access to Participation in Athletics for Transgender People” https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Womens-Groups-Sign-on-Letter-Trans-Sports-4.9.19.pdf

    In the statement there is this passage: “The idea that allowing girls who are transgender to compete in girls’ sports leads to male
    domination of female sports is based on a flawed understanding of what it means to be
    transgender and a misrepresentation of nondiscrimination laws. Transgender girls are girls and transgender women are women. They are not and should not be referred to as boys or men,biological or otherwise.”

    If they declare that the objections of those who want to ban trans women from women’s sports are “based on a flawed understanding of what it means to be transgender and a misrepresentation of nondiscrimination laws.”

    But they don’t bother to explain the alleged flaws in that understanding. I’d sure like to hear what they are.

    They’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid.

    • Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes: How does a guy saying “I am a female” make them a female?

      I’m sorry, that’s just bullshit wish-thinking. Magic-thinking. An “other way of knowing” something that is totally detached from reality.

      (I say these words over this cracker and it becomes human flesh — not only that; but human flesh that is more than 2000 years old!)

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      It is really pretty simple:

      Trans women are women.
      Cis women are women.
      Trans women are not cis women.
      Cis women are not trans women.

  21. Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Do able bodied athletes compete at the Paralympics?
    They have their own games, so why not transgenders. I could see all kinds of benefits for the athletes at such games.
    Transgenders’ need to accept their unique situation, as the Para athletes do. Push it out there and make it universal.
    In the Masters Games it is all about personal best. In 2017 one women was the only competitor (101yrs old) in her catagory. Her efforts were discribed as inspirational.
    In the case offered up in the post it seems to me, the young transgender should have atheletic mets organised, supported by health agencies and government (health) initiatives.
    Athletic bodies need to get in behind, here they have the opportunity to further track and field and use the Para athletes and games as a model.
    Fuck the woke, this is about friendship, camaraderie and the competive spirit.

  22. Jimbo
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    It is about fairness. This wokeness also elevates the notion that male and female are on a gender continuum which doesn’t have significant implications to performance. We all know it does as evidenced by every olympic record ever posted by men and women. Isn’t it uncanny that all this controversy is over men who transition wanting to compete as women but there are no examples (that I know of) of women who transition to men kicking the crap out of them in sport. Why is that?

    Out of curiosity, I went looking for examples of elite athletes where a woman beat the men without given any special advantage. I know of the classic tennis matchup between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs but that is controversial.

    I did find the case below in which an insane badass woman soundly defeated all the men, fairly: in extreme distance running. Absolutely remarkable:

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      And also in extreme distance swimming, women seem to have an advantage based on endurance and, in the case of swimming, probably differences in buoyancy. But these are very unusual events with many fewer data points than more common sports.

    • Max Blancke
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      That was an interesting read.
      When my Mom was about 40, she could absolutely bury me in the 10 mile run. I was not a couch potato either. At that time, I was starting to compete at long distance bike races. I was pretty impressed with myself until I challenged her to a running race.

  23. Darth Dog
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    If someone who is twenty five years old identifies as younger, can they play Little League? If so, I am going to put together a team this summer and win the state championship.

  24. Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Pretty crazy. I can no longer support the ACLU.

  25. Eric Grobler
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what woke Elizabeth Warren’s take is on this.

  26. Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I have read the post and all the comments.
    It appears we want to recognize that some men want to to women.
    We agree that they can call themselves women, and dress as women and be addressed as women. But we are not willing to give them full rights as women. There are restrictions on their actions and what they can do as women. One if those restrictions is competing with women in sports. There are other restrictions which have not been discussed. Sounds fine to me.

  27. Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    The running women who wins is interesting. My view is that if the sport confers an advantage to something strength related, the best man will always beat the best woman.

    Switch to something not based on strength and it can be an even playing field.

  28. Raymond Cox
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I am afraid this discussion is effectively over and the transgender lobby and its allies has won. They have successfully persuaded a majority of opinion-formers that any criticism of the agenda of transgendered activists and their allies is bigotry comparable to prejudice against gays or people with dark skin pigmentation, and therefore anathema to all right-thinking people. Who wants to be “called out” as a bigot?

    This is particularly unfortunate since the aggressive behavior of the “trans-cult” seems to have inhibited any sort of dialog with “gender-critical” feminists. Apart from participation in sport (where in my opinion no-one who as undergone male puberty can fairly compete as a woman) there are other legitimate questions for discussion such as how to deal with children who reject the sex they are born with, and how to deal with transgendered people in prisons.

    The attitudes of some “gender-critical” feminists are not helping to obtain a constructive dialogue. There seems to be a pervasive undercurrent of dislike or even hatred of men – understandable for women with a history of abuse – which is reflected in dismissal of the idea that even a person born a boy who lives an unremarkable life in society as a woman can in any sense be part of the community of women.

    Both sides of the controversy refuse to accept the reality that while sex is binary (with a very small minority of genetic malfunctions where unambiguous assignment is not possible) there is a spectrum of transgenderism. Neither party seems willing to embrace this idea; the trans-lobby includes as a woman anyone who thinks they are one, while the “gender-critical” feminists consider that only biological females deserve to be considered as women.

  29. Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I accept the statement (even if it is vague) that “transwomen are women”. (I do not claim to fully understand people – usually women – who claim to be aware of their “gender identity” as opposed to, say, awareness of primary or secondary sexual characteristics, stereotyped behaviour [however socialized or not], etc.)

    I do not think it necessarily follows from this that any necessary rights or privileges come from this.

    An analogy (though to a domain where in fact I disagree with its application): some countries (e.g., the US) make certain offices only open to certain citizens based on origin of the citizenship.

    Is this discriminatory? Yes, a little.

    As for the stuff about the washrooms, here people sometimes forget the competing other security control (so to speak) – to protect the transgender person in question. Here I regard the matter as now purely factual – over all risk does seem to go down if one permits this expression of gender identity rather than biological sex. So I would allow it. If it turns out that the factual premisses are wrong, then we collectively have to decide about acceptance of risk.


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