I don’t really care about professional sports, so I have no personal stake in the trans athlete debate. I consider this issue really low priority. The percentage of professional trans athletes is very tiny and there are bigger problems in society. But I’ve heard a lot of confusion on the topic, so I’d like to chime in.
I haven’t said much about trans issues on this journal yet, so let me just say I have no problem using preferred pronouns. I don’t care what others do with their own body. I’ve worked with trans people before and treated them with the same respect as I would anybody else. But I think in the case of professional athletes, biological sex is more relevant than gender.
The reason I say it’s more relevant is that biological men and women have indisputable biological differences that surgery can’t change. For some reason, a lot of people on the left seem unwilling to admit this, or they dismiss it as “stereotyping”. This is insanity. Men have more muscle mass and faster reaction times. Men’s brains are about ten percent larger. There are hundreds more examples and dozens of those are directly relevant to performance in professional sports.
I get it. We want to be inclusive of trans people, and I think we should be. But biological sex is what’s relevant to performance in professional sports, not gender identification. So it should be made clear that the separation is one of biological sex, not gender. It’s not anti-transgender to not want trans athletes competing with the gender they identify with.
We already separate people in professional sports based on biological differences, like disability. For instance, many extremely intelligent people are autistic. Imagine putting rain man (if he were still alive) up against any neurotypical human in a memory contest. It doesn’t matter who the neurotypical is. They’re getting crushed every time. Imagine putting Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant who learned conversational Icelandic within a week, up against other language learners. It wouldn’t be fair. His autistic brain gives him a massive advantage.
And you might say “Aren’t all these distinctions arbitrary? Neurotypical people’s brains differ. Should less intelligent neurotypicals get their own league too?”. And I think that hits on an important point. We choose how to divide people up and there’s plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree about the divisions.
But biological sex is definitely a meaningful way of differentiating people in sports, and it’s unambiguous. You either have XX chromosomes or XY chromosomes, and that can be used to determine sex. Biological women who don’t want to compete against trans women aren’t being antitransgenderist. They just don’t want to get crushed by trans women who, in many cases, have clear biological advantages over them.
Calling such people antitransgenderists muddles anti-transgenderism. There are people who actually hate transgender people. They give them dirty looks as they walk down the street. They name-call. They talk poorly of them behind their back. Most of these professional athletes, I assume, are not antitransgenderists.
When pro athletes like Ronda Rousey are asked about transgender issues, they don’t know what the hell to say. They’re athletes. They’ve spent their lives training, not learning about every little social issue. Just because they’re not updated on the most politically sensitive language doesn’t make them anti-transgenderist.
If you can’t tell the difference a pro athlete using politically insensitive language to advocate against trans women in women’s sports and someone who yells “TRAP!” at a trans person passing by on the street, you are the problem. You are the reason we can’t have civil discourse about these issues. And you are unprepared to solve problems in the real world.
1: Special Olympics
2: Kim Peek
3: Daniel Tammet
4: XY Sex-Determination System
5: Ronda Rousey