Trans athletes make great gains, yet resentment still flares (1 Viewer)

Mr. Sparkle

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Across the U.S. and in many places abroad, transgender athletes are breaking barriers in high school, college and pro sports and being embraced by teammates and fans. But resentments can still flare when transgender women start winning and dominating their sport.

Exhibit A is a recent public exchange involving tennis great Martina Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981 and is a longtime gay-rights activist. She now stands accused of being “transphobic” after asserting that many transgender women — even if they’ve undergone hormone treatment — have an unfair advantage over other female competitors.

“A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires,” Navratilova wrote in a Feb. 17 op-ed for The Sunday Times of London. “It’s insane and it’s cheating.”

I find the headline and overall tone of the story to be a classic example of media bias but its an interesting phenomenon.

If my teenage daughter was competing against a teenage boy undergoing hormone therapy I'm not sure I'd consider that a fair competition. I consider that a good faith question that has to do with biology, not "transphobic resentment."

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superchuck500

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I fully support and actively advocate for equal protection under the law for the people that fall under the various LGBTQ classifications. I do think that trans presents a few issues, almost all of which are reconcilable with thoughtfulness and compassion - as long as we keep the goal of inclusion and acceptance, we can get there.

But I do think that athletic competition is one area that is problematic - particularly in individual sports. When it comes to physiology, the male athlete's body is different than the female athlete's body - and these differences are in different muscular-skeletal components than systems in the body that formulate sex, sexual identity, and gender. Even where there may be confusion and other kinds of cross-gender issues going on - which I fully believe are real in most instances - it still doesn't change the fact that the other muscular-skeletal systems are the typical, expected system for the person's ostensible gender at birth.

I'm not really sure what the best policy is. To be clear, I think that the idea that someone would claim to be transgendered and go through all of that personal crisis and public rejection just to win sporting events or get scholarships is just downright nonsense. People saying "well if we allow transgendered females to participate in women's sports, boys will just start being transgendered to win and get scholarships" is not different to me than when people used to say "if we allow gay marriage people will want to marry an ice cream cone." So I don't see Martina's comments as particularly thoughtful.

But at the same time, it's not a level playing field - which is fundamental to how most athletic competition is oriented. If a female athlete is banned from enhancing her ability with externally produced testosterone, is it fair that another athlete with the testosterone system more like a male athlete can compete in the same competition? No, theoretically is isn't - but at the same time, even natural-born women have variance in their testosterone levels and testosterone-producing abilities. In fact, some female athletic sanctioning bodies have already enacted testosterone programs that could, in some cases, require a female athlete to lower her natural testosterone to be able to compete.

It's all very challenging IMO. I don't know the answer.
 
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superchuck500

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Agree with Martina. It's absurd.
I think the idea that anyone would intentionally go through all of that to win competitions is absurd. That doesn't mean that there aren't other legitimate questions and criticisms, but I think Martina's comments that men who can't win at men's tennis will just undergo reversible transgender procedures to have a winning women's tennis career - and then switch back after retirement is so ill-conceived that it is harmful to the discussion. It completely trivializes the emotional struggle that goes with being transgendered - a struggle that almost none of us could ever understand.
 

Arathrael

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If my teenage daughter was competing against a teenage boy undergoing hormone therapy I'm not sure I'd consider that a fair competition.
In what sense? If your teenage daughter was competing against another teenage girl it'd be unlikely to be a fair competition in the sense that they're both identical and neither has any physiological advantage over the other. So what are we considering to be fair here?

Is the performance of a teenage boy undergoing hormone therapy likely to be outside the range of performance teenage girls can cover? I suspect it probably isn't.

In fact, some female athletic sanctioning bodies have already enacted testosterone programs that could, in some cases, require a female athlete to lower her natural testosterone to be able to compete.
There was a case being heard against the IAAF in the Court of Arbitration for Sport on that last week as it happens (verdict expected next month): https://www.apnews.com/f3bcaf134b7240d2af0bdc6dee39e596
 

guidomerkinsrules

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as long as we have binary classification for gender (which admittedly is generally effective 99% of the time) then we will struggle with the 1% occasions

but let's not let our 'comfort' with male/female divisions distract us from the fact that we adjust to 'unfair athletic advantage' all of the time
boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, etc etc have longer segregated along weight classifications for obvious reasons
kids sports do it along age divisions for obvious reasons - and even make adjustments when say a 9yr old dominates his age division, we move him to the next one up

and sports are nothing but unfair advantages - Shaq has an unfair athletic advantage over me as do Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps (and maybe a few others)
yes competition should be competitive, but we should be dynamic and nimble adjusting to change and not regressive and inert
 

SystemShock

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In what sense? If your teenage daughter was competing against another teenage girl it'd be unlikely to be a fair competition in the sense that they're both identical and neither has any physiological advantage over the other. So what are we considering to be fair here?
Be it as it may, they are both still within the same physiological spectrum.

Is the performance of a teenage boy undergoing hormone therapy likely to be outside the range of performance teenage girls can cover? I suspect it probably isn't.
And your suspicion is wrong.

There was a case being heard against the IAAF in the Court of Arbitration for Sport on that last week as it happens (verdict expected next month): https://www.apnews.com/f3bcaf134b7240d2af0bdc6dee39e596
If the IAAF is going to sanction the amount of testosterone in all athletes, Caster Semenya is SOL (or at least should be).
 
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Dago

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as long as we have binary classification for gender (which admittedly is generally effective 99% of the time) then we will struggle with the 1% occasions

but let's not let our 'comfort' with male/female divisions distract us from the fact that we adjust to 'unfair athletic advantage' all of the time
boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, etc etc have longer segregated along weight classifications for obvious reasons
kids sports do it along age divisions for obvious reasons - and even make adjustments when say a 9yr old dominates his age division, we move him to the next one up

and sports are nothing but unfair advantages - Shaq has an unfair athletic advantage over me as do Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps (and maybe a few others)
yes competition should be competitive, but we should be dynamic and nimble adjusting to change and not regressive and inert
you are not training and competing against them so that really isn't relevant
and IF there is some sort of advantage that a transgender would have and we are going to choose to ignore it, then why not just let athletes shoot up with hormones and PEDs?

this is going to become a bigger issue in athletics as biotechnology advances as well. the whole concept of a "fair playing field" is going to be questioned
 

JimEverett

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as long as we have binary classification for gender (which admittedly is generally effective 99% of the time) then we will struggle with the 1% occasions

but let's not let our 'comfort' with male/female divisions distract us from the fact that we adjust to 'unfair athletic advantage' all of the time
boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, etc etc have longer segregated along weight classifications for obvious reasons
kids sports do it along age divisions for obvious reasons - and even make adjustments when say a 9yr old dominates his age division, we move him to the next one up

and sports are nothing but unfair advantages - Shaq has an unfair athletic advantage over me as do Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps (and maybe a few others)
yes competition should be competitive, but we should be dynamic and nimble adjusting to change and not regressive and inert
This is an argument for additional gender categories in competitions? Would trans people feel that is discriminatory?
 

Arathrael

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Be it as it may, they are both still within the same physiological spectrum.
I was aware that a girl and another girl are both girls, thanks. The question is why would that be considered fair, when that already encompasses a wide range of physiology and performance? Saying essentially, "because they're both girls" doesn't really add much.

And your suspicion is wrong.
I mean... why would I just take your word for that? What are you basing that on?

There's a limited amount of data out there, but what there is tends to show consistent deterioration in athletic performance. This systematic review published in 2017 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-016-0621-y), for example, concluded that "there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery)."
 

Dago

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and just to be clear, I feel like Martina has legitimate questions about fair competition, but I agree that the idea of men getting the gender change JUST to be able to compete in athletics is ridiculous

this is definitely a subject with legitimate points on both sides
 

guidomerkinsrules

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This is an argument for additional gender categories in competitions?
not necessarily (or at all really)
it would be figuring out what the thing is that gives competitive advantage (it's not a penis b/c i know that every female track and field athlete would beat me in her sport)
so is it hormones? if so you calculate the advantage that Bruce has and Bruce starts x number of meters back
there's a staggered start for the pentathalon - so the idea is used to let the finish line of the last event determine the winner
 

guidomerkinsrules

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you are not training and competing against them so that really isn't relevant
yes. training and competing is the reason those guys have an advantage over me:sneaky:

and IF there is some sort of advantage that a transgender would have and we are going to choose to ignore it, then why not just let athletes shoot up with hormones and PEDs?

this is going to become a bigger issue in athletics as biotechnology advances as well. the whole concept of a "fair playing field" is going to be questioned
agreed - this type of question will just get more and more difficult to address as science and technology increase
it's why i argue for 'dynamic and nimble' and let the old guys complain about 'record books'
 

SystemShock

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I was aware that a girl and another girl are both girls, thanks. The question is why would that be considered fair, when that already encompasses a wide range of physiology and performance? Saying essentially, "because they're both girls" doesn't really add much.
Not as much a range as a male vis a vis a female.

I mean... why would I just take your word for that? What are you basing that on?
I guess you never played any sort of competitive sport in your life.

There's a limited amount of data out there, but what there is tends to show consistent deterioration in athletic performance. This systematic review published in 2017 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-016-0621-y), for example, concluded that "there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery)."
... and neither did they.
 

Arathrael

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I guess you never played any sort of competitive sport in your life.
You guessed wrong.

I did reasonably well in reading comprehension too, which is maybe why I'm able to tell the difference between "a male undergoing hormone therapy" and "a male".

and neither did they.
That'd be wrong too. In at least some of the literature reviewed, the author's interest stems in part from their own competitive athletic experiences.
 

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