A few days ago, and previously as well, I discussed the difficult issue of transgender women seeking to compete in women’s sports. The thorny issue of “what do you do with males transitioning to the female gender?” or with those who have completed their transition, is often resolved by many with the simple Diktat: “Transgender women are women.” Well, when it comes to “transgender” women who have undergone no hormonal or medical therapy, but are simply biological men who have declared that they are women, the issue isn’t so simple, at least when it comes to sports.
Of course, as I’ve repeated endlessly, anybody who claims they’re a woman should be respected as such, and not discriminated against in nearly any way. But sports is an exception.
I won’t go into the issue of men who have had hormone therapy and the like, though many times they still retain the muscle- and bone-strength advantage that they had before transitioning. These cases, as well as the testosterone limit that can’t be exceeded to compete in Olympic women’s sports, are for other people to judge.
But there’s one kind of transsexual woman where the issue is dead easy to resolve: those women who are men and have simply declared that they’re woman but have undergone no medical intervention. In effect, they have the physiology, anatomy, and consequent sports abilities of men, and of course they’ll beat women in nearly every sport. I can’t imagine any reasonable person who would say that it’s fair to allow such un-“altered” men to compete with biological women.
Except that is, for the state of Connecticut. Oh, and the ACLU.
An article from CBS58 in Milwaukee (click on headline below), describes the recent lawsuit brought by three Connecticut high school girls, who are athletes, suing the state athletic organization’s policy of allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports. Click on the screenshot to read the piece:
From the article:
Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and their mothers claim in their lawsuit the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) policy is a violation of the Title IX act — which bars discrimination on the basis of sex.
The policy, they say in the suit, results in “boys displacing girls in competitive track events in Connecticut.”
. . .In a statement earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union said it would seek to join the lawsuit to defend the interests of transgender student athletes.
“Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students and compromise the work of ending the long legacy of sex discrimination in sports,” Chase Strangio with the ACLU said in a statement.
The invidious thing about the ACLU’s statement, and the statement by the CIAC, is that one “subset of girls” includes biological boys who have undergone no medical transitions towards being girls. That, in turn, includes Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who won places in the state track and field composition although both are untransformed biological males who claim that they are women.
And both Miller and Yearwood wrote sub-statements within the ACLU statement that are largely identical to each other (e.g. “I am a girl and a runner” vs. “I am a girl and I want to run”). And both individuals, along with the ACLU, argue that they are being discriminated against because they are transgender women, lumping themselves in with those transgender women who have undergone surgery and/or hormone therapy.
But Miller and Yearwood aren’t the same as the others, for they have undergone no treatment that would make them even remotely biologically comparable to those who have undergone surgery or hormone therapy. They are simply untransformed males with a psychological claim about their identities, and they retain all the features, like bone structure and muscle mass, the give men and advantage over women in track and field. That, after all, is why they won the championships, and why this lawsuit is going forward.
The CBS58 article further states clearly that Connecticut’s policy—like that of 16 other states—is that “gender identity” can be acquired by self-identification alone, without medical intervention. These states have no restriction on who qualifies as a transgender athlete.
My emphasis in the statement below:
According to CIAC’s reference guide for its transgender policy, school districts should determine a student’s participation on sports teams based on the student’s gender identity and “daily life activities in the school and community at the time that sports eligibility is determined.”
Those rules, the guide says, are compliant both with state law and Title IX.
The guide outlines that in a 2019 consultation with the Office for Civil Rights, part of the US Department of Education, a federal compliance officer confirmed that Title IX “supports transgender athletic opportunities with the gender of which a person identifies.”
“(The compliance officer) further stated that such support does not require hormone therapy nor gender reassignment surgery,” the guide says.
That’s a recipe for disaster and, if taken literally—as is being done by both the ACLU and the state of Connecticut—would spell the end of women’s athletics in that state. I am not surprised that the three women who are suing are angry.
What angers me is that the ACLU, an organization that I long supported, is going with the pure “self-identification” aspect of male vs. female. In the ACLU’s statement, they say much about discrimination against transsexuals, and there is indeed reprehensible discrimination that is immoral, but they fail to address the issue of whether you can simply claim that you’re of one gender, and that such a claim alone qualifies you to compete in sport with other members of that gender.
Here’s part of the ACLU’s statement, which argues that the law supports inclusion, though it also leads to unfairness and, ultimately, exclusion of biological women who identify as women:
Statement from Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project:
“Today’s complaint filed in Connecticut targeting the inclusion of transgender girls in girls’ athletics and specifically naming Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood is a dangerous distortion of both law and science in the service of excluding trans youth from public life. The purpose of high school athletics is to support inclusion, build social connection and teamwork, and help all students thrive and grow. Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students and compromise the work of ending the long legacy of sex discrimination in sports.
“Additionally, the language of the complaint, which deliberately misgenders transgender youth and demands that high school athletics be organized by chromosomes, is an assault on the basic dignity and humanity of transgender people and a threat to the privacy and equality of all students.”
Of course this all hinges on the question of “who is a woman and who is a man?”, a thorny issue for the courts that have to decide this. But if the courts come down to stating that “whoever claims they are a woman counts as a woman,” then that’s the end of women’s sports on the high school and college level.
It’s truly sad that the ACLU has chosen in this case to argue such a position—a position that, I think, no rational person interested in fairness could adhere to. Again, I refer to allowing medically untreated men who claim to be women to participate in women’s sports. The issue of how to deal with those who have undergone medical treatment is a different issue, and a harder one.