I don’t have time to listen to podcasts, as they’re invariably at least 90 minutes long, but this is a manageable six-minute extract from a recent podcast discussion between Andrew Sullivan and Mara Keisling, the founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (Keisling is a transgender woman, which I mention only because it’s relevant to the discussion).
Keisling claims not only that transgender women and girls have no advantage over biological women in sports, but that clearly that includes transgender women who have had no medical treatment. That, of course, is the same as asserting that there’s no difference between the performance of men and women and sports—a palpably false statement (see the data here). And, as I reported last week, there are substantial data that even hormone treatment of transgender girls after puberty leaves strength and size differences between them and biological girls in place. To obscure the average sex difference or gender difference between biological and transgender women, Keisling bangs on about the variation within any class, which is irrelevant to average difference between classes, which is the issue.
Keisling hardens her position as the discussion proceeds, basically asserting that any difference between men and women in sports (and she’s clearly reluctant to admit the existence of such differences) may rest merely on “height” differences. That, too, is not true, as height is largely irrelevant to sports like weightlifting except insofar as it’s correlated with weight and muscle mass.
Keisling’s is the position of extreme transgender advocates: there are no average differences in sports performance between men and women.
Note that Biden’s executive order of January 20—prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation—pretty clearly states that there should be no discrimination in sports based on gender identity, so that if your gender identity is that of a woman, regardless of whether you’ve undergone medical treatment, you should be able to compete as a woman. There is nothing in his order about any kind of medical treatment. Taken literally, Biden’s order spells the end of women’s sports in secondary schools. Here’s one quote (emphasis is mine).
Section 1. Policy. Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports. Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In nearly all other respects, Biden’s order is not only useful, but salubrious. But sports is one of the exceptions, and it amazes me that transgender advocates like Keisling or Chase Strangio of the ACLU can maintain that there’s nothing wrong or unfair with medically untreated biological males, who’ve nevertheless assumed the identity of women, competing in sports against biological women. The logical conclusion of that argument is that men and women should be able to compete in sports with each other even if nobody is transgender—that is, that there should be no division between men’s and women’s sports. And that’s the position that Keisling comes close to.
You can listen to the full podcast (yep, 90 minutes long) here.