In 2018, she became the first transgender world track cycling champion by placing first at the UCI Women’s Masters Track World Championship for the women’s 35–44 age bracket. . . . In an October 2019 time trial, Ivy broke the record for the 200-meter sprint for females aged 34–39.
She’s received death threats for this, which is absolutely unconscionable. Nobody should be threatened for competing when they’re allowed to. This is a philosophical and practical issue, bearing on questions of fairness, but not an issue that should be used to attack trans people. But as Ivy argues below, even raising these issues is “transphobic”.
Ivy was a tenured professor at the specializing in feminism and feminist philosophy at the College of Charleston, but resigned last year. As you see below, she is quite articulate and makes her points well, even though I think every one of her arguments is either misguided or wrong.
I haven’t listened to Trevor Noah much, as I don’t get cable, but from what I’ve heard from him I find him not nearly as funny as his predecessor Jon. Stewart. Noah has also seemed to me overly woke. One would think, then, that he would bow to Ivy’s claims that she is a woman in every sense and has no advantage in athletics over biological or “cis” women. But though he’s very calm and a bit timid or even apologetic, Noah does wind up asking Ivy the hard questions that we’ve discussed here. So kudos to him: he does bring out Ivy’s philosophy well by asking questions amiably.
Most people seem to agree with me that existing data show that once you go through male puberty, you acquire aspects of bone structure, physiology, muscle mass, strength, and size that would give you an athletic advantage over biological women. And those advantages don’t go away, even with subsequent therapy to reduce testosterone level. Thus, there’s a permanent and what I’d consider an unfair athletic advantage to transwomen competing against cis women. (Ivy herself transitioned well after puberty, when she was getting her Ph.D.)
The solution? I’m not sure, but various people and organizations have suggested allowing all trans people to participate only in men’s sports, creating a third grouping for those who don’t fit into the classical two, or trying to find a way to create a “level playing field” for trans women via medical intervention (the latter, though seems nearly insuperable).
But Ivy doesn’t care much about bodily advantages. First, she claims there is no advantage of trans women because the variation in testosterone level within a sex is not correlated with athletic performance within that sex. That may be true, but doesn’t address the issue of the huge difference in testosterone level between cis men and cis women: there is almost no overlap. Moreover, it’s not testosterone levels themselves that are the best index of athletic potential (that’s how they used to be used in the Olympics), but the effects of testosterone on the body as one goes through puberty. She briefly alludes to this, but her view seems to be that regardless of any hormonal supplementation or medical intervention, anybody who considers herself a woman should be allowed to compete in women’s athletics. Period.
This is how she puts it:
“It all boils down to, do you actually think that trans women and intersex women are real women and are really female, or not? And if you do, it’s very simple: Just stop policing who counts as a real woman.”
. . . . “It all boils down to: ‘Do you actually think that transwomen and intersex women are real women and are really female, or not?’ And if you do, it’s very simple: just stop policing who counts as a real women.”
Noah should have asked her whether a medically untreated biological male who identifies as a woman should be allowed to compete against women. I suspect she’d say yes, for she’s absolutely adamant that a transwoman can be considered and treated as a woman in every sense. (My view is “almost every sense”, but there are exceptions dealing with sports, incarceration, and rape counseling).
If you ask these questions, worried about fairness to biological women athletes, you get this answer from Ivy: you’re transphobic. A quote:
“This idea that transwomen are suddenly are going to take over women’s sports is an irrational fear of trans women, which is the dictionary definition of ‘transphobia.'”
But it’s not fear; it’s concern for “fairness.” Even trans women have argued that participation in women’s sports by people like Ivy is unfair to biological women.
Another talking point of Ivy’s is that “the practice of sport is a human right” and therefore denying her that practice is a violation of her rights. But she could compete against biological men or in a third category, and she would still be “practicing sport”. Of course there are problems of stigmatization if you form “other” leagues, but I believe fairness dictates a solution that doesn’t involve trans women who have gone through male puberty competing with biological females.
I normally would have more to say, but I’m still weirded out from duck rescue and you can listen for yourself. In my view, nearly everything that Ivy says below is debatable, misleading, or flat wrong. But give her a listen.