Trevor Noah discusses transexual women in sports with trans athlete Veronica Ivy

July 3, 2022 • 1:00 pm

Here’s a 13½-minute discussion between Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, and Veronica Ivy, a transwoman who won championships in cycling in women’s senior leagues. Wikipedia says this:

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.

h/t: José

75 thoughts on “Trevor Noah discusses transexual women in sports with trans athlete Veronica Ivy

  1. Regarding “phobia.”

    Clearly, this concept is “a fear of.” That has been the meaning in medicine and literature from the start. The condition of fearing irrationally was isolated as “a thing,” and the word “phobia” was attached to the definition. It is a specific clinical condition. “Aversion or dislike” was not part of the inducted meaning of this concept.

    Recently, Woke has colonized the word. They have gotten dictionaries, including OED, to add a secondary connotation (masquerading as ‘one of two’ primary denotations) as follows:

    Cambridge Dictionary:
    “… an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that is not reasonable”
    1) an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, situation, or person that manifests in physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, and that motivates avoidance behavior.
    2) an aversion toward, dislike of, or disrespect for a thing, idea, person, or group.

    The Free Dictionary:
    1. A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.
    2. A strong fear, dislike, or aversion.

    1: exaggerated fear of
    2: intolerance or aversion for

    This is a slick, cynical strategy. Any time Woke flings “you are transphobic” or “you are homophobic” simply because a request for information or a rational challenge has been proffered, and one’s response is “I am not afraid of trans or homosexuality,” they are trained to smash back with “you have an irrational bigoted negative emotion and judgment toward trans people, so you are transphobic. Look it up, it means “irrational aversion or dislike. Intolerance.”

    Woke has weaponized “phobic” and continuously expands the justification for launching smart weapons of destruction in its name.

    Ayn Rand’s name for this tactic is: “The Stolen Concept.” It is a deliberate vicious perversion of language for manipulative purpose.

    1. Of course the woke “advance guard” was the term “Islamophobia”, which quite deliberately conflated criticism of a religion with bigotry towards adherents, in a deliberate attempt to disallow criticism of that religion.

      1. At which time time in response one should unleash a tsunami of incontrovertible, undeniable examples of Islamofascism.

      2. “Transphobic” is used in the same way – criticism of gender ideology and transactivism is conflated with negative feelings about trans people themselves.
        Some of the critics do have a dislike of trans people, and some don’t.
        If one is critical of the strange and illogical assertions made in the name of trans rights, it becomes difficult not to regard individual trans people negatively, since they probably believe these illogical assertions – “transwomen are women”, etc. – since they have conquered so much of our society, politics, and academia, and many have come to see it as shameful not to agree.
        But not all trans people do agree with those things, and minus the ideology it seems intriguing to medically or surgically give oneself some characteristics of the opposite sex. We have a novel kind of artificially created intersex people around.

    2. Yes, but on the other hand, these dictionaries are just being descriptive of current language usage. If people generally employ, e.g., “homophobic” in the meaning “to dislike homosexuals/homosexuality”, then the dictionaries are obliged to enter this usage in their pages. Of course, linguistically it is not uncommon, indeed it is the norm, for words’ meanings to shift in this and similar ways. The etymology of a word is quite often rather divorced from its contemporary usage.

      1. “…are just being descriptive of current language usage.” True, under philosophical anarchy and intellectual propaganda power warfare. And in which a few slick “people” deliberately despoil it for political guerilla combat.

        Alternatively, a concept has an objective meaning — that for which it was originally derived by induction the moment prior to having the word-symbol attached to it. Per this view, no one is “obliged” to surrender to intellectual vandals out to steal.

    3. I have thought along similar lines, especially, as Coel points out, concerning the word “Islamophobia,” which caused me to scratch my head when I first heard it. I understand that it probably derived from homophobia, which, as you allude to, is a valid medical term. Alas, I chalk this field of linguistic weeds up to the woeful lack of study of Greek and Latin, even among lawyers and medical doctors these days. IMO, the prefix that is appropriate and should be used instead of “phobia” is “mis-,” from the Greek μῖσος, hatred. Examples of the proper use of mis- are misanthropy and misogyny. This, instead of Islamophobia, misIslamism, and instead of transphobia, mistransgenderism, or, to be pure Greek and not mixed with Latin, mismetagenosism. 🥴 I realize that these neologisms are awkward looking, but they are nonetheless more semantically correct.👨‍🏫

      1. On what basis is “homophobia” a “valid medical term?” What/when is the first usage? Wouldn’t ‘homophobia” translate to “fear of mankind?” If you can show it is/was a valid medical term, did it contain the slapped-on secondary sub-aspect of “dislike” instead of simply “fear of homosexuality” at the moment the term was coined?

        I agree with your argument for the mis- prefix. It would have been accurate and fair. However, Woke scoffs at “fair” and “accurate” as naïve bourgeois conceits.

        1. First, please don’t confuse the Latin with the Greek. You are correct that “homo” means “human” in Latin, but in the word we are considering, “homo-” is a Greek prefix meaning “same.” Thus, homophobia translates as “fear of same,” with the implication of fear of sexual attraction to the same sex. That meaning is the basis of its psychological usage, to wit, that a homosexual person is in denial about his homosexuality and so is afraid of both his own sexual desire and other homosexuals. As far as its origin, it was coined by Sigmund Freud, but since Freudian depth psychology has been largely discredited, the term morphed into its present usage. I don’t have time to do an exhaustive search for its origin, but I do remember hearing the term for the first time decades ago, used by a gay friend of mine who was describing a priest who railed against homosexuality but who was himself gay. A quick Google search brought me this, which addresses the original meaning and which I hope you find helpful:

          1. Interesting. I did not know that “homo” in homosexual is taken from the Greek for ‘same’. I presumed it meant ‘a man attracted/aroused by a man.’ I will educate myself. Thanks. Because I thought it referred to “man,” I’ve always wondered how a woman who is Lesbian could sometimes be called ‘homosexual,’ and occasionally corrected someone! No one ever countered with the information you just provided.

            However, this 1) improves the case that to convey ‘aversion to or strong dislike,’ “mis-” would be a better prefix; and 2) is beside the point of “phobia” being destroyed by Woke when they added a secondary connotation of “dislike.”

          2. Add: ironic that the “-sexual” component is from the Latin! This has led to the Havelock Ellis comment that ‘Homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word.”

            Not to mention confusing three ways from Sunday.


            I like his suggestion of the term “Homogenic.”

    4. The official (Stonewall) definition of “transphobia” is “ The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.” That last part in bold thus classifies all legitimate philosophical or political attempts to critique Gender Identity doctrine as a form of mental illness. Are trans-identified males a kind of woman — or a kind of man? Even asking the question is transphobic. It is known.

      Answering it by concluding that women are the female reproductive class, and not a socially-constructed, ill-defined, sexist bundle of proper ways to be-and-do- like-a-woman-would is now being called an entry point to modern fascism by the only civil rights movement to force members of a dominant class into a subordinate one and forbid the latter to object.

      Note that VI keeps repeating that they’re “female,” supporting this point by using what any philosophy professor would use: documents which were changed to accommodate their indescribable inner feminine essence. The goalposts keep moving. First, they’re of the male SEX but the woman GENDER. Now they’re female, too.

      Soon it will be transphobic even to refer to them as “trans” and the term “transphobia” will itself become transphobic.

      1. “…That last part in bold thus classifies all legitimate philosophical or political attempts to critique Gender Identity doctrine as a form of mental illness.”

        According to the intolerant gender ideologues, there is no such thing as a legitimate critique of postmodern gender theory! For instance, they are convinced that asserting that transwomen aren’t women isn’t only false but also immoral. They regard it as an “illegitimate opinion”; and their next step is to demand that it be made illegal to utter it publicly in oral or written form.

    5. The “phobia” suffixes may be misnomers as to some when used in words such as “homophobia”, “transphobia”, and “Islamophobia”. But it would helpful to have in their place one-word terms for those who would deny gay-, trans-, and Muslim-Americans full and equal rights under law.

      (Also, I’m not sure people ought to be taking usage tips from Ayn Rand, given that she was one of the more leaden prose stylists ever to burden the English language. And, as for “the stolen concept,” Rand stole some of her own, including from Nietzsche, then covered her tracks in her early writings to hide the influence.)

  2. Anyone who lies about their biological sex is lying about the fundamental basis of all life. When they demand that their self delusion must be acknowledged and bought into by everyone else – effectively demanding everyone else lies – that renders that person someone whose opinions can be dismissed as lies.

    Ivy is not a particularly nice person having declared that anyone who points out the lies he utters can “die in a grease fire”.

    He may have been able to compete in Women’s category due to the “rules” but that simply reflects his disdain and contempt for Women. If he had a shred of decency he would not have imposed his very male body into Women’s cycling category.

    He knows he has a full advantage over women. Even in the unfit state he now is (compared to his male colleagues) he can beat the fittest, strongest elite female cyclist – because he is male.

    I understand you may want to be protecting yourself by referring to Mr Ivy as a “she” but really, all you are doing is buying into and tacitly being complicit in his lie.

    It is insulting to women who work hard to get to the standard needed to compete in cycling. It is insulting to other men who work very hard to get to their standard. Both sexes are seeing this male “winning” when he should not be.

    He is a liar and a cheat and should not be platformed in this way.

    1. Please be more civil in your posts rather than this heated. You may not want to call Ivy a “she”, but it is an insult to call her a “he”. Please read the Roolz in the left sidebar before posting again. You can make the identical argument you just did, but in more civil language. And if someone wants to be called a “she”, humor them by doing so, please, even if you say that you don’t accept Ivy as a woman.

      1. And if someone wants to be called a “she”, humor them by doing so, please, even if you say that you don’t accept Ivy as a woman.

        I used Veronica Ivy’s desired pronouns in my post at #5, but admit that I find that I am increasingly less willing to do so in cases like this. With all due respect, given that sex in human beings is real and immutable, using female pronouns for people born as male only serves to encourage their delusion and signal one’s own complicity in / submission to their world view.

        Being asked to use someone’s preferred pronouns even though you are aware that they don’t match those used for their biological sex is presented as an act of simple politeness, but in reality it is an insidious slippery slope. Once you’ve called someone “she” and “her” it becomes more difficult to deny that they are a “woman” and therefore to limit their access to women’s spaces and sports, etc. I wouldn’t play along with someone’s religious beliefs to this extent, for instance (although I would respect their right to hold them, of course).

        There’s an interesting post on this issue here:

        1. To add to this response.

          When using 3rd person pronouns (that are in most languages, based in observable reality of a person), they are mostly used in the absence of the person being spoken about/referred to.

          Do we think then that it is right, in a democratic, science/biology respecting society, that we should be dictated to in our thought and speech to *deny* the truth we see?

          Demanding individuals speak of others as those others demand *even in their absence*, is compelled speech. Social punishment for not complying is bullying. State sanctions as is happening in some countries (eg you are arrested and criminalised for saying the *truth* about a person) is totalitarian regime in action.

          Putin has been compelling his people to not say there is a war on. We all condemn this. Why? Because it is compelled speech. It is not democratic. It infringes on human rights.

          George Orwell’s “1984” was a warning, not a handbook for society to follow. “Newspeak” is not a good thing to copy.

          STROOP EFFECT:
          Being expected, pressured, forced to say opposite sex “pronouns” is a Stroop Effect: being told to SAY the word Green whenever one sees the colour Red.

          It is worth looking at these articles on the issue of use of pronouns.

      2. This is a disappointing response, Mr. Coyne. It’s an “insult” to call a transgender-identified man ‘he,’ only in the same way it’s an “insult” when we refuse to address Warren Jeffs as ‘The Prophet.’ Warren Jeffs isn’t a prophet, even if he thinks he is, even if members of his cult like to consider him a prophet and feel insulted when we say otherwise. Veronica Ivy isn’t a ‘she,’ even if Veronica Ivy likes to identify as one, even if members of Veronica Ivy’s cult feel insulted when we speak the truth: This is a man, not a woman. What’s your rationale for pandering to this irrational ideology? I’m genuinely curious.

        1. You know what? I’m going to ban you. Your comment is rude, and my response would be “simple civility to Ivy”. But you have to get all over me, say I’ve disappointed you, and that I’m “pandering”. You should know that my many critiques of trans activism have not been pandering.

          Now get your tuchas off my website. You can disagree with me without being rude to me. Didn’t read the Roolz, did you, newbie?

      3. I use “they” for trans people who have been medically or surgically altered so they have some characteristics of the opposite sex.
        Using the pronouns for the opposite sex would be misrepresenting reality as what they want to believe it is.
        But using pronouns for their birth sex would also misrepresent reality, especially if they’ve changed their bodies a lot. Taking cross-sex hormones has powerful effects on someone’s body and mind. So can surgery. They’ve become a kind of medically or surgically generated intersex, and gone to a lot of trouble and pain to do it, and it would be appropriate to recognize their efforts.
        So it would be appropriate to use some kind of gender-neutral pronouns for them.
        If a trans person hasn’t been modified this way, and they still want people to use opposite-sex pronouns for them, it amounts to asking others to help them maintain a fiction.
        Suppose someone is a victim of severe Dunning-Kruger effect, and they feel they’re much wiser and more astute that they are, and having this self-concept is very important to them, and it would distress them to realize they aren’t actually wise.
        Would it be required by politeness to express admiration of their sagacity, without actually meaning it? That’s similar.

    2. ‘Ivy is not a particularly nice person having declared that anyone who points out the lies he utters can “die in a grease fire”.’

      How sweet of Ivy to say that. Do women have some kind of duty to compete against him (her?) and like it?

      If Ivy posted the above in this site’s comments section, would it be against Da Roolz?

    3. Unless becoming a transwoman is comparable to the witness protection program— new name, new identity, the old you never existed, I would think comments she made when she was he, should still be allowed to be attributed to him.

      In her case, twice, as Rachel McKinnon changed her name to Veronica Ivy after her life-partner was arrested for trying to solicit a minor.

  3. I take this occasion to repeat my own self-identification. Although I was assigned at birth to the species of Homo sapiens, I realized early on that I had been born in the wrong body. In my innermost soul, I realized that I was really a giant sloth Lemur, or Archaeoindris fontoynontii. The rest us went extinct
    roughly 1800 years ago, but as I insist, a trans-Archaeoindris fontoynontii is a Archaeoindris fontoynontii. Therefore, we are not quite extinct. It is only trans-lemur-phobes who will deny my claim that because of me, we should be moved from the extinct to the “critically endangered” category.

    1. Species is determined by biological factors, such as genetic similarity and the ability to produce offspring, while gender is a collection of socially constructed beliefs and expectations based on one’s biological sex. The two are not equivalent in the way you attempt to make them in this comment. Since gender concerns identity and presentation, one can discover that their identity does not align with the gender role they were ‘assigned’ to and change their gender. You can’t become a different species through identifying with one, though I guess you could be a furry and create a fursona based on a giant sloth lemur. Not the same, though.

      Also, I am not sure how this comment contributes to the discussion at all. Is it making a point about trans athletes in women’s sports that I am missing, or are you simply trying to mock trans people?

      1. As Oliver points out in comments #7 an 8 below, postmodern gender theory asserts that “there is no sex/gender distinction, there is only gender.” Since biological sex is determined by the X and Y
        chromosomes (and their phenotypic interaction with a few somatic gene products), simple extrapolation of this view to all chromosomes and their gene products gives us post-modern species theory—by which a trans-lemur is a lemur. It remains only for departments of post-modern species theory to be set up in academia, perhaps with the aid of DEI committees and administrative officials.

        1. I’m not here to defend a position I don’t agree with (in this case, the version of postmodern gender theory which Holly Lawford-Smith outlines). This feels like a false dichotomy; either one believes that biological sex isn’t real, or one believes that trans people are deluded or lying about their gender identity. I would reject both of those premises.

      2. Since gender concerns identity and presentation, one can discover that their identity does not align with the gender role they were ‘assigned’ to and change their gender.

        But here you seem to have conflated sex & gender. If a female, say, discovers that the way she thinks of herself doesn’t align with the gendered beliefs and expectations her society has for a woman, changing her “gender” would involve keeping true to the way she thinks and behaves — she rejects their gender expectations, and substitutes her own. A gender-nonconforming woman creates her own different idea or role of how a woman thinks and behaves.

        The alternative is for her to cave to social messages and agree she’s not a woman, but a man who now follows the gender roles assigned to the sexes. That’s a sex change.

        1. That’s not changing biological sex; that’s being a trans man. Gender is what is being changed, not sex, though some sexual characteristics may be altered depending on the transition.

          A gender non-conforming woman still identifies as a woman; she just rejects at least some of the assumptions made about her due to her gender. This is different from not identifying as a woman.

          1. Yes, that’s what they’re saying. But examine the concepts.

            Sex is not “assigned” at birth; it’s observed. A female baby is a girl baby.
            “Gender” is assigned by culture when the infant girl is dressed in a frilly pink outfit with ‘Lil Princess’ embroidered on the front.

            If the female changes gender, she swaps the ruffles for dungarees: personality & presentation not conventionally feminine.

            If the female insists she’s actually a boy, that’s swapping sex.

          2. “If the female insists she’s actually a boy, that’s swapping sex.”

            No. Humans cannot change or swap sex. It’s set at conception and is the same until you become dust.

            You are conflating sex and gender, they are very different things.

          3. It’s an (unsuccessful) attempt to swap sex.
            I’m trying to carefully separate sex & gender.

      3. Sex is, in mammals st least, determined by biological factors, such as gene’s and the ability to produce offspring. I think Jon’s rhetorical argument stands.

      4. Gender as you used it is a term co-opted from linguistics. The sociological branch is completely made up. Indeed, I have no doubt it will have a different definition by this time next year. Since it is an artificial and nebulous word, it would not be such a logical stretch to draw the analogy above.

        1. Gender, at least as I use the word, refers to the social beliefs and expectations made about individuals based on their biological sex. Gender roles definitely do change between different time periods and different cultures, and they typically make stereotypical and false claims about males and females. In that sense, you can say they are ‘made up’. However, that does not mean they have no impact. It would be like saying we could ignore the effects of Christianity in modern America since the tenets of Christianity are false.

          The concepts of ‘cis’, ‘trans’, and ‘non-binary’ exist within a context of binary gender roles (man and woman). If gender didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have these concepts; people would just express their identities as they wish, and sex would be reserved for biological and medical purposes. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a setting.

          1. The primary problem with this position is that you’re still trying to do two things at once.
            You referred to a female who doesn’t want to conform to the roles and expectations of the society as a trans man. But that seems to me to reinforce potentially sexist gender roles. If we presume, as you seem to, that gender roles are the roles expected to be played by male and female humans that correspond to their sex by reinforcing the importance of gender roles don’t we reinforce any underlying sexism that limits what males and females are to do while being seen as normal?

            I’ve always had a problem with the idea that we should be reinforcing gender as important and a meaningful part of identity.

            Gender roles change and, ideally, are reduced in importance. Where any difference in roles and expectations arise they should do so only due to real physical differences… anything beyond that seems likely to perpetuate sexist expectations.

          2. The more I think about it the less I like the concept of keeping gender around. Relating to what you described earlier (when referring not performing societally defined gender roles is transgender), if merely performing some subset of behaviours is enough to get oneself sorted into a particular class of male/female then it is too loose and fluid to be meaningful across time.

            If we attempt to define gender as a bimodal distribution of behavioural traits (loosely linked to sex) and that performing those traits sorts one into a more likely a man, or more likely a woman category then the concept would not be expected to be stable across a lifetime nor even a decade (due to how quickly roles are changing).

            As we have advanced morally the set of behavioural traits which are associated with one group or another has diminished, what we define as women roles and mens roles now overlap almost completely. As an aside: I suspect that the importance of gender roles is more important lower down the socioeconomic ladder and that is an interesting area of research but it doesn’t mean it is a morally good goal to reach for.
            How could you possibly define gender so that the definition has enough stability to have meaning for an individual’s identity? If we start to say that a person who takes on and acts out womanly traits is a woman is that not taking us backwards? Is there a certain percentage of traits assigned to each clump?? What percentage of behaviour must a person take before they switch categories? How do you deal with the fact that as we advance morally more and more behaviours are moving to the middle and the distribution is flattening?

            In my opinion gender as a social constructed set of behaviours that define ones womanliness or manliness is one we should destroy, not keep around.
            We should continue to strive for a whole in which the choices of behaviour a person chooses to follow don’t sort them into classes of person.

          3. Referring to your previous reply to my comment, I don’t think that a female who doesn’t want to conform to the sociocultural roles and expectations of women is necessarily a trans man. Other possibilities are that they could be gender non-conforming or non-binary. A female who identifies as a man is a trans man.

            I agree that gender roles should be abolished. People should be free to express their identities as they wish, while sex should be referred to for biological and medical purposes. But in such a world, people would be more free to use hormone replacement therapy, or gender reassignment surgery (which would have to be re-named), or other procedures which currently fall under ‘transitioning’ to express their identities. So, in a sense, trans advocacy represents an intermediate stage in the breakdown of gender roles. We still need to work within the context of gender roles, since they are all-pervasive and not about to be abolished anytime soon, but we can at least work to remove the belief that one’s biological sex defines one’s gender role. That is a step forward.

          4. “Referring to your previous reply to my comment, I don’t think that a female who doesn’t want to conform to the sociocultural roles and expectations of women is necessarily a trans man. Other possibilities are that they could be gender non-conforming or non-binary. A female who identifies as a man is a trans man.”

            Why though? What positive benefit do we have by introducing the concept of gender non-conforming? If this person just. continued to call herself a woman would that not better help stretch the bounds of what is socially normal?

            I disagree with the notion that transgender is a useful transition phase away from gender roles. I think generally encouraging males and females to break out of the roles assigned to them by their sex was working well without the new concept of a gender role being added on top.

            We don’t all work within the concept of gender roles, especially in academia and other highly technical environments. There are plenty of businesses/environments where gender roles have already fallen away and it is only a reintroduction of their these concepts that is trying to make them meaningful again.

          5. You misunderstand my point.

            When I say “made up”, I mean the association between the term “gender” and “the social beliefs and expectations made about individuals based on their biological sex”, but more relevant to this discussion, “gender identity”. This connection is in fact “made up”: it is a purely academic concoction. What before was a innocuous but erroneous conflation between “gender” and “sex” has taken tangible, artificial roots today. Especially when we differentiate “gender identity” from “biological sex” — which is a recent development with neither etymological nor historical bases.

            Originally, “gender” was a grammatical concept. As examples, in contemporary English, we have gendered pronouns (he, she, it). In French and Spanish, gendered pronouns and nouns (le chien, la religión). In Slavic languages and Old English, we have the addition of gendered cases (včera studovala).

            Given that the sociological definition of “gender” is manufactured, fluid, and ambiguous, I disagree that Jon’s analogy above presents a false dichotomy.

  4. In her previous incarnation as Rachel McKinnon, Veronica Ivy tweeted that gender critical feminists (expressed less politely) should “die in a grease fire”, then tried to weasel out of a Twitter ban by saying she didn’t mean it:

    I would take her claims of death threats from feminists with a huge pile of salt, although if true that is reprehensible of course.

    Ivy’s seemingly wilful ignorance of the advantages of males competing against females is risible.

    1. Noah was rebuked soundly on twitter by those who criticized him for not calling her out on these assertions: she’s a biological woman, ‘men who ‘identify’ as women are the same as intersex people’, and this— comparing herself to ‘black people who’ve experienced racism.’

      To the black host of the show. Looked like transactivist privilege to me.

  5. Interesting to me that most of the pushback, and accusations of “transphobia” come from trans women, not trans men. And often it’s directed against those like Martina Navratilova, who have done so much to push for equity in women’s sports, women’s rights, and gay rights, then get vilified as that new TERm. Seems closer to the misogynist patriarchy of old, rather than a new frontier of inclusiveness. But then what do I know, as an old, white, cis-, hetero-, male?

    1. But then what do I know, as an old, white, cis-, hetero-, male?

      Change the “cis-” to “trans” and you can call yourself a lesbian these days, CR That’s probably a reason why real lesbians like Martina Navratilova, Allison Bailey, Jo Phoenix, Kathleen Stock, Julie Bindel et al. are prominently in the firing line right now.

      1. Sorry, I realise that my list is very Brit-centric:

        Allison Bailey is a black lesbian barrister whose employment tribunal case brought against her chambers for discrimination recently finished and we’re awaiting the outcome. She crowdfunded more than £530,000 to bring the case, most of it in small donations averaging £50.

        Jo Phoenix is a professor of criminology who claims she was bullied out of her position with the Open University for her protected gender critical beliefs; her employment tribunal case begins in October. Like Allison Bailey, she was raped as a young woman and faced her attacker in court. She risks losing her house if she doesn’t win her case, but has crowdfunded her legal costs in small individual donations so far.

        Kathleen Stock is a professor of philosophy who was similarly forced out of her job at Sussex University after a prolonged campaign by trans rights activists (her book Material Girls on the sudden rise in transgender teenage girls is very good).

        Julie Bindel has campaigned for four decades on issues surrounding sexual violence against women and girls (she was instrumental in getting rape inside marriage criminalised in the UK). Just last week, she had a speech in a library operated by Nottingham City Council cancelled as the result of trans rights activists claiming that she is transphobic. She isn’t, but she is a determined fighter for women’s rights to single-sex services and facilities. The cancellation seems a pretty clear breach of her protected gender critical beliefs and she, too, is now crowd funding her legal costs. She had raised over £35,000 in a couple of days when I last looked yesterday evening.

    2. Trans men competing in sports against biological males raises no fairness or safety issue. That is why the debate is all about whether trans women should be allowed to compete against biological females. Radical trans activists also have been described as a men’s rights movement because radical trans women activists (who are biologically female) want to get rid of biological-female-only spaces.

      The Oxford University sociologist Michael Biggs had an interesting article touching on this in Quillette, August 1, 2019, entitled “How Feminism Paved the Way for Transgenderism.”

  6. Veronica Ivy is one of the dogmatic adherents of postmodern (antibiological) gender theory with its radical identity politics (as described below). Those who reject it (for philosophical or scientific reasons) are vilified by them as transphobic monsters.

    “/Gender as identity/. There is no sex/gender distinction, there is only gender. Sex, the idea that humans can be sorted into two biological types, male and female, is an outdated concept. Sex is a spectrum; or there are many different sexes; or there is really no such thing as sex, just a set of bad ideas imposed onto arbitrary features of bodies. Whatever sex is or was, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is gender, in particular, gender understood as /identity/. Every human person has a gender identity, at minimum ‘man’, ‘woman’, or ‘nonbinary’. This new way of sorting people into categories supersedes sex, but takes over the role that sex used to play, for example as the basis of romantic and sexual attractions between people, or as the trait determining which social spaces can be appropriately used. According to this view, transwomen are women, transmen are men, and nonbinary people are neither women nor men. A transwoman belongs on a women’s sports team, or in a women’s prison, or in a women’s domestic violence refuge. Same-sex attractions are ‘transphobic’. Women-centred language is ‘exclusionary’ if it refers to biological traits. Wearing pussy hats and t-shirts with uteruses printed on them to the women’s march is bad; it suggests a connection between women and vulvas, women and uteruses. But some men have
    vulvas and uteruses (transmen), and some women don’t (transwomen).”

    (Lawford-Smith, Holly. Gender-Critical Feminism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022. p. x)

  7. By the way, here’s a recent example of postmodern gender theory “at work”:

    “The Humboldt University in Berlin has canceled a lecture by biologist Marie Luise Vollbrecht that was planned as part of the “Long Night of Science”. This Sunday afternoon she wanted to show that there are only two genders in biology. The left-wing group “Working Group of Critical Lawyers” called for a counter-demonstration. According to a statement by the group, Vollbrecht’s “thesis” is “unscientific, inhuman and hostile to queer and trans*”. The fact that the Humboldt University offers a stage to a “well-known trans* hostile speaker is scandalous,” according to the appeal. “There is no place for queer hostility at our university. See you on the street!”, writes the “working group” on Twitter. The university then canceled the lecture, for security reasons, it is said.”


    Shame on the university management! Alexander von Humboldt would spin in his grave if he knew what has been going on at the university named after him!

    1. It’s a shitty time to be a woman at the moment. I often feel scared and/or depressed by the activities of both of those extreme ends of the political spectrum.

  8. I give him credit for trying to have a dialogue about the issue. Maybe I am asking too much, but why could he not just ask her questions rather than to keep saying “Some people would argue that…”

    What about the statement she made about some number of elite male athletes (I forget the number she threw out) having testosterone level below that of many females. Is that true?

    1. No, it is not true there are many male athletes with lower testosterone levels than females. There is virtually no overlap.

  9. Whenever anyone demands that something cannot be questioned, it’s unlikely they’ll get their way with most people (unless of course it’s an established religion).

    There is too much statistical data, along with biological facts, that disprove any claim that someone with a male anatomy doesn’t have a physical advantage over someone with a female anatomy, assuming both are at their peak fitness level. This will remain obvious to the majority of the population, who are simply not going to accept any claims that there’s no such thing as binary sexes in humans. And it’s not surprising that she won her competitions against cis females.

    She can do all the talk shows she wants, but I don’t think most people will be sympathetic, even among many who are otherwise fine with her gender identity.

  10. No Ivy, you are not a biological women, that contention is false.
    Although I do think these testosterone levels are not a good criterion for determining whether a transwoman or intersex person should be allowed to compete in women’s events (the presence or not of a SRY-gene would be a much simpler one), her/his contention there is a large overlap in levels in males and females (biological ones) is simply not true. A lie, in other words.
    On a different note, why are nearly all aggressive trans advocates trans’women’ and rarely -if ever- trans’men’? Dare I say QED here?

    1. The gene test has problems, as well. Apparently, there can be alternate options to XX or XY. Better to take all factors into account, organs, physiology, hormones, dna, and especially “which gamete do you produce?”

      The bright line ought to simply be: “which sex are you.” there is not one case of a human, as far as I know, the produces both ova and sperm.

      1. If you mean “intersex” that is a congenital chromosomal medical condition termed DSDs (Difference of sexual development). It doesn’t just affect the sexual organs/reproductive system Some can cause other health issues such as heart issues, kidney issues, learning difficulties. The conditions can often (not in all cases) cause infertility as well.

        Also the DSDs that are known are *sex specific*, thereby proving the binary of sex. The only reason extra letters are put on is to reference the chromosomes and to identify the type of DSD the individual has. Some DSDs are not obvious until puberty – though with modern testing now eg where a pregnant mother from 10 weeks gestation provides a blood sample, her sex chromosomes can be confirmed as can the foetus. If there was a DSD it could be confirmed then.

        So, the old method of checking a new born baby’s sex still works but can be confirmed if there was any ambiguity.

  11. Issues like this involving “sex” and chromosomes and gamete types have a particular interest for evolutionary biologists for whom “sex” does not necessarily mean “reproduction”. Lots of organisms reproduce without two gametes combining, or without a sex act (like selecting a mate, or copulating). Instead, for evolutionists, “sex” usually means “recombination”: taking the two genome copies in a diploid cell, duplicating the genomes, randomly distributing the parts (chromosomes) of each of the four genomes into one of four cells, transforming each of those haploid cells (with one genome copy) into a gamete, and then sending those gametes off to find another gamete to fuse with (with two genome copies in the new offspring). This is important for evolution because mutations during gamete formation plus the random recombination of parts of the two genomes leads to genetic variation among gametes and offspring. This is what natural selection acts on.

    There is some fun theory about why recombination in diploid organisms favours the evolution of exactly two different gamete types that often are produced by sexually dimorphic males and females. In principle, there could be dozens of different gamete types and dozens of different sexes (each with its own gender expression etc.). But that doesn’t happen in plants & animals. Instead we always see just two gamete types and two sexes. I don’t know that theory well but maybe Jerry could be persuaded to write a post about it some time.

  12. Testosterone levels are an indicator. Genitalia are as well. Gross observation of either can help one predict physical strength and endurance, but they are not themselves the reason for most of those differences.
    Skeletal geometry and bone strength are measurably different in each sex by the age of six, and are in turn indicative of muscle mass and strength. Lung volume and bronchioles are measurably different at birth and persist into adulthood.
    You can compare tendons, different affinities of hemoglobin for oxygen, storage of lipids, and very likely a vast number of little differences that seem to result in the persistant 10% difference in athletic ability.
    Hyper focusing on testosterone seems misguided.

  13. ‘Do you actually think that transwomen and intersex women are real women and are really female, or not?’

    Best be careful what you ask, Veronica! We may refer to you as ‘she’ and treat you as if you were a woman, but if you ask that question, everyone unafraid of losing their job will say “No!” The rest will just think it and avoid the question. You cannot trump biology. With exquisite hormones, skillful surgery, and perfect dress sense, I might look at you and think you look like an attractive woman, but you still won’t actually be one. It may not matter that all your cells carry the wrong sex chromosomes, and you may not care about your infertility and inability to enjoy your neo-vagina (sorry for being blunt), but I care about being forced to say things that are untrue, and this is an insuperable objection for me. I’ll be polite if I ever meet you, and hope I would not betray a flicker of my inward thoughts. But please don’t ask me to utter lies for you. I won’t lie for my own sake, so I shan’t for anyone else either. In the same vein, it might be best not to ask me whether I’m comfortable with you trouncing actual females on the cycling track. I might tell you that’s not sportsmanship, but cheating.

  14. Have you seen the twitter thread discussing women who believe in biology and know that ‘evolution is true’? Trans activists were saying what should happen to us. Pretty bad things. Then Ivy turned up and announced that he wanted more than that, he wanted women, ie me, to “die in a grease fire”.

    This is the sect that sent JK Rowling “I wish you a very nice pipebomb in mailbox [sic]”.

    Another said “All terfs should be shot in the head”. There is far, far worse. One wanted me to be raped with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire.

    This is all classic male pattern agression. I will not ascribe that aggression to women by referring to them as female.

    These rabid misogynists are only a subset of the trans community. There are transpeople who understand biology and for whom I will use their pronouns as I would a nickname, but respect works two ways. Ivy doesn’t ‘humour’ women by letting us have our own sport so why should women respect him with pronouns?

    Trans ideology is a religion and, to quote you, science and religion are incompatible.

    1. Yip. It seems that all the hormone supplements in the world can get rid of the ‘male privilege’ and fantasies of extreme and gendered sexual violence that so many of these people take with them when they “transition”. I’m happy to use people’s preferred pronouns but I have zero time for anyone who bullies others and displays the disgusting violence and misogyny that we see them use to attack any person (but mostly women) who don’t agree with them. I suspect they are doing more harm than good to the trans community.

      1. “attack any person (but mostly women)”

        Yes. It’s ironic that the people who physically attack TW are virtually always men. But it’s women who get the most vile insults simply for saying ‘no’ to having our rights to safety and dignity removed.

        It’s the same old patriarchy oppressing women. Just that now the patriarchy wears lipstick.

  15. “I think that we’re entering a period when the most meaningful political distinction will be fascist and anti-fascist. It’s really important to understand that transphobia is one of the most potent entry points to fascism today – and act accordingly.”
    Julia Carrie Wong of The Guardian

  16. Geez, people… even Ben Shapiro (who has very rigid views on trans issues and does not recognize one’s ability to transition at all) said he would use the preferred pronoun of a friend if asked politely. Why not exercise simple politeness? I have a few friends who are transwomen and although I sometimes slip up and use their former pronouns (out of habit) I do try and use the pronoun they prefer. And they are friends so they understand that people slip up.

    1. There’s a distinction between social situations involving people who identify as trans, and serious discussions about the topic of trans identities and doctrine. In the former it often makes sense to be polite. In the latter, it usually makes sense to use vocabulary which is clear and direct.

      1. Whatever one does for politeness with friends/coworkers is fine. But it’s just the he/she pronouns, it’s the current 78 other ones insisted on by trans activists:
        “He/She — Zie, Sie, Ey, Ve, Tey, E. Him/Her — Zim, Sie, Em, Ver, Ter, Em. His/Her — Zir, Hir, Eir, Vis, Tem, Eir. His/Hers — Zis, Hirs, Eirs, Vers, Ters, Eirs.”

        Clear and direct, it’s not.

    2. The operative word there being ‘friend’. I have trans friends for whom I use non sex based pronouns. Those friends know their sex and don’t pretend to have literally changed sex.

      But I will never use them for Ivy and his ilk because I have utter contempt for their misogyny and insistence that they are part of my sex class and should undress beside women and girls in changing rooms, sleep beside us in hospital wards and sit with women in rape counselling and domestic violence refuges.

      Most men respect women’s safety and dignity. Ironically many men who want to emulate women don’t respect us at all.

      Please don’t patronise women by saying we have to be polite and respect misogynists. We don’t.

  17. Ivy claims that trans-women are not only women, they are “female”. She says this at least twice during the interview, and her reasoning is… well… it is something else. Correct me if I’m wrong but she says something along the lines of “I’m biological and female, so I’m a biological female.” I mean… what? Trans activists like Ivy seem to inhabit an alternative universe in which material reality itself obeys their every whim.

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