FFRF unwisely battles for the right of transsexual women (medically treated or not) to compete in women’s sports

November 12, 2022 • 1:00 pm

I’ve always been a fan of and a member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). I am on their Honorary Board of Directors, and in 2011 received their “Emperor Has No Clothes Award”, which as they say is “reserved for public figures who take on the fabled role of the little child in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and ‘tell it like it is’—about religion.” I’ve was very honored with their recognition, and humbled to be added to the many people I admire who have also gotten the gold statue of the naked emperor—a statue made by the same company that makes the Oscars.

Lately, however, the FFRF has crept out of its bailiwick of enforcing separation of church from state, and is, like the ACLU and the SPLC, engaged in matters of social justice. Well, that’s their call, and I wouldn’t beef about it unless I thought they’ve undertaken campaigns that are unwise.

Well, the FFRF has, and has gone to ground on the same issue where the ACLU went astray: transgender issues in sports. I hasten to add again that I think that with almost no exceptions, transgender people should have all the rights, privileges, and moral status as cisgender folks. I’m happy to call them by their chosen sex, treat them as members of their chosen sex, and use their chosen pronouns.

The few exceptions, which I’ve written about in detail, include sports participation (particularly trans women competing against biological women), rape counseling, and inhabiting sex-segregated prisons. There are good reasons for these exceptions, and the reasons all involve fairness to biological women—fairness that can be abrogated by considering transsexual women as fully equivalent to biological women.

Now the FFRF, as shown by its new press release, has joined as amicus in a suit against Indiana public schools, with the plaintiffs arguing that a state law prohibiting transgender girls or women from competing against biological women in public-school sports is unconstitutional, violating Title IX. Title IX prevents schools that receive federal money from discriminating between the sexes in any school activity, including sports. Click to read the FFRF’s press release:

Excerpts from the above:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has signed on to an amicus brief challenging a new Indiana law that discriminates against transgender school athletes.

The National Women’s Law Center and its law firm partner, Hogan Lovells, have filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in A.M. v. Indianapolis in support of the plaintiff, a 10-year-old transgender girl who was kicked off her elementary school softball team after a sports ban targeting transgender girls and young women took effect in the summer of 2022. A.M. and her family, represented by the ACLU, won a preliminary district court injunction finding that the anti-trans ban on sports participation likely violates Title IX. The state of Indiana has appealed.

Indiana’s House Enrolled Act 1041, which was briefly in effect in July, forces Indiana public schools to bar any student from participating on a female sports team if the student is deemed to be “male, based on a student’s biological sex at birth in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology.” As the district court properly recognized, this type of sex discrimination violates both the text and the purpose of Title IX. It also contravenes the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Note that the law doesn’t prohibit transgender athletes from participating in sport, but prohibits transgender women, born as biological males, from participating on female sports teams.  The FFRF brief goes on:

The National Women’s Law Center brief that FFRF has signed on to highlights how inclusive school policies (such as the local Indianapolis policy displaced by an anti-trans statewide ban) are consistent with Title IX and a key part of creating gender equity in education. The inequities girls face in K-12 sports are not due to inclusion of transgender girls and women. The law will impact all women — not just women and girls who are transgender — and will be particularly harmful to Black and brown women and girls.

The Indiana law threatens opportunities for girls and women who seek to play school team sports, the National Women’s Law Center amicus brief emphasizes. “Banning certain students from sports teams, merely because of who they are, does not promote fairness or safety for cisgender girls; instead, exclusionary policies like those required by HEA 1041 only serve to harm transgender students, as well as cisgender women and girls who do not conform to sex stereotypes,” it states. Besides, appellants’ claimed concerns about maintaining the “fairness” and “safety” of girls’ sports rest on harmful and inaccurate sex stereotypes. Athletes come in all shapes, sizes and physiological makeups. These differences may be advantageous or disadvantageous based on their sport.

And the Indiana law creates a discriminatory ban that will harm women and girls who are transgender, as well as intersex and otherwise gender nonconforming, the brief maintains. “Participation in sports generally provides students with a supportive network and social status that can minimize feelings of difference and isolation, a benefit that is especially crucial for transgender student athletes because this can help to foster acceptance and positive peer relationships,” states the brief.

And they bring in race, although I’m not sure exactly why “women and girls of color” will suffer disproportionately, for transsexual women or girls of any color are barred from participating in women’s sports. Even if you take intersectionality into account, the Indiana law causes no disproportional harm that I can see to people of different ethnicities. The relevant FFRF bit:

Plus, women and girls of color will be disproportionately targeted and harmed by the new Indiana law. Exclusion of transgender women and girls has a far-reaching impact and can adversely affect other women and girls, as well. Black and brown girls and women — who are routinely targeted for not conforming to society’s expectations of white femininity — are particularly vulnerable to harm from the types of exclusionary policies the state of Indiana is asking the court to impose. Serena Williams is perhaps the most prominent woman of color to experience this policing but far from the only.

Like the ACLU, the FFRF has made this misstep on two grounds.

First, according to Biden’s new policies, any person who declares themselves to be of the sex different from their birth sex is officially deemed to have transitioned, regardless of whether they have received surgery or medical treatment. This means that if a biological male simply declares that he’s a female, the court must take his word for it and allow him to compete on girls’ or women’s sports teams.

And that brings us to the second issue: fairness to biological women who do sports. There is now sufficient data to show that once puberty has begun, biological males begin developing traits that give them performances superior to those of biological females in most sports: bone density, strength, muscle mass, and so on. And even transsexual women who take hormones that reduce testosterone still retain these traits for at least two to three years—and perhaps permanently. For data summarizing these differences, see here and here, and, as the NYT wrote in an article on the issue:

But peer reviewed studies show that even after testosterone suppression, top trans women retain a substantial edge when racing against top biological women. . .

. . .“Athletic performance depends on a lot of factors: access to coaches and nutritionists and technical skill,” Mr. Mosier said. “We are making broad generalizations about men being bigger, stronger, faster.”

Most scientists, however, view performance differences between elite male and female athletes as near immutable. The Israeli physicist Ira S. Hammerman in 2010 examined 82 events across six sports and found women’s world record times were 10 percent slower than those of men’s records.

“Activists conflate sex and gender in a way that is really confusing,” noted Dr. Carole Hooven, lecturer and co-director of undergraduate studies in human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. She wrote the book “T: The Story of Testosterone.” “There is a large performance gap between healthy normal populations of males and females, and that is driven by testosterone.”

The sprinter Allyson Felix won the most world championship medals in history. Her lifetime best in the 400 meters was 49.26 seconds; in 2018, 275 high school boys ran faster.

Now these differences begin with puberty, and, as the NYT say, are viewed as “near immutable” (some sports, like shooting, however, haven’t been tested, and may not show a difference). One might make a case that before puberty, biological men can compete against women, so maybe the ten-year-old trassexual girl kicked off the (presumably girls’) softball team has a case. But the Indiana law applies to all public schools serving children and adolescents up to age 18, and the issue of unfairness to biological women begins when a biological male starts puberty. One law cannot fit everyone nor be fair to everyone. (See all my posts on this issue here.)

This has been recognized now by several sports organizations, including the Olympics, which “used to require all women to have testosterone levels under 10 nanomoles per liter and transfeminine people to be on testosterone-supressing [sic] medication for at least a year.”  However, the Olympics have now rescinded that rule, and has basically bailed, leaving the guidelines for transsexual or intersexual athletes up to each sport. It’s a mess.

I’v proposed several solutions to this issue, all of which seem to allow both men and women to compete in sports without violating Title IX (one is an “other” category for transsexual athletes, intersexual athletes, and so on, while another is allowing both transsexual men and transsexual women to compete against biological men in an “open” category). These avoid the issue of forcing biological women to compete against biological men who have assumed the gender of women.

The issue is complex, and not nearly as simple as the FFRF, ACLU, and other trans advocates make out.  It is at once philosophical, moral, and above all biological. To say that “trans women are women” doesn’t hold true in the case of sports performance.

Now some people say this is a trivial issue. Why not let trans women compete on women’s teams? After all, there aren’t many transsexual women athletes. But the rate of sex transitioning has increased sharply in the last 12 years for both males and females aged 12-17, and the issue will not remain “trivial” for long. Further, even a single transsexual woman who wins a competition in women’s sports based on biological advantage gained at puberty creates a lot of unfairness for women (who generally keep silent lest they be called “transphobic”) while advantaging one person. To some extent that tilts the playing field that Title IX tried to level.

I’m not sure why organizations like the ACLU and FFRF are leaving their traditional bailiwicks to get involved in women’s sports, but I wouldn’t mind so much if the stands they took were sensible ones—at the very least based on what we know about the science of sex differences. But they aren’t: these new forays into sports reflect a progressive ideology that sounds good but creates more problems than it solves.  Fairness demands more data and, at present, the greatest care in dealing with the issue of allowing biological men who transition to compete against biological women. We already know enough, though, to declare without reservation that medically unmodified biological men who present as transsexual women should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports. And we know enough to hold off on lawsuits forcing biological women to compete against medically treated transsexual women until we have actual data showing that there is no athletic advantage accruing to the latter group during puberty.

You can see the full amicus brief here; I’ve put a few excerpts below (click to read).


Amici are gravely concerned about the harm H.E.A. 1041 will cause to many women and girls by banning all transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. H.E.A. 1041 rests on fundamentally inaccurate and harmful stereotypes regarding athleticism, biology, and gender, which particularly harm women and girls who are transgender or intersex4 and Black and brown girls, who are also likely to be targeted because of racial and gender stereotypes that they are less feminine than white girls. These stereotypes frequently result in girls being told outright that they are not, in fact, girls. Such gender policing has been used to scrutinize, demean, and exclude transgender and cisgender women athletes, including those who do not conform to sex stereotypes regarding “femininity.”

. . . Appellants wrongly suggest that H.E.A. 1041’s mandated discrimination against transgender women and girls is necessary to ensure equivalent athletic opportunities for cisgender women and girls under Title IX. In fact, enforcing laws like H.E.A. 1041, that discriminate against women and girls who are transgender and others perceived as not conforming to sex stereotypes, is itself a violation of Title IX. As the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in the Title VII case, Bostock v. Clayton County, a policy that discriminates on the basis of transgender status necessarily discriminates on the basis of sex.

Appellants rely on inaccurate sex stereotypes regarding supposed categorical physiological differences between cisgender and transgender women and girls to argue H.E.A. 1041 is necessary to protect athletic opportunities for cisgender girls. See Appellants’ Br. 2, 44-46. This narrative is false. Appellants cannot point to any evidence that allowing transgender girls to compete will curtail athletic opportunities for cisgender athletes. To the contrary, research indicates that in states where women and girls who are transgender are included in sports, participation for all women and girls remains steady or even increases..

. . . Transgender athletes likewise have a range of athletic skills, and are far from uniform in their bodies’ sizes or shapes. The assumption that transgender girls and women have categorical athletic advantages over cisgender girls and women is inaccurate and based on stereotypical gender norms around the types of bodies that are more athletic and the qualities connected with athleticism.

Here’s the bit on race and, apparently, intersectionality:

Exclusion of transgender women and girls has a far-reaching impact and can adversely affect other women and girls as well. Black and brown girls and women—routinely targeted for not conforming to society’s expectations of white femininity—are particularly vulnerable to harm from the types of exclusionary policies Appellants ask the Court to impose. When Black and brown women’s bodies fall outside of traditional notions of white femininity, they are subject to policing, discrimination, and harassment.

In the end, this kind of activism will completely efface the reason why men’s and women’s sports are separate.


Bonus: Dr. Phil talks about transsexual athletes with Carole Hooven, whom we met yesterday. And look at the screenshot at 1:14!

Dr. Phil used my website (but of course I got the figure from someone else):

59 thoughts on “FFRF unwisely battles for the right of transsexual women (medically treated or not) to compete in women’s sports

  1. Plus, women and girls of color will be disproportionately targeted and harmed by the new Indiana law.

    This sort of intersectionality is a clear indicator that the FFRF has gone woke. This is sad.

    “Banning certain students from sports teams, merely because of who they are, does not promote fairness or safety for cisgender girls; …

    I wonder if the FFRF would oppose banning 15-yr-olds from under-12 sports teams, “merely” because they are 15?

    Besides, appellants’ claimed concerns about maintaining the “fairness” and “safety” of girls’ sports rest on harmful and inaccurate sex stereotypes.

    So the idea that males tend to be bigger, stronger, faster and better at sports is merely a “harmful and inaccurate sex stereotype”, even though it’s supported by absolutely all evidence?

    Tell me, FFRF, why do you think that womens and mens sport is segregated in the first place? Can you answer that?

    I wonder how much interal discussion is currently going on within the FFRF, or whether they are, like the ACLU, now a write-off?

    1. What I would like to know is where the religious aspect is in this case. I had assumed that the “R” in FFRF defined their bailiwick; it isn’t clear to me why they are involved. If this case is impacted by religion, they should state that. Have I missed it?

      1. One hypothesis is that this is just laziness on the part of FFRF. They’ve become habitually opposed to conservative evangelical religion in the public square. Now instead of carefully thinking about other conservative evangelical ideas (like those involving gender), FFRF is just lazily opposed to conservatives as a tribe. I sure hope not – it would be a shame if FFRF was to come out against NASCAR (bc climate change) and barbecue (animal welfare, also climate change).

      2. I’m guessing that they’re noticing that laws supporting segregation of sport by sex (not gender) are generally being passed by Republicans, who tend to be religious. Hence they are concluding that the position that “biological sex is real and important” is merely a religious one, so want to oppose it.

        Either that or they’ve been captured by woke entryism, such that every issue, including church/state separation, needs to be subordinated to woke “social justice”.

      3. This is addressed, badly, in the FFRF press release: “As usual, there is a divide between white evangelical Protestants — who are least accepting of trans individuals — and religiously unaffiliated Americans, which is the only group by religious identification (including 71 percent of atheists and 65 percent of agnostics) that feels society isn’t accepting enough of people who are transgender.

        “We clearly see that these discriminatory laws are driven by religious ideology,” comments Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.”

        I have stopped my support of FFRF, and told them why.

      4. Objections to Gay Rights come almost exclusively from religious/spiritual views regarding homosexuality being a “sin” and against God and Nature. Most advocates for Trans Rights seem to consider sexual orientation (who you’re sexually and romantically attracted to) and transgender identity (which internal sex (gender identity) you are) as so similar that those who have any disagreement with the latter also do so because of either acknowledged or covert religious or spiritual views.

      5. This kind of belief in something (lack of physical sex differences) despite both no evidence for it being true, and plenty of evidence that it is false IS a religious belief.

    2. I am trying to get FFRF to interview Helen Joyce , an atheist , who has a totally different opinion on the whole transgender issue . Helen Joyce has indicated that she is open to doing this . Would other people please contact FFRF and ask them to have an interview with Helen Joyce . What happened to free thinking at FFRF ? Does not the extreme transgender idiology appear to be a religion which is based on faith and cannot be analyzed scientifically ?

  2. FFRF should stick to religious issues, not scientific ones. I am truly shocked at its intervention in this issue. I am going to reconsider my support for them. They dont know the first thing about this issue. They ignore the science of sex and reproductive organs. They have gone off on some bizarre trip of which they know nothing.

  3. This series of facebook and twitter posts about the Boston Marathon shows one way in which a third category for nonbinary folx may not be a good solution: trans men and their allies recognize that they won’t be competitive against trans women, and that two nonbinary categories are needed in order to have “a more level playing field”.

    Could be a troll? It’s so hard to tell these days.


  4. “…if a biological male simply declares that he’s a female, the court must take his word for it and allow him to compete on girls’ or women’s sports teams.” Based on this precedent,
    I plan to declare that I am a Border Collie, so as to enter the Texas 4H Dog Competition. I expect to do particularly well on the 15-point Vocabulary trial (“Dog may demonstrate its understanding of a vocabulary beyond standard obedience and competition and/or hunting commands”), although I might have a little difficulty with the Push With Nose and Leap Through Hoop matches.

    1. It’s a pity that so many educated people excel at leaping through whatever hoops the woke crowd puts in front of their noses–especially if they anticipate a pat-on-the-head and a treat on the other side.

  5. The FRFF wants to change one discriminatory sports league (i.e. bio-female-only) to a different form of a discriminatory sports league (social-female-only). I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who supports discriminatory leagues in the first place. One of these days, we’ll have desegregated sports.

    1. If we were to desegregate sports by sex, females would be almost completely driven out of any competitive sport where strength, etc. matter. There could still be some in a few sports where male physical advantages have little relevance, but there aren’t many of those. The difference is just too great, with high school boys outperforming Olympic class female athletes. Then there is the issue of safety in team sports. Males that have gone through puberty are stronger and on average larger than females. Sex segregation in sports is there for a valid reason.

      1. If we were to desegregate sports by sex, females would be almost completely driven out of any competitive sport where strength, etc. matter.

        And if we were to desegregate sports by height, short humans would be almost completely driven out of any competitive sport where height, etc. matters.

        *shrug* C’est la vie. Either we take all humans on their relative merits, or we engage in PC/wokeist protectionism of various classes. As much as I enjoy the community on this site, I’m always surprised that this is the one topic where vocal participants support woke segregation. Whether it is bio-females or social-females is irrelevant; segregation is segregation.

        1. Your “shrug” is the death knell of women’s sports, and you don’t give a damn. The height argument fails because there are many sports in which short humans do as well as taller ones (I guess you’re thinking of basketball). Same for eye and hair color. Keeping women able to compete in sports is not a “PC/wokeist” attitude.

          You’ve made this argument over and over again and it fails. You want one sports league, which would wind up all men. Women wouldn’t have the chance to compete. That’s ludicrous, and it also evinces an attitude uncaring of women’s aspirations. Were I you, given that you keep making this point and nobody accepts it, I’d leave it alone.

    2. Linguist, I’d like to get inside your argument. You have stated your objection to women-only sports leagues many times, citing only your opposition to “discrimination”, as here. Yet you never answer the rebuttal that excluding men from most women’s sports serves a valid social purpose in that women would not have a venue to compete without that exclusion. All you ever do is restate your objection to discrimination, as if that should carry the day, and maybe it does for you but not for me. So let me ask you. What is it about women’s sport that makes you want to destroy it?

      I don’t care about competitive sport by anyone at any level. But I do get that women who compete, even if few care to watch them, are doing something meaningful to them that they would not be able to do if fifth-rate men took all the spots on the team and won all the prizes.

      You say you want sex-desegregated sports. But that wouldn’t mean the WNBA would allow men to compete who couldn’t make the NBA. Instead, the WNBA would cease to exist because no one is going to buy tickets to watch mediocre male basketball players totally dominate the one woman who can make the second string. The people who watch women’s sport, other than the families of the athletes, watch it because they want to see what the best women can do. They won’t be interested in watching what the 200th-best men can do. So the only sports that exists will be the current all-male leagues.

  6. Any American organization with Liberals in it seems to devolve into a generic woke pressure group. A while ago, though long after the New Atheist Schism, even Scott Alexander (of Slate Star Codex/Astral Codex Ten) chose to donate grant money to a Democratic politician, signalling the demise of non-woke rationalism. The EA community has now largely followed his lead.

    I have not observed such activist zeal in continental Europe, and wonder why. But it is sure to grow due to the growing international influence of US culture. And for most young people affected by it, the worldview it promotes is all they ever knew.

  7. Thanks for speaking up on this nightmare for women and girls.

    “Transwomen” are trans identified males (TIMs); they are not any version of women. They should be treated respectfully, but in return they need to respect and stay out of female spaces.

    “After all, there aren’t many transsexual athletes.” Here is a list of women who have been displaced by a man.

    (If I remember correctly, Carole Hooven states that sex differences start in utero and even before puberty there is a small but measurable male advantage in many physical challenges. It is supercharged at male puberty.)

  8. “I plan to declare that I am a Border Collie, so as to enter the Texas 4H Dog Competition.”

    Oh, get real! You wouldn’t stand a chance against a border collie. Or against 99% of dogs, for that matter. To have even a remote chance of winning, I suggest you identify as a bassett hound. Or better yet, a teacup poodle. Woof woof!

    1. > I plan to declare that I am a Border Collie

      I’d recommend avoiding that topic. I presume we’re all supportive of same-sex marriage, etc., here. When people first started campaigning for it, the opposition immediately jumped on claims like “Well, if you can marry a member of your own sex, you can marry a child – or you can marry an animal”, basically equating homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality.

      Adult humans are adult humans, period. Muddying the waters with discussions about interspeciality or interageism (why can’t I say deep down inside, I’m a 10-year old?) is counterproductive. All adult humans have equal rights in most countries. Just accept recognize that non-biologists don’t need to classify sex or race.

  9. I’m sorry to hear this, I am personally acquainted with some of the FFRF folks and have admired and supported their work. I hope that they will listen to the counter-arguments and adjust their position. It is fundamentally unfair to girls, especially when it comes to earning college athletic scholarships. Imagine trans women being allowed to play on the US Women’s soccer team.

  10. Exclusion of transgender women and girls has a far-reaching impact and can adversely affect other women and girls as well. Black and brown girls and women—routinely targeted for not conforming to society’s expectations of white femininity—are particularly vulnerable to harm from the types of exclusionary policies.

    This statement involves the kind of equivocation that no society based on reason should miss — or use. The most glaring is the conflation of sex (being male) with gender (being feminine.) The dispute here is over whether “ biological men who have assumed the gender of women” should compete with women. We start off already agreeing that men are excluded from competing with women. It is NOT about women who have muscular bodies, brown skin, competitive personalities, or dowdy wardrobes being allowed to sign up for women’s sports, ffs.

    The forced teaming of these two completely different concepts — along with the sly references to historic racism and the implication that anyone who objects to Trans-Identified Males in women’s sports will also be in favor of imposing gender stereotypes— is at best muddled, and at worst deliberately disingenuous.

    But I think there’s a more pervasive form of equivocation in the entire vocabulary. “Transgender women and girls … women and girls … other women and girls ….” The language we’re supposed to use to be kind and respectful to men who self-identify as women leaves us unable to articulate the problem, or make a case for why these women and girls can’t join in any reindeer games with the other women and girls. Aren’t “women and girls” a diverse lot with a range of abilities? Well, then.

    The terminology forces the conclusion. It’s equivalent to briefs in a Church/State separation case referring to “Recognizing God” and “The Lord Jesus Christ” — and insisting that the secular side must use this language too in order to show respect and consideration for the deeply felt convictions and fragile faith of the religious. It’s unjust manipulation.

    1. And just to pick up on your comment and add something you may have been hinting at (or not): it is the height of irony that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has allied itself with the largest, strongest, most successful religious movement of our time, the religion of Social Justice.
      Once you worship at the altar of the sacred marginalized Victim and invoke the Holy Trinity (Race, gender, sexuality), you may not be singing to a Sky God but you are forming a community organized around worship of the Sacred. (And as we all know, this religion also has its holy texts and dogma, priests, holidays, martyrs, taboos, and aint too kind to heretics or apostates.)
      The Social Justice god is so powerful that not even the atheists can resist it…

    2. Yes, I think the error society made was in not saying, “The Hell you are!” the first time an obvious man claimed to be a woman and demanded to be called a she and be allowed into a domestic violence shelter (or to extort money from cosmeticians who wouldn’t wax her scrotum. True story.). But we had to be polite and play along with the charade so as not to perpetrate violence against these oppressed predators. And lo, one day we find ourselves struggling to articulate why transgender women should be excluded from places where disabled women, or racialized women, or lesbian women cannot be. The obvious answer, “Because they’re guys, Dumbass!” Is becoming linguistically and legally impossible to say.

      1. Society made an error going along with the labelling that men self-IDing as women are “trans women”. It would be much clearer to swap the labelling and call them “trans men”. After all, they are actually men and they are not actually women.

        1. Good & pertinent point, Coel.
          A “trans women” should indicate a biological female that identifies as of male gender. However, it would become very confusing if we would start using it that way.
          Still worth the effort, IMMO.

        2. Well, the obvious (excessively posting so I’ll stop) rejoinder is they don’t want clarity, any more than The Ministry of Truth wanted clarity in 1984. They want us to mistake them for women, just as a viceroy butterfly wants the birds to mistake it for a monarch. If the viceroy said, “I’m really not a monarch, I only sort of look like one,” the value of the deception would be lost, as would the butterfly when the bird ate it. If we aren’t fooled, we are at least afraid to say what we see, which is good enough for them.

          Trans ideologues want us to regard them as actual women. The FFRF brief is full of that cant.: “If we let Indiana do this to trans women, the next thing they’ll be persecuting gay women and black women.” If we were allowed to call them trans men, the argument wouldn’t wash. So they won’t allow us to.

          I want to agree with Jerry that it costs nothing to be civil and to support full rights to people who say they aren’t the sex they are, especially since some are in genuine distress from being fucked up (to use the technical psychiatric term) but harmless and well-meaning. Where we are now, though, is the cost of being polite and civil in buying into a lie.

    3. “…the sly references to historic racism…” sly indeed, Sastra, and wholly unconscionable. It is neither here nor there, but is still guilefully used.
      I fully agree with your “unjust manipulation”, that’s exactly what it is.

    4. You are absolutely correct. There are no logical bearings to that slippery slope and the failure to expound on their contortions was deliberate. Simply put, it is a vapid call to arms. Ironically, for an organization that decries racism, this intersectional leap is fundamentally patronising and symbolises a predominant stereotype that certain racial groups are no more than willing pawns for every warped social cause that is desperate for extra bodies.

      1. The racial analogy has been considered racist itself, especially by black feminists. “If you let black women on the woman’s team you logically have to let in men, too, because of the similarity.” They are not amused.

  11. I was talking about this to two female running friends recently. One said that she was never going to be winning any races so it didn’t make any difference to her whether there were transgender women competing. The second friend had been an All American runner in college. In high school she competed at 800m against a future Olympian who many people suspect might have been an athlete with a disorder of sexual development. Anne said she just didn’t have a chance against this athlete and felt it was deeply unfair.

    I felt a bit like the first friend was saying “It doesn’t affect me so I am not bothered by it”. To be fair to her, she also held the view that transgender woman already had enough difficulties so, in any clash of rights, preference should be given to them.

    1. In these arguments (most I’ve seen are online) the ones that support males competing in formerly female-only sports usually say something to the effect of “It doesn’t affect me so I’m not bothered by it.” Often they make clear don’t care about sports in the first place, and don’t empathize with the female athletes that are being hurt. They also typically don’t understand how big an advantage males have over females.

  12. Yes, if you adopt the language, then you argue on their terms. The language forces the conclusions, as you say, because one tacitly accepts the assumptions underlying the terminology. The woke then weaponize empathy (who doesn’t want to be polite? or, who wants to be perceived by peers as an a$@hole?) Then it all becomes a debate about varying shades of dogma and doctrine.

    It astounds me that so many who would have no problem puncturing delusions in other areas of belief will cede to the woke language dogmatists and their delusions. Then again, networking and praise of peers are chief currencies of the educated work world. Just people doing what people do.

  13. This is likely another instance of The Woke infiltrating and taking over every remotely progressive organization they can get into. It happened to the BC Humanist Association and Humanist Canada here in Canada. It happened to American Atheists and countless other formerly progressive organizations around the world. Even Atheist Republic suffered from a Woke attack but fortunately were able to fight it off with the loss of one small local branch to the Woke cult’s ideologues.

  14. I’d assume that PCC, esp. as a former honoree, has informed the FFRF of his position on this matter. Would you suggest a specific way for those of us readers who are FFRF members to communicate our dissatisfaction? FWIW, I plan to send an email, but it would be good if they heard this by a large number of us.

  15. I haven’t told the FFRF specifically; I figured they’d find out one way or another. And because they’re still fighting the good fight, by and large, I don’t want to quit them. But if people want to complain or to call this piece to their attention, well, people are free to do what they want.

  16. “And we know enough to hold off on lawsuits forcing biological women to compete against medically treated transsexual women until we have actual data showing that there is no athletic advantage accruing to the latter group during puberty.”

    I understand the specific use/context of the word “forcing” in the above. At the same time I take it that no one can force a person (at least at the K-12 level) to keep playing a sport if they no longer want to.

    Does the FFRF have an equal concern about the under-representation of transmen in men’s sports? Does the FFRF hold that short(ter) people are under-represented in the NBA and that that should be somehow redressed?

    From the position FFRF has taken, I take it that FFRF does not accept the biological binary basis of human sex. If so, I’d like to hear from them a rational, evidentiary basis why.

  17. Women and girls of color are also harmed. What a stretch. Oh well another once seemingly sensible group proving how stupid they really are.
    The dishonesty of some of the rest of it is also disturbing.

    1. Women athletes of any colour are harmed by ‘trans women’ (actually ‘trans men’) of any colour competing. This whole race thing in this discussion is, as Sastra pointed out above, a sly and guileful tactic. Unconscionable and neither here or there.
      Can anybody please explain to me why coloured women athletes are not harmed by males competing in female competitions, as opposed to white woman athletes?
      (No? I thought so).

  18. “ I’m happy to call them by their chosen sex, treat them as members of their chosen sex, and use their chosen pronouns.”

    I agree with Jerry on almost everything and appreciate his detailed analyses of the absurdity of the TWAW arguments made by TRAs. However, it seems to me that playing along with their fantasies, i.e. as demonstrated by the quotation above, is what made this fiasco possible in the first place, complete with not only men winning in women’s sports, but convicted rapists transferred to women’s prisons, men as rape counsellors, and so on.

    1. What you call “playing along with their fantasies is what I’d call “civility”. You can be civil but still not accept actual societal behaviors that are harmful. You can be polite to a Republican, but fight against the policy he/she espouses.

      1. Of course, one can treat that rare Republican in the academic workplace with civility, but one is not obliged publicly to agree with him. Not so with the trans movement. Being “civil” has an unwritten rule that one must agree with the truth claims—or at least pretend to. I may treat Jim-now-Jane politely, and as a woman (whatever that means), and refer to “Jane” as “she”, but if I am asked directly: you DO believe that “Jane” is really a woman, don’t you? (for some activists: a “female”), then it would be quite imprudent within the new Zeitgeist to disagree.

        But set aside adult trans people; I imagine most of us are civil to them. Now consider the thirteen-year-old girl next door who was Jane and now wants to go by Jim. All the adults in “Jim’s” orbit treat “him” as a boy. Some do so as true believers in the cause. Some do so out of civility. None inquire whether Jim was diagnosed as dysphoric. But, in essence, all affirm the child’s stance: you are a boy. All except the child’s two frantic parents, who desperately seek help, refusing to believe their child has real dysphoria when one-third of her female classmates claim to be LGBT. Mom, herself, went through a phase of confusion and self-hate during those teen years; she suspects something similar in her daughter. But the child now hates her parents: they are the only adults, after all, who disagree with her and refuse to accept her “real” self. Or at least that is how it appears to the child when everyone else affirms her new name, pronouns, gender, and maybe even “sex”: no clinical diagnosis needed. And some of the “supportive” adults push her toward chemical and surgical “transition”.

        What to do? Again, it is hard, because dysphoria does exist, and we want to be empathetic to and supportive of those truly affected. But I fear our civility has created an illusion of consensus in polite society about the underlying trans metaphysics (The activists have relied on this, thus the constant policing of discourse and dissent, and a degree of dissimulation about which one can only guess.) More pointedly, in treating all trans claims as though true–in being polite, in affirming–we have already marched civilly and obediently to a place where frantic parents have lost custody of their children for not uncritically accepting the trans new world. When do we also start locking up those parents for abuse?

    2. What does it mean to “treat someone like a woman?”

      Well, if we’re talking about single-sex spaces (sport teams, prisons, rape crisis centers, showers, changing rooms, bathrooms) then being treated “like a woman” means being given access to all of them. If we pick and choose we’re deliberately imposing conditions on someone we wouldn’t impose on a woman — and defending it using arguments we wouldn’t use if we were talking about a woman born with natural differences that don’t effect her status as a woman. On that basis, the odds are the law will eventually rule against what will be claimed to be arbitrary distinctions.

      If we’re only talking about treating someone “like a woman” socially, then we’re encouraging the idea that we ought to treat men and women differently in social situations. This invariably involves overt or covert sexism. Flattery about appearance; chivalrous courtesies; talking over them; asking them to please fetch some coffee. I don’t know. Things you wouldn’t say, do, or expect of a man — but will with a woman.

      I thought we were trying to move away from that sort of thing.

  19. Re “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: in a comment on a previous post it was said that a little boy pointed out the Emperor had had no clothes, while I remembered a little girl, as mentioned in that thread. Hence I went back to the story, and Andersen actually mentions a child, no indication of sex at all. I stand corrected, we all stand corrected, I guess. Andersen stressed the young age and innocence of the child, and apparently was not interested in it’s sex or gender.

  20. OK – I’ll “sub” as a vote … depressing move by the FFRF – in the gray area where religion blends with ideology…

    “Mission Creep” comes to mind. Good call, PCC(E).

  21. A factor not often mentioned regarding male advantage over women in sport,is the the relative sizes of the pools comitting to the many years of training required to reach professional level.
    If many more men are doing this than women the male advantage may seem greater than it is in reality. An example is in chess where there are no women in the top100 players (November FIDE list,Hou Yi Fan just misses out).No physical advantage and I doubt any real difference in mental ability just many more male players than female.

  22. Oh. The FFRF too?


    It seems like they’ve been such a reliable special-purpose organization, like the only tool in a toolbox that’s as useful and reliable at what it does.

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