Finding a way forward for trans sports competitors.
Mary Peters says women cannot compete on equal terms with trans women.
This must be the frontier of the trans rights debate.
There are people who include those who say gender is socially constructed and claim there is no connection between gender and biology. Then of course there are people who accept biology as the primary gender determinant. Testosterone is linked to physical performance, it’s also linked to bone and muscle development, so competitors born biologically male will have an advantage over those born biologically female, even if trans women are taking testosterone suppressing drugs.
Hence, the proliferation of trans women born male and competing in women’s sports as women, and winning, is controversial.
What isn’t mentioned quite so much is trans women can compute in some pugilistic sports against women in some women’s competitions, depending on admission rules of that competition. This means women are being harmed by competitors born biologically male, which of course is something which ires people, including TERFS (Trans-Exclusional Radical Feminists), who don’t accept trans women are women.
So the frontier is a battle between those who believe trans people should be accepted as the gender with which they identify (hence, what was formerly called “gender reassignment surgery” is now increasingly being called “gender affirmation surgery”). Such people believe any restriction placed on trans people which does not accept them as their chosen gender is a form of prejudice. On the other hand, the people who accept biology as the determinant, not identity, argue it isn’t prejudice, it’s simply an acknowledgement of the reality of human biology, in opposition to the ideological stance which accepts personal identity as supreme in these matters.
How is it possible to create a rule set which is fair? If the rules state gender is determined at birth then this writes into law that gender identity does not determine gender, biology at birth does. This would exclude trans people from competing as their chosen gender. Which is a position many support. On the other hand, if one accepts competitors based purely on gender identity then it allows male sportsmen to simply swap genders and dominate the women’s sports.
If one tries to find a middle ground, what should the terms be? Testosterone levels? As some say, this still doesn’t compensate for additional bone and muscle mass advantages gained as a man.
A middle ground which took testosterone levels, muscle mass and bone density into account, as well as making entry more expensive and difficult to measure might set a strange set of entry requirements given the variance in bone and muscle density of people born biologically male or female.
Going forward, perhaps dividing leagues according to physical attributes and eliminating gender segregated sport is one way. Boxing is an example of a sport which already allows people to complete in the same game, but doesn’t allow people of significantly different physical attributes to complete in the same class.
To help allay arguments this is just the gender binary reasserting itself it might be prudent to have more than two physical classes, and otherwise erase gender from entrance requirements. It then wouldn’t matter whether you self identified as male or female.
Curiously though, what such a system might also be expected to show is, in the top performance bracket there would be still more people born biologically male than female, still stimulating the debate which says that men are found in greater numbers than women in higher pay brackets because of fair pay combined with superior strength and stamina and not sexism.