In this Comment of the Day, the first of two this morning, Extradimensional Cephalopod provides useful perspective on the logical and ethical flaws inherent in the trans athletes fiasco, as well as the weak arguments presented by advocates of biological males competing in girls’ and women’s sports. [That’s transgender female powerlifter Janae Kroc above, before (when she was Matthew Kroczaleski, and after. He/she calls himself/herself “gender fluid,” so when feeling feminine, Janae competes against women. She does…well.]
The nature of most sports is a form of the liability of conflict: uncertain motivational obstacles. People want to be uncertain about the outcome of a sporting event, such that much of what decides the outcome is the motivation, the character, and the efforts of the competitors. That’s why weight classes in wrestling and boxing exist. If one competitor is larger and more physically powerful than the others, and that makes a predictable difference, that moves the event into the realm of scarcity: known physical obstacles, and out of the realm of sports.
If we want to spend the money to decouple gender and ability in sports, well and good. As long as they’re tied together, though, ability must be the priority for arranging match-ups, or else it stops being sport. (Testosterone treatments are a separate factor that would probably need to have its own class, because they’re artificial treatments that cause muscle growth.)
Due to budgetary constraints, only a subset of the most physically capable (cisgender) students are usually able to compete in academic sports, which rules out most students. (Sometimes there are also the equivalent of the Paralympics, to allow people with physical impairments to compete in sports with other athletes of similar physical ability.) Everyone who doesn’t make the team does other things, and sometimes they do amateur sports. People aren’t entitled to be on the school team, though.
This sense of entitlement to participate in activities labeled for a particular gender without understanding why the label exists is hurting acceptance of transgender people. If winning isn’t important to Andraya, why does she want to be on the team? If it is important to her, wouldn’t she want to win through her own efforts instead of through advantages conferred by sexual dimorphism?
“Social justice” doesn’t work when the solution people go with is “give this oppressed person exactly what they ask for using the first method that comes to mind.” There’s a bit more critical thinking required to build a better future.
“Transgender boys and girls, some of whom are rejected by families and those around them, have been documented to have more suicide attempts and substance abuse. Their inclusion in high school sports is paramount.”
So… including them in high school sports, without changing any other aspects of how high school sports work, is the only way to solve this problem? Does everyone involved with high school athletics lack an imagination, or is it just that writer? Don’t they think the drama club wants to help, too? The math team? The art club? The Science Olympiad? The chess club? Creative writing? The debate team? The chorus? Future Business Leaders of America? Model UN? Are the jocks that egocentric, or is my nerd privilege showing and it turns out some people hate all clubs except sports? Or maybe my middle-class privilege is showing and it turns out the school has none of those other things; that would be a whole problem in and of itself.
On a side note, I’m reminded of a scene from “The Princess Bride”:
Man in Black: “Frankly, I think the odds are slightly in your favor at hand fighting.”
Fezzik (played by Andre the Giant): “It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don’t even exercise.” (casually tosses aside a boulder he was holding)