HR 734, introduced in February, is a fine example of the Ethics Alarms motto, “When ethics fails, the law takes over, and usually makes a mess of it.” The objective—I hope— of the proposed law is to eliminate cynical cheating in collegiate and high school sports by male athletes have “transitioned” after going through male puberty. (Lia Thomas—above–guess which one is Lia!— comes to mind.) I say “I hope” because one could read the bill to be expressing targeted animus against transgendered individuals, many/most/some of whom—who knows, really?—are trying to cope with a genuine and life defining problem. However, the bill as written is both too narrow and too broad at the same time, while skirting the major question at issue by pretending it is settled. This is a bad bill, and would be a bad law, perhaps even an unconstitutional law.
I might even conclude that it was composed only to grandstand on the issue for political gain rather than as a good faith effort to address a problem. The Bill states,
“(d) (1) It shall be a violation of subsection (a) for a recipient of Federal financial assistance who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities to permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.
(2) For the purposes of this subsection, sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.
(3) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a recipient from permitting males to train or practice with an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls so long as no female is deprived of a roster spot on a team or sport, opportunity to participate in a practice or competition, scholarship, admission to an educational institution, or any other benefit that accompanies participating in the athletic program or activity.”.
Aren’t the flaws in this hackery obvious? What does “based on” mean? If an athletic competitor has had a full surgical realignment, with all male external organs removed, female equivalents created, and hormone treatments introduced over sufficient time that female secondary sex characteristics are in full bloom, what is that person’s “reproductive biology?” What if an aspiring athlete’s reproductive biology is in conflict with their genetics at birth, or the genetics are ambiguous, as with intersex individuals like runner Caster Semenya, whose unusual (though not unique) dilemma Ethics Alarms has discussed frequently over the years? The bill also inexplicably ignores the situation where a biological female, female at birth, is undergoing a surgical and hormonal transition to the other side of the great gender divide and is still competing with regular, old-fashioned girls and women.
It’s a bad bill.
It is so bad that it makes an open protest letter signed by a group of female athletes in sympathy with obnoxious Leftist women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe seem relatively reasonable:
We, the undersigned athletes, believe that every child deserves to have their life changed for the better by being able to participate in the sport that they love.
As professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, we have dedicated our lives to sports. Sports have given us our greatest friends, taught us incredible life lessons, and given us the confidence and drive to succeed in the world. Those of us who love sport know that its value goes far beyond the playing field, to developing a sense of self and identity, and reflecting what we value as a community. Sport is a tremendous outlet for physical and mental health, teaches valuable lessons on teamwork and discipline, and has brought us lifelong community. Every single child should have access to the lifesaving power of sports.
Right now, transgender and intersex human rights are under attack, with politicians in Washington D.C. pushing forward H.R. 734, the so-called “Protection of Girls and Women in Sports Act”, which would stipulate that Title IX compliance requires banning transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in sports. If this bill passes, transgender and intersex girls and women throughout the country will be forced to sit on the sidelines, away from their peers and their communities. Furthermore, the policing of who can and cannot play school sports will very likely lead to the policing of the bodies of all girls, including cisgender girls. This will deter girls from participating in sports and create additional barriers. Denying children access to a place where they can gain significant mental and physical health benefits, and learn lifelong lessons that come from being part of a team and working hard towards your goals does not protect women in sports.
We believe that gender equity in sport is critical, which is why we urge policymakers to turn their attention and effort to the causes women athletes have been fighting for decades, including equal pay, an end to abuse and mistreatment, uneven implementation of Title IX, and a lack of access and equity for girls of color and girls with disabilities, to name only a few.
Our deepest hope is that transgender and intersex kids will never have to feel the isolation, exclusion and othering that H.R. 734 is seeking to enshrine into law.
Yes, I know: the letter contains so much hogwash and hypocrisy that it is hard not to giggle. It begins with boilerplate “Imagine”-style generalities, ibluding a sly intimation supporting “children: having gender-reassignment treatment, itself a live medical ethics issue. It pretends, in classic leftist style, that there can never be any legitimate circumstances that may prevent the ideal—“Every single child should have access to the lifesaving power of sports”—from being achieved in all cases. The bill does not “ban intersex girls” from participating in sports, as I already noted: it’s ambiguous on that point. The proposed law would protect women’s sports from opportunistic cheats like Lia Thomas, so the assertion that it “does not protect women in sports” is false.
Moreover, having to compete with dubiously-defined females who overwhelm them physically because they had to shave daily just a few months ago will certainly “deter girls from participating in sports”; it already has. The letter’s claim that the bill would lead to “policing women’s bodies” is just scaremongering that undermines its credibility. So does the laundry list of Megan Rapinoe’s pet agenda items, such as “equal pay” for women’s sports teams.
Amusingly, the signers also claim to support “gender equity,” and they don’t. Even with all of the rhetorical dishonesty surrounding the “equality/equity” confusion (which is deliberate), gender equity in sports would require the elimination of gender restrictions in all sports, meaning that Rapinoe and her cohorts would be lucky to have jobs with semi-pro beer league soccer teams. Especially hypocritical are the Paralympic athletes, who would presumably object if someone could compete with them by “identifying” as disabled.
This is a more difficult ethical problem than either the dumb House bill and or the disingenuous open letter acknowledge. Unless the decision is that participation by transexuals in girls’ and womens’ sports should be evaluated on a case by case basis (which would mean “policing” bodies), there are only two solutions, neither of which is perfect. One is to create a special category for sexually non-conforming athletes. I think that is almost politically and practically impossible. The other is what Ethics Alarms endorsed seven years ago:
Society and sports have reached the point the ethical solution is obvious and unavoidable, and, unfortunately, brutal. If society is accepting the fact that a binary gender distribution is a myth, and there may be seven, ten, or dozens of gender variations along a spectrum, then integrity and consistency—and fairness—demands that gender distinctions in sport be eliminated as arbitrary.
Let all genders compete equally in all sports, individual and team both. It is too bad that many women athletes will not be able to compete at a high level with men, who have natural advantages in strength and size, but nonathletic, short, weak boys and men have had to face that same disadvantage for eons. Women can try to close the gap in biology through training, dedication, practice and innovation, just as lesser athletes have bested more naturally gifted one since sports began. Some of them will. Is separate inherently unequal, or isn’t it? It is. The Supreme Court has never made a wiser or more profound statement. Gender-isolated sports were always an implicit societal statement that women could not compete with men, that they were the fair sex, the weaker sex. Women have fought to eliminate that assumption. Gender-segregated sports are an archaic remnant of the attitude feminism has successfully persuaded us was unethical. They have to go.
It’s too bad, but there it is. If transgendered athletes would follow the Golden Rule and appreciate where the utilitarian balance is in their dilemma, this wouldn’t be necessary. They obviously won’t however, and our dim-bulb legislators are incapable of writing laws that take the place of ethics.
20 thoughts on “The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023”
Sports need to be removed from schools entirely.
Removing sex segregation in sports will result in nothing but a lot of injured female athletes. Maybe it is time to eliminate them completely. Harsh, but if society is incapable of being reasonable, acknowledging reality, using common sense, and agreeing to play fair it isn’t capable of having good sportsmanship. No reason to condone bad sportsmanship by continuing the facade.
Women, girls and parents have it in their power to end this problem. If they won’t, my sympathy is limited.
Do they? Riley Gaines has been standing up to them and was attacked by an angry mob at SFSU. I’m sot sure it’s fair to expect people to stand up to the state-backed terrorists when the terrorists face no consequences for any amount of violence.
Not really the point, though. Does one group’s ability to protest unsportsmanlike treatment justify the continuation of unsportsmanlike treatment? I’m not sure cowardliness of one party makes the unethical behavior of another party excusable.
If one is being mistreated and yet accedes to the mistreatment when one has full power to stop it, my sympathy, as I said, is limited. Female athletes on all levels should simply refuse to play when the issue arises, make a statement, and leave it at that. Otherwise they are enabling their own abuse. That’s consent.
Well said Jack, nice and concise.
Female athletes simply do not recognize all the power they have, and in fact have ALL the power if they would just unite. This is truly a defining moment in their lives and when older looking back, they will recognize if they were cowards or courageous.
Riley Gaines understands this and it is very sad she is left dangling alone to be mocked, battered and assaulted. Where are all the angry loud-mouth feminists??? Pussies.
Being woke is a contagious crippling disease that must be contained.
These athletes may forfeit their full ride scholarships, but I suspect that would only be temporary if they united. Imagine if every non-woke female athlete from HS to Olympic/world class, boycotted any event that included a (selfish) trans-athlete. It would force the issue into a much-needed national discussion. Some group must do this in large numbers, and I cannot think of a more perfect storm to embrace.
You said: Female athletes simply do not recognize all the power they have, and in fact have ALL the power if they would just unite.
In fact, those female swimmers tried exactly that to protest this Lia Thomas. But the school threatened them with all sorts of onerous consequences if they dared to sit out the competition or say anything negative about Thomas. They were literally forced to congratulate him.
That said, with more women coming out against males infiltrating their competitions I believe the tide is changing. Or at least I hope so.
I believe that the ‘at birth’ is intended as a qualifier for the phrase “reproductive biology and genetics”, not just genetics. It’s poorly worded, but that is the more reasonable interpretation. Under that interpretation, surgical and hormonal interventions are irrelevant. True intersex conditions are not adequately addressed, but are so vanishingly rare as to be irrelevant.
I do support eliminating sex segregated sports leagues. It would have the fringe benefit of shutting down people who complain about lower pay for women’s leagues without acknowledging objectively lower peformance as the primary factor. It might also help reduce the false belief that there are no differences between the sexes.
I think I agree with your position that abolishing sex-segregated sports programs is the only way to settle this problem. Those arguing for it (Megan Rapinoe?) might want to think a bit longer and harder about the obvious consequences of such actions. Forget about William/Lia Thomas, a middling swim talent before he decided to swim as a female, beating Riley Gaines, et al, in swim meets. That’s simply child’s play. Imagine, if you will, a 250 pound male linebacker flattening a 140 pound female running back. Or a 230 pound base runner colliding with a 120 pound female catcher. Yup. That will end well. Oh, but the good thing is that female athletes could/will suffer traumatic brain injuries at the same, or maybe even higher rates, as male athletes in contact sports. DEI wins, right?
What I do find fascinating, though, is the number of female athletes who support biologically male athletes competing against, and dominating, biologically female athletes. Talk about incoherent. Megan’s statement above clearly shows the inherent contradiction in that position. She celebrates the many advances females have made in pay, access to advertising dollars, etc., only then to wipe it all away by contending that biological males don’t have distinct physical advantages over biological females in a given sport. I dare say that, in a sport where physical strength and stamina are helpful, equally trained male and female athletes are going to perform at different levels – Michael Phelps at his best will still beat Katie Ledecky, who is a monster swimming machine, blessed with a freestyle stroke beyond compare. Hell, a high school soccer team (consisting of 14 and 15 year males) beat the women’s US Olympic soccer team. As Neil Peart would say, “you can twist perception but reality won’t budge.”
“You Can Twist Perception But Reality Won’t Budge.”
¡Maravilloso! jvb; and into my Notable Quotables it goes!
I can’t claim credit. Neil Peart, drummer extraordinaire and lyricist for Rush, authored that little gem. It’s from Rush, “Show, Don’t Tell.” Here it is in all its sonic glory:
Please delete the above, Jack.
Read my previous comment. Many of these women athletes have been threatened into supporting these trans men.
Up to the age of eleven or twelve boys and girls may compete fairly evenly in sports. As an example here in my athletics club (track and field) in New Zealand there is a boy and a girl both aged 14 of whom I know both fairly well. The girl is a great runner, the boy is a good runner but not great. Three years ago the girl could easily beat the boy in a 1500m race without much effort. But with puberty the boy has increased his speed much more quickly than the girl. Last month at the national track and field champs under 16 division the boy ran in both the 1500m and 3000m but came nowhere near winning. The girl won the 800m, 1500m, and 3000m. And who has the faster times? The boy. Any competition after about the age of eleven will greatly disadvantage girls and so need to be separate.
“there are only two solutions, neither of which is perfect. One is to create a special category for sexually non-conforming athletes. I think that is almost politically and practically impossible. The other is what Ethics Alarms endorsed seven years ago: …. Let all genders compete equally in all sports, individual and team both.”
While the first solution is likely impossible politically, the second solution is purely anti women playing sport and I can’t see how anyone would agree with that at all.
All of this transgender nonsense is predicated on the belief that such creatures actually exist. There is no such thing as a transgender, it is both scientifically, biologically, and genetically impossible.
One can undergo all the surgery available and take all the chemical/hormones available but the end result is purely superficial.
This is because a person’s gender is infused into their DNA and exists in every single cell in their bodies, and treating these people like women should be offensive to all actual women.
Any that claim to be of a gender other than the one at the time of their birth are either brainwashed, mentally delusional, or con artists. I would challenge anyone to prove me wrong.
Newsflash Ed, that is not the kind of science the cult of wokeness embraces.
“One can undergo all the surgery available and take all the chemical/hormones available but the end result is purely superficial.”
Everything about the woke cult is superficial. It is all about *appearing* to be virtuous, progressive, and of course superior. Deep down in some long-forgotten place in their psyche, the woke are aware of this and it makes them anxious and uncomfortable to think about. This is a primary reason the woke are intolerant of civilized structured debate/lectures with smart, logical, informed people.
Subconsciously, the prospect of cognitive dissonance scares the bejeezus out of them if their entire belief system is shown to be fundamentally faulty because their identity is inseparable from their ideology.
Safer to utilize the heckler’s veto and various violent means to silence others and remain psychologically intact/undisturbed. It is a twisted kind of warm and fuzzy.
In soccer, women with ball control plus malicious compliance will be a powerful disinsentive for testicular individuals wanting to play in the wrong category.
Well, now. What on Earth does that even mean?