Goodbye, women’s sports
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January 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — I thought I spotted some signs of common-sense returning to the world of sport a few weeks ago, but the President of the United States can, up to a point, create the political weather, and Joe Biden’s lead on allowing transexuals to compete as whatever sex they choose now makes my optimism seem premature. On the plus side, I have now learned a new word to describe this phenomenon: “transjacking.”
I found it this in this article on the subject which helpfully gives a long list of American sports events where athletes who had the good fortune to be born with male bodies outcompeted athletes who did not. The advantages that men have over women in almost every sporting endeavour are very significant, and enduring. They include, notably, longer limbs and larger lung capacity. The response of many sporting bodies, to insist that male-born athletes who wish to compete in women’s events lower their testosterone levels for a certain number of months, is wholly inadequate. To have the necessary effect, the hormones would have had to have been different over the course of several years, from about the age of 12. Low levels of testosterone isn’t going to shorten runners’ legs at the age of 20.
From the point of view of the history of ideas, the takeover of women’s sports, and women’s spaces in general, by “male bodied” persons is a particularly fascinating development. For a century and more the dominant school of Feminism has told us that women are essentially the same as men, and should not be treated differently socially or legally. Indeed, I would agree with them that women should be allowed to take degrees at University, become doctors, and so on, and I would dispute the lazy claim that restrictions on things like this which women faced in the late-19thand early 20thcenturies represent the settled view of European culture up to that point.
On the other hand, it is not such a simple matter to allow women to become priests in the Catholic Church. Again, I personally think insisting on having women in combat roles in the military is a huge mistake practically, morally, and culturally: practically, because their presence reduces units’ military effectiveness; morally, because it places the women at disproportionate and unnecessary risk; and culturally, because of the way women symbolise the society for which men go to war to protect. There is an irreducible difference between men and women which does, in fact, make a difference.
Transjacking seems a sort of practical joke on this kind of Feminism. Not so long ago, some people liked the idea that women could compete directly against men, for example in tennis. Exceptions aside, this was based on fantasy, and women who play the vast majority of sports on that basis are in for a good deal of disappointment, not to say humiliation. Even with golf, which one might think would be a more even playing field, we find that female players struggle to compete with male ones. Of the few women who have made it into a men’s tournament (the Barbasol Championship in 2018), Brittany Lincicome tied for 129th place out of 132. Ouch.
The result of biological reality is that even now, when only a small number of “male bodied” individuals are taking part in women’s sports, the effect is very significant. If more “male bodied” athletes do so, athletes with, er, female bodies, are going to be systematically excluded from the top spots in their own sports. No one has a right to a gold medal, true, but the question here is whether female-bodied persons, formerly known as “women”, should have events tailored to their abilities and talents. I can’t really see why not.
I would have thought, in fact, that this argument could be made even without recourse to appeal to the metaphysical reality of sexual differentiation. The male-bodied athletes who want to compete in women’s sports say they are women, but if so they are women who have, so to speak, bathed in testosterone throughout their physically formative years. Doing so artificially would be against the rules of these sports, because it would be unfair. The parallel between male puberty and doping is obvious.
The reason why such a common-sense argument seems to cut so little ice with the leadership in the various sports is that to say that these individuals are allowed to compete against women is a very powerful statement that they really are women. While one could deny them entry into women’s events without denying that they are women, saying that they can compete implies a kind of official endorsement for the proposition that they are. This kind of endorsement is something which those pushing the trans agenda are extremely keen to secure, and for that reason it is politically imperative. Perhaps after all we’re not going to see common sense on “transjacking” prevail until the wider issue is settled.