Dorothy Cummings McLean

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Shame: 2018 Winter Olympics allows men claiming to be ‘women’ to compete against real women

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February 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – For the first time in Olympic history, men who identify as "women" are being allowed to compete against women during the Winter Games in South Korea.

Reports Larry Brown Sports: 

For the first time, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] has ruled that transgender athletes can take part in the Olympics. Female-to-male athletes can compete “without restriction,” while male-to-female athletes must undergo hormone therapy. Previously, IOC guidelines called for athletes to have reassignment surgery followed by at least two years of hormone therapy in order to be eligible. The only remaining regulation is that male-to-female athletes must demonstrate that their testosterone levels have consistently been below the cutoff point for at least one full year prior to competition.

It remains unclear if there are, in fact, any openly transgender athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Speaking as a former amateur boxer, I am all agog at the thought of a female-to-male transsexual actually qualifying for an Olympic spot. “Faster, higher, stronger” is not only the motto of the Olympics, it sums up the relationship of elite male athletes to elite female athletes. For example, Florence Griffith Joyner of the USA ran 100 meters in 10.49 seconds. Usain Bolt of Jamaica did it in 9.58 seconds.

In sports, that’s a big margin. 

No woman has broken Flo-Jo’s record since she set it in 1988, which underscores what an accomplishment it was for a woman to reach that speed. The first men recorded running the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds did so in 1968. Scores of men have finished the Men’s 100-meter faster than Flo-Jo finished the Women’s. So, really, I am not expecting a female-to-male transsexual to give Usain Bolt a run for his money anytime soon. 

But neither am I expecting Flo-Jo’s record for the women’s 100-meter to stand much longer, especially when men who claim to be "women" are attempting to break the record.

It will fall, perhaps by an impressive amount, but the victor won’t inspire girls around the world. The victor, although identifying as a woman, will probably never have been a girl. The most likely athlete to break the women’s record will be the athlete who has had the incomparable advantage of having once been a teenage boy. And when teenage girls see that, they may well wonder whether all the work and sacrifice that goes into an Olympian will be worth it. 

I can imagine a much, much different kind of Olympics in future, one that features elite male athletes and “female” athletes who, like eight members of Iran’s women’s football team, were not born women.

The International Olympics Committee is not insisting that “Transgender” athletes undergo what some call sex-reassignment surgery but what is more aptly called genital mutilation. However,  it is insisting that athletes who participate in women’s sports not have had over 10 nanomoles of testosterone per litre of blood in their bodies for a year before competing. 

This is supposed to make competition in women’s sports fair for, you know, women – women who are just women, with women’s standard physiology, not intersex, like South Africa’s Caster Semenya, and not transsexual, like New Zealand’s weightlifting Laurel Hubbard (born Gavin). However, it’s not just the current, or very recent, ownership of testosterone that makes the difference between male and female athletic ability: it’s also the presence of that testosterone as a teenager. The long-term effects of having high testosterone, and a male body, cannot be discounted.

I’m glad the IOC isn’t insisting that biological-men-who-identify-as-women have themselves surgically altered to resemble biological women more closely, but at the same time, I wonder what is left to stop scores of cynical men hungry for fame and advertising contracts to enter women’s sports. 

Recently I read a fascinating book about how the British Women’s Olympic Team was transformed. Team GB recruited women who had only a nodding acquaintance with the sports they were ultimately to compete in but had superhuman levels of the will to win. I am sure there are no shortage of men who, lacking the ability to compete against elite men, nevertheless, have the will to win against women.  

The losers will, of course, be women, and women’s sports, and, in fact, all women lose. 

I played hockey as a teenage girl, and nothing I experienced on the ice suggested that playing hockey against teenage boys would be wonderfully safe. And, as I mentioned above, I was an amateur boxer, and nothing I experienced in the ring led me to think I could fight any male boxer older than 12.

What parent would want to encourage his or her daughters to enter into high-contact sports against teenage boys or men?

And what parent would now support wholeheartedly a 10-year-old girl’s dream of becoming an Olympic gold medallist, knowing that the awarding of the women’s gold medal will now largely depend on whether or not a man, who says he's a "woman," wants to try for it? 

I love women’s sports, which is to say, any sport done by women, in competition with other women. That there are any women’s sports at all is thanks to women proving to men that athletic games and training wouldn’t hurt our supposedly delicate insides.

Being able to play at all, to play well and to win against each other was the point. Only rarely have we been that interested in besting the boys at their games.

What a shame that some of the boys now want to best us at ours.

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Dorothy Cummings McLean

Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian journalist, essayist, and novelist. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./S.T.B. from Toronto’s Regis College. She was a columnist for the Toronto Catholic Register for nine years and regularly contributes to Catholic World Report.  Her first book, Seraphic Singles,  was published by Novalis (2010) in Canada, Liguori in the USA, and Homo Dei in Poland. Her second, Ceremony of Innocence, was published by Ignatius Press (2013).  Dorothy lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband.