In this post I would like to address some of the ways in which the “rights” being sought through the transgender movement both interfere with the rights of other individuals and violate long-standing rules and policies in various organizations.
Perhaps the first place to look should be at the impact the transgender movement is having, and will continue to have, in schools. The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s transgender policy references in an earlier post includes this statement at the end of the introductory paragraph: “This policy creates a framework in which this participation may occur in a safe and healthy manner that is fair to all competitors.” Really? Fair to all competitors? How is it fair to the females in high school sports for a male who identifies as a female to be allowed to play on a girls sports team? (Or vice versa).
There are numerous ways in which such participation is inherently unfair to everyone involved. It is unfair to the transgender individual because it allows him or her to assume an identity other than that which he or she actually possesses. I could elaborate on that one, but transgender individuals and activists would deny that one so there is not much point in belaboring it; after all, the assumption of that identity is exactly what they are trying to accomplish.
The participation of the transgender individual is unfair to the other competitors. Regardless of how much we may want to deny it or pretend it does not matter, males and females are not physically identical. Males tend to be taller and stronger than females. Therefore, there are inherent problems in allowing males to compete as females or females to compete as males in sports where physical fitness is relevant (and, frankly, there are very few high school sports where it is not). The matter of transgender athletes competing has been an issue in arenas far beyond high school sports and will no doubt continue to be an issue.
The Olympics has long dealt with the issue of athletes trying to complete in events other than those for which they would qualify according to their gender. The IOC has long used gender testing in order to prevent such individuals from competing in the Olympics. In 2004, however, the IOC did adopt “the Stockholm Consensus” which would allow transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity so long as three conditions were met: the individual must have had gender reassignment surgery, must have obtained legal recognition of their newly assumed gender, and must have had at least two years of hormone treatments/therapy. While even allowing these individuals to compete warrants legitimate debate, at least these guidelines establish very specific parameters that both prevent someone from competing based purely on the gender with which they identify and also require some efforts to diminish the advantages that are inherent based on gender differences. The SDHSAA policy allows students to participate based on their gender identity. It does require documentation of “consistent gender identification and expression” and does state that once a student is identified as transgender that student must compete in that gender category for the remainder of his or her high school years. That will, presumably, eliminate any possibility of someone claiming a certain gender identity for one sport and then switching to another identity for the next sport, trying to gain some kind of competitive advantage. Rest assured, however, that the ability of athletes to compete based solely on the gender identity they claim on any given day will be on the transgender agenda before long. After all, if the idea is that gender is fluid and based on how one feels and identifies rather than on how one was born it will not be possible to insist that one can really be a gender other than the one they were born but that once that decision is made it is permanent.
A few months ago CrossFit was in the news because its governing body told a transgender female athlete that she could not compete as a woman. Why? An article on HuffingtonPost described the following as “the most disturbing part” of the letter sent to individual in question:
We have simply ruled that based upon [Chloie] being born as a male, she will need to compete in the Men’s Division. … The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women. … Our decision has nothing to do with “ignorance” or being bigots — it has to do with a very real understanding of the human genome, of fundamental biology, that you are either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school.
Was the CrossFit response rude? I suppose you could argue that it was. The main points of their explanation are entirely accurate, however; no matter how you slice it, a male who identifies as a female–even a male who has gender reassignment surgery–does and will always have a physical advantage. One could debate the physiological advantage but I think it is safe to assume that the fact that the woman on the court/track/field used to be a man will be in the mind of the other women involved in the competition.
There is plenty more that could be said on this matter but the issue goes well beyond athletics. I believe it should be sufficient for this particular aspect of the issue to say that it simply is not possible to both allow transgender individuals to compete according to their gender identity and to, as the SDHSAA policy asserts, be “fair to all competitors.” It certainly interferes with the right of a female to compete solely against other females in her sport of choice when men who decide to become females are also allowed to compete.
Another area in which the transgender movement is trampling the rights of others is the insistence that everyone else refer to transgender individuals by the gender pronouns aligned with their gender identity. The SDHSAA policy includes a statement that schools must “[u]se correct names/pronouns according to the student’s self–identification.” I see no recognition of the rights of an individual who is uncomfortable referring to a “he” as a “she” in that wording. Public schools in Vancouver, Canada have gone even further. Last month the school board approved a policy that will require teachers to use transgender pronouns when referring to transgender individuals. What are transgender pronouns? They are made-up words, no doubt created by some person or group of people within the transgender movement so that they can have their own pronouns and not have to use those that belong to males and females. The Vancouver policy instructs teachers to use “xe, xem and xyr” instead of “he, him and his.” Never mind the rights of teachers and others to refer to individuals as what they are rather than what they feel like, apparently the transgender movement is also entitled to create its own words now, too.
Perhaps most disconcerting is the movement for transgender individuals to be permitted to use restrooms based on their gender identity. California approved a bill last year that allows school children to select which bathroom they will use based on their gender identity. What about the rights of the boys not to have a girl who says she feels like a boy come into their bathroom, or the girls to have a boy who feels like a girl come into theirs? Again, the rights of the vast majority of individuals are being trampled on in order to accommodate the preferences of a very small few. The SDHSAA policy includes “locker room accessibility” as one of the things that schools must accommodate when there is a transgender athlete. What if there is no locker room available? Not many schools have extra locker rooms sitting around, meaning either the transgender athlete will have to be permitted to use the locker room of the gender he/she claims, will have to use the locker room on his/her own when the rest of the team is out of the room, or will have to be given a separate room somewhere to change, etc. Mark my words, if we continue down this path it will not be long before any newly-constructed public building will have to include gender-neutral restrooms. The transgender movement will insist that this is a civil rights issue, they will demand equality of facilities, and they will obtain a transgender version of the Americans with Disabilities Act that requires handicapped accessibility in public buildings. No doubt most of them will be used rarely if ever, given that less than half of one percent of the population identifies as transgender, but at least they’ll be there should the need arise.
That is, of course, because we must be “fair to all.”