26 July 2019

A problem we need to confront

[Trigger warning:  This post uses the words "male" and "female" and third-person pronouns the way they have always been used in English and are still used by the vast majority of native speakers.]

Feagaiga Stowers is a young woman weightlifter from Samoa who recently competed at the Pacific Games.  She had survived an abusive childhood and trained hard, to the point where she was expected to win the gold medal, as she had done at some earlier events.  But she lost that prize to another competitor, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand.

Hubbard, whose original name was Gavin Hubbard, self-identifies as female.  The Pacific Games disregarded the fact that, until recently "transitioning", Hubbard was unambiguously male.  Indeed, previously he had competed as a man in male weightlifting events.  At the Pacific Games, Hubbard was recognized as a woman.  The question is whether this was fair to biological women such as Stowers who were competing there.  Transitioning, even surgically, does not remove all of the advantage in physical strength built up over decades of life as a male.

An analogous situation arose earlier this year in Connecticut, where two transgender students took first and second place at the State Championships in Girls' Track, outrunning biologically-female students who would otherwise have won.  One of those girls, Selina Soule, has been outspoken about the unfairness of competing under these conditions, and has filed a Title IX complaint.  For this, she has been vilified in the media and allegedly subject to retaliation by school authorities, though a few journalists have taken a more even-handed view.

The standard response on the left to such cases has been to ignore them or, when individuals refuse to be ignored, to try to silence them with name-calling.  A good example is the reaction faced by Martina Navratilova, an early pioneer of lesbian visibility in sports, when she dared call attention to the issue late last year.  Despite making more effort than most people would to sympathize with the views of the people vilifying her, she was effectively denounced as a heretic and several LGBT organizations severed their ties with her.

The issue extends beyond the world of sports.  The insistence on recognizing biologically-male transgender people as women in all situations often includes giving access to women's restrooms and locker rooms.  An unambiguous man entering those places would instantly register as a potential threat.  Women and girls who are not up to speed on the latest mandatory ideological contortions naturally react to any biological male the same way in that context.  In some countries children who believe they may be transgender are being given "puberty blockers" to disrupt their natural biological development (see multiple links here).  Young people who are probably simply normal homosexuals are being encouraged to consider themselves transgender and undergo physical mutilation in what amounts to a new form of conversion therapy.

In Canada, a transgender activist has exploited that country's oppressive "hate speech" laws to harass and silence people who failed to ignore biological reality and accept him as a woman; an equally absurd "publication ban" law helped him conceal his history as an abuser until recently.  In Britain last year, a convicted rapist who claimed to be transgender was sentenced to a women's prison, with predictable results.  Feminists who object to such practices, called "TERFs" ("Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists") are routinely vilified and subject to horrifying calls for murderous violence.

This is madness.  It is unsustainable because it requires constant and energetic reality-denial; it is being propped up by name-calling and shouting down anyone who dares call attention to the absurdities it creates.  The extension of full equality, including equal marriage rights, to gay men and lesbians had no real costs to anyone else; transgender ideology inherently requires manifold incursions into women's long-established separate zones in every area of life, from athletics to public bathrooms.

This issue will not go away.  The more transgender ideology becomes generally accepted, the more cases like those linked above will arise.  And this is a problem for the left, as long as it continues to treat people like Soule and Navratilova as it has.  As you can see from the links I posted above regarding her case, Soule has fallen in with some pretty unsavory right-wing characters.  But who can blame her, when the left will not give her a hearing?  If we refuse to listen to the victims in these situations, they will turn to those who will listen.  Denunciation will drive people away, but will not silence them.  And ignoring the issue and refusing to talk about it isn't good enough.

We have a choice.  We can keep trying to hand-wave away cases like those I've raised here so as to re-affirm commitment to the existing ideological response to this issue, ignoring and silencing victims and giving the rightists a lever which will enable them to pry away growing numbers of women voters in the future.  Or we can figure out a response to the claims of transgenderism which will be fair to everybody.  I don't claim to know what such a response would look like.  I just know that what we're doing now is not going to get us there.  Quite the opposite.

[Some of the links used in this post found via Aunt Polly.]

24 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Wow! what a read here! I sware I had to read it more than once in sections to even get to halfway understand it. And I only understood it halfway, only because I heard some of these arguments before. Trying to figure this out, at least for someone of my education level, is a nightmare, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh {:-) No, all this stuff has been totally confusing to me for long, because it really is a mess trying to deal with it, and all the different rants about everything, a pure mess and a half. I am such a simple kind of person, I even view trannies as "shes", so I'm sure I offend someone, somewhere, on anything that I say or how I label folks. I guess I just label folks, as far as what they feel they are. I knew a transgender (male to female, but did not have the surgery yet, but took hormones or something), whenever I talked with "him", I referred to him/ her like a lady, I guess ... and she was comfortable with it, even telling me she felt like a lady ... and she was so nice to me, and treated me, like a lady would treat a guy, if that makes sense. I don't know if I'm right or wrong, or even know what to properly do, especially when I listen to the various groups and the complaints they may have. I just try to get by the best I can. Interesting read though ....

26 July, 2019 06:25  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

As far as the sports competition part though, that is the tricky part ... and yes, I have read up on some of the complaints previously, and heard some news briefs. There are just some things (to me) that we are different at, as far as excelling well, yet, trying to make it sound fair and unbiased is difficult, without offending someone. I have a good long time buddy (and guitarist) ... over the last year, he met a lady at his neighbourhood Tennis courts (City of Dallas). He's in good shape, about 55-ish, jumps rope everyday, bikes, swims, and of course, plays guitar {:-) he also played football (tight end) and baseball in high school, but he also smoked alot of pot too, like a freight train {:-) So after a couple months of meeting this lady (she's about 50) on sunday mornings early to play tennis with her, he comes back to me and sayz ... "she still beats me badly every time". I told him "no biggie", but he said it bothered him some. I told him "maybe because she's a woman?", he said "no". But a week or two later, he said, "you're right Tom, I think it does bother me, that I haven't beaten her in one game yet, because like you said, she's a woman" ... he asked would it bother me at all? ... I told him "absolutely not", he asked "why". I told him because she is very experienced at tennis, she plays all the time, you just took it up, she's just good, plain and simple ... you will get better as you continue to play. Anywayz, to cut it short, about a month ago, he finally beat her at the game. I just see some folks, excel at things better than others, regardless of gender ... and I do believe that males can have an advantage though too. I mean, I wouldn't put a 120lb woman to work the defensive line on a male football team ... but I wouldn't put a 120lb male on it either ... if that makes sense (?)

26 July, 2019 07:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your description of this as madness is right on point.

26 July, 2019 08:05  
Anonymous Rancid said...

There's an old statistics joke that says "the average person has one testicle and one ovary."

There's a medical condition called chimerism, when two zygotes fuse into one embryo. The resulting person will have two different sets of chromosomes.

In some cases, one of the zygotes will have XX chromosomes and the other will have XY. In some of those cases, the cells that become one gonad have the XX pair, and the cells that become the other gonad have the XY pair. So the person develops one ovary and one testicle.

There really are recorded cases of average people.

Is the average person biologically male or biologically female?

26 July, 2019 11:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: Obviously there are many cases where women can outperform men -- I'm sure I couldn't even remotely compete with Feagaiga Stowers in weightlifting. But for people of similar age, health, and level of training, generally males do have a physical advantage, so it really is an issue when they're allowed to compete as women. And sometimes it's more than a game. In the Connecticut case there were scholarships at stake, for example.

Anon: Thanks.

Rancid: I'm aware of those kinds of phenomena, but I don't see their relevance to the post. Such glitches in the development process are certainly tragic for the people affected, but they're also extremely rare. The vast majority of people are either unambiguously male or unambiguously female.

26 July, 2019 14:47  
Blogger RO said...

As always, I give you mad props because you're not afraid to talk about the tough topics and eloquently give us all something to think about, which I truly appreciate. If ever there were a Blogger Debate Team, you'd be my choice. Your knowledge and expertise on so many things is exemplary.Hugs and Happy Saturday! RO

27 July, 2019 02:50  
Blogger Ed said...

Easy solution. Follow the evidence. If a person has a penis and testicles, he's a guy. If vagina and ovaries, she's a gal. Those who claim to be opposite of the evidence are either liars or insane and need to be checked by a good psychologist.

27 July, 2019 05:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RO: Thanks! A number of times I've posted on things that made some people uncomfortable, but some things do need to be said. I think avoiding uncomfortable subjects is weakening the left.

Ed: I don't believe they're "liars or insane", at least not in most cases. It's not my business to judge how sincere trans people are about their self-definition. I'm only concerned with the impact it has on the rights of other people.

27 July, 2019 09:19  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I agree with RO, you do seem to be well versed in a lot of subjects and can intelligently explain them. I do think that when it comes to sports competitions it's not always fair to let all the different people who want to compete, compete because like you said some people who are transitioning if they used to be male and want to now compete against females, might have a slight or more than slight unfair advantage.

27 July, 2019 10:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you addressed this. I know you've previously expressed skepticism about the pendulum swinging back on same-sex marriage, etc., but I wonder whether these issues might cause that. People who had come around on LGB issues will likely not come around this time, and might further reconsider their previous shifts. This could even go beyond LGBT issues. I've wondered whether civil rights in general might eventually come under serious attack, with LGBT issues held up as a defining example of how absurd civil rights were.

27 July, 2019 20:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: Thank you! It certainly is unfair in cases like these, when women and girls are being expected to sacrifice their ambitions on the alter of trans ideology and shut up about it. I'm glad Soule, at least, is refusing to stay quiet.

28 July, 2019 01:14  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: I think public acceptance of gay equality is pretty secure, because most people recognize that it's an issue of fairness; there never was really any argument against it except religious taboo, and religion as a serious motivating force is collapsing outside the fundie minority. Unlike gay equality, trans ideology poses a real threat to the rights and freedoms of others, and that's why I think it's likely that public opinion will eventually demand a drastically modified approach to it.

I still don't accept the "pendulum" metaphor because there are no examples of it actually happening -- there has never been a case where social progress was followed by a robotic return to the pre-enlightenment views among the general public -- and it doesn't make any sense that people becoming more accepting of something would somehow result in a return to the previous less-accepting attitude. A rejection of the more militant claims of trans ideology wouldn't represent a pendulum-swing back to the earlier mindless prejudices, but rather a need for a more nuanced approach after the problems it creates for women have become apparent.

28 July, 2019 01:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it could lead to Republicans winning elections, at least. All the talk about bathrooms probably did help Republicans in 2016, and it could be much worse in 2020. Not sure what should be done in regards to the LGBT Equality Act, but Democrats seem to have embraced it.

28 July, 2019 01:54  
Anonymous Polly said...

Wow, thanks for citing me! Aunt Polly.

30 July, 2019 04:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: There's always that risk -- if we ignore a legitimate problem, people impacted by it will turn to the other side.

Polly: Thanks for all the links you've posted on this issue.

30 July, 2019 12:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When someone says that trans women have been competing in women's sports for decades and haven't dominated, how do you respond to that?

01 August, 2019 11:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: I don't believe that. Transsexualism has only been a widely-recognized phenomenon for a few years. There have not been biological men competing in women's sports for decades (I suppose except for vanishingly-rare cases of men disguising themselves as women, but I don't recall ever hearing of such a thing), and if there had been, they would indeed have dominated in many cases. The cases I cited are certainly unfair to the women and girls involved, in any case.

01 August, 2019 12:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-19/martina-navratilova-says-trans-players-cheats-she-beat-first-one/10825100

It goes back to 1977. No doubt, though, that the number has greatly increased and will continue to do so if allowed. I'm just trying to figure out how to respond to such reasoning.

01 August, 2019 12:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Not in significant numbers. And the fact that Navratilova -- one of the best tennis players in history -- was able to beat Richards hardly disproves the fact that Richards having been born male was an unfair advantage. No one claims that males are "unbeatable" -- I mentioned that in my response to Ranch Chimp above -- but there is definitely an unfair advantage.

Anyway, the ridiculous language the article uses shows the bias of the author. "Cisgender" women (in plain English, "women") are not "assigned female at birth", they simply are female.

01 August, 2019 13:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the spirit of athletic competition, an even footing and comparing like with like, some adjustment needs to be made. Ex-males having a significant advantage in some contests violates this spirit. What that adjustment might look like remains to be seen. I haven't a clue.

The issues around dressing and toilet facilities are much more clear in my mind. Toilet facilities can simply sidestep the issue by going unisex and providing stalls with doors. You go in, do your business, and get out. Anyone lingering or invading others privacy needs to be sanctioned. This is entirely independent of gender identification, orientation, status of transition, or genital form.

Some of the societal confusion comes down to our comfort in assuming gender norms. A 'man' in the ladies room is expected to cause a stir but neither the shape of genitals, nor gender identification seem really relevant. The deciding factor is orientation. A man going into a room full of naked boys is really not much of an issue only if the man is firmly heterosexual and interested only in adults.

How do we assure ourselves that the coach is appropriately disinterested sexually in his/her charges? Human sexuality can be fluid and changeable. Questioning, exploration, and the occasional excursion to the wild side are pretty common for most humans in mt estimation. I don't know how you reliably identify riskier situations.

Perhaps the best solution is to provide protective protocols independent of any consideration of orientation. We could require everything to be clothed or covered, above the waist, easily observed, and with several responsible people to be present. The idea being that if you can't do it out in the open you probably shouldn't be doing it.

05 August, 2019 13:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I think most women, and some men, would be uncomfortable with the idea of unisex public bathrooms. There can't be a cop, or even a bystander likely to intervene, in every public bathroom everywhere in the country to "sanction" people who behave wrongly. On that issue and on the others raised, why should hundred of millions of people have to accept such unwanted changes to accommodate a tiny minority? This is why the trans issue is not like the gay issue. Equal rights and even marriage for gays didn't require any substantial sacrifice by anyone else. These changes would impact everyone in uncomfortable ways.

A 'man' in the ladies room is expected to cause a stir but neither the shape of genitals, nor gender identification seem really relevant.

No, a man in the ladies room represents a potential danger in a way that another woman would not. The vast majority of men are heterosexual, and lesbians sexually assaulting straight women is a vanishingly rare occurrence.

Human sexuality can be fluid and changeable.

It can be, but for the majority of people it apparently isn't. Again, it's not reasonable to expect the whole population to accept uncomfortable and in some cases threatening changes because some people have suddenly decided that "trans identity" is such an issue.

05 August, 2019 14:39  
Anonymous YATA said...

I read Rancid's comment, and something popped into my mind.

Might I ask a stupid question?

It's about chimerism. The merger of two zygotes, one XX and one XY, could produce a person with an XX brain and XY gonads.

What is the "biological sex" of this person?

06 January, 2020 20:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I don't know if there's ever actually been a documented case of that specific form of chimerism, nor how such a person would be classified gender-wise (probably by the outwardly visible sexual characteristics -- such a person might well go through life without himself or anyone else even knowing about the "XX brain". In any case, it's irrelevant to the issue; rare cases which are difficult to classify don't invalidate classifications. There are a few cases where species of organisms can't be clearly classified as animals or plants, but in the vast majority of cases, it is clear whether something is an animal or a plant.

07 January, 2020 00:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Meredith: Look, this stuff is all irrelevant because you're talking about the theoretical basis of transgender ideology, which I never mentioned in the post and don't care about. The issue here is the concrete effects which that ideology has on other people due to some of the ways it's being implemented.

You can self-identify as a hammer-headed shark for all I care. What I have a problem with is biting people.

I believe we have exhausted the subject. As I keep pointing out, this is a blog, not a debating forum.

07 January, 2020 16:50  

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