For the first time in Olympic history, a man who identifies as a woman will be competing in the women’s weightlifting competition.
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand will compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer after the International Olympic Committee ruled he had met the thresholds put in place to make the competition, which included a testosterone level below a certain number.
It’s not far-fetched to say this is the beginning of the end of women’s sports. While the NCAA has had rules in place since 2011 to allow men to compete in women’s sports, there really aren’t any solid statistics on how common it is.
Proponents of men participating in women’s sports use head-turning logic such as claiming that height and weight between members of the same gender also present unfair competition or arguing that keeping trans athletes from participating in their desired sport is the same as segregation in the 1950s.
One argument that is particularly hard to follow comes from Joanna Harper, a man who identifies as a woman. Harper, who is both an athlete and a researcher on trans athletes, actually said that, in the words of ABC News, while “trans women” do have advantages over “cisgender women” as a whole, “it’s not uncommon in baseball for left-handed players to have some advantages over right-handed players. Athletic abilities vary regardless of the gender someone is assigned at birth.”
As much as I try to see the other side of an argument, this one just hurts my head.
Numerous studies confirm what we already know to be true, that men are significantly stronger than women. Women are just over half as strong as men in their upper body and two-thirds as strong as men in their lower body. Those are statistically significant numbers and have nothing to do with discrimination or hate; it’s how men and women are made.
But everything is hate speech in today’s culture, right? Science doesn’t matter, only when it conveniently supports a particular viewpoint.
Earlier this year, when the House of Representatives passed the horrible Equality Act, the National Organization for Women said, “As courts and scientists overwhelmingly have stated, transgender girls and women are girls and women.” No, science has not overwhelmingly stated that because it’s impossible.
Biological differences that dictate strength, speed, agility and various other physical aspects of athleticism are not the same as being left-handed or right-handed, something that usually an individual does not choose. Of course, athletic abilities vary among individuals. But that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to pit a man against a woman in a sporting event and call it a fair fight.
Or how about just throwing out the entire notion of fairness in general?
One pediatrician and geneticist argues that recognizing diversity is way more important than having fair competition. “I think we should focus on celebrating this diversity, rather than focusing on relative notions of fairness,” Dr. Eric Vilain told NPR in March.
In 2020, three female athletes sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for allowing boys to compete against girls, denying them close to 100 opportunities to compete in high school competitions.
One of the women, Selina Soule, lost an opportunity to race in front of college scouts and recruiters in hopes of securing a college scholarship. She lost to a boy who identified as a girl. He went on to set a girls championship record for the 55-meter dash. Surprise, surprise.
I have three daughters, and it would be terribly unfair for any of them to work hard, training to be the best they could be in their chosen sport and then have it all vanish because they would be forced to compete against a boy.
Or what about girls, particularly those in middle and high school, being in intimate settings with their sports teams with boys? I would never allow my daughters to be in that situation, even it meant giving up a sport they loved. But that’s exactly the route that allowing men to compete in women’s sports will take.
If transgender athletes want to compete in sports, then options can be thought through about different divisions or other solutions. But men should not be competing against women and have it be called a fair competition.
Women are the biggest losers in this scenario, which is so terribly ironic since it’s the organizations who claim to stand for women’s rights, for fairness and for equality who are about to take those very same rights away from them.
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