[guest post by JVW]
If 2020 JVW arrived in a time machine to visit 2010 JVW sometime right after the “Affordable” Care Act had passed through Congress and been signed by President Obama (a big effen’ deal, right Mr. Biden?) and told his younger, leaner, more hirsute, less grumpy, more agreeable-with-new-things self that one of the major social battles ten years hence would be accepting athletes born as males — with all of the attendant size and musculature of that gender — but now self-identifying as female into competitions heretofore restricted to girls and women, 2010 JVW would almost certainly have packed it all in and repatriated to his family’s little ancestral hometown in rural Ireland to happily sell four-leaf clover knick-knacks to unsuspecting tourists. But here we are, so let’s try to unpack how all of this has happened and try to figure out where we might go from here.
Title IX, passed in the run-up to Richard Nixon’s re-election almost a half-century ago, was intended to ensure that girls and women in educational environments had access to the same sort of programs and activities that boys and men had. Through the years the measure has yielded some remarkable results, including the expansion of athletics programs at the K-12 and college levels, even though this expansion has come at the expense of men’s programs. American women athletes are now the envy of the world, as our teams dominate in the major sports of swimming and water polo as well as those lesser-known endeavors such as basketball, soccer, track and field, gymnastics and tennis. Indeed, no other nation on earth has done more to promote female sports than the United States has done, as evidenced by women from all over the world coming here for training and competition opportunities. This ought to strike us as absolutely amazing considering that we are told by activists that without an Equal Rights Amendment to our Constitution women will always be relegated to second-class citizenship. Just as American women have long since surpassed their brethren in academic accomplishment, so too do they now officially outpace them on the international playing fields.
So naturally as we close-out the first quarter of the Twenty-first Century, it is time to let complicated notions of intersectionality ruin all of that. The latest frontier for the cultural warriors has been to allow individuals born with male biological characteristics but who are more comfortable living life as females to participate in female athletics. This idea is taking root despite some of the obvious physical advantages that these trans-women athletes possess over what we now call cis-women. Heavily-moneyed sports organization like the International Olympic Committee and the NCAA are able to apply pretty strict regulations regarding maximum allowable testosterone levels and a minimum timeframe since the transformation process began, but less well-funded entities such as high school athletics associations and masters’ sports leagues continue to struggle to define who is eligible to participate.
So I was very interested to see a lawsuit filed earlier this month by a group of Connecticut high school girls who feels that their trans-female competitors are robbing them of potential scholarships by taking spots in championship meets, thus denying the girls opportunities to be evaluated by college coaches and recruiters. This is the clash of the intersectionality matrix: where compassion for people suffering from gender dysphoria is balanced with the need to provide biological girls with opportunities to have their day in the sun as athletes. It’s a debate that has exacerbated the rift among progressives as the trans rights lobby clashes with a group that they call TERFs — trans exclusionary radical feminists — who seek to protect the “safe spaces” that have been carved out for women over the past half-century.
You can bet that politicians are being called upon to take sides, and it should come as no surprise that a certain type of politician can be counted on to ignore any nuances in the arguments on each side and just let loose with mindless virtue signaling. Behold:
Trans athletes are not a threat. We need to protect trans kids—and all LGBTQ+ kids—and ensure they feel safe and welcomed at school. I urge the Arizona legislature to reject this cruel bill. https://t.co/9ALVjeIBiv
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 20, 2020
Though this situation calls for compassion, and perhaps outright bans are not the best way to negotiate this minefield, the ugly pandering by Lieawatha adds nothing of value to the public debate, and it’s probably as good a reason as any why her Presidential campaign seems destined to come to a close very shortly (knock on wood). It’s going to take a great deal of reasoned compromise to figure out a way of providing opportunity for trans athletes without unfairly disadvantaging their biologically female competitors. In the meantime, it will be awfully interesting to see what twists and turns await the Connecticut lawsuit along the way.