The ostensible purpose of this EO is to implement a host of measures related to civic rights of same-sex-attracted and so-called “transgender” persons, including that “adults should be able to earn a living without worrying about being fired or demoted because of who they go home to”; “every person should be treated with respect and dignity without regard to . . . whom they love”; and for the purposes of this column, the most important: “children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, locker room, or school sports.”
While couched in deliberately innocuous and even sympathetic language, this bromide introduces gender ideology as the official policy of the Biden administration.
Whatever social good it may accomplish, the Transgender EO is the beginning of the end for women’s athletics. If it is implemented in law and pursuant regulations, it will deny opportunities for girls and women to compete in organized sport.
And even short of that, the EO is the first step in denying girls and women the right to use restrooms and locker rooms without the anxiety of wondering if boys and men will intrude on their privacy and modesty.
Our non-negotiable, bedrock duty to treat all people with charity and sympathy does not compel us to give even the slightest nod to the scientifically absurd assertion that “transgender women are women,” which is equivalent to assertions that the earth is flat or the moon is made of green cheese. It is not science. It is ideology.
Rooted in ideological commitment, the policy augurs the end of girls’ and women’s athletic competition, because it includes forcing females to compete against males, solely based on a male’s assertion that he “identifies” as female.
Remarkably, the Transgender EO does not require the male athlete to take any hormone suppressing drugs or otherwise to attempt to alter his biology in order to qualify for competition in the women’s category. Rather, to line up in the starting blocks against Sally, all Jack has to do is declare that he identifies as a woman. This is the official position of the Biden administration.
The route by which we’ve come to this point has not been devoid of nastiness.
Puritans of this ideology chastised Martina Navratilova, an early champion of the rights of same-sex-attracted athletes (and arguably the greatest female tennis player in history), for stating the obvious: It is unfair to force females to participate in athletic contests against males. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” she tweeted in 2018.
Led by a transgender cyclist named Rachel McKinnon (now going by the name Veronica Ivy), who dominates opponents in women’s cycling events, the transgender magisterium universally condemned Navratilova for her apostacy from the true faith.
After apologizing for the tone of her tweet, she defended the substance of her position in a February 17, 2019 article in The Times of London.
As a result, Navratilova found herself wearing the TERF label — for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist” — i.e. a transphobic bigot.
In athletic competitions that are judged by keeping time or by measuring distance, length, or height, good (not great) male athletes overwhelmingly outperform elite female counterparts. For example, female Olympic and world champion Allyson Felix has a lifetime best in the 400 meters of 49.26 seconds. In 2018, 275 American high school boys ran faster times on 783 occasions. These are high school boys’ performances compared to the world and Olympic women’s champion.
We have seen the real-life results of forcing elite female high school athletes to compete against mediocre male athletes.
In the state of Connecticut, two male sprinters have recently dominated female competition at high school track and field events, displacing females from state championship podiums and skewing girls’ state records. In neither case have the male athletes done anything more than declare that they are “transgender,” with the blessing of the state of Connecticut.
International youth track and field records are the times and distances performed by athletes who will not reach their 18th birthday in the year of the performance, which is years if not a decade or more before their peak potential. According to data compiled by Duke Law School professors Doriane Lambelet Coleman and Wickliffe Shreve, in every event, the male youth records are substantially faster, longer, or higher than the women’s world records.
In most cases, hundreds of boys’ performances are superior to the women’s records. Women’s world records, when athletes are at the very peak of their athletic potential, are consistently inferior to good high-school-aged male athletes, years away from their potential best times. When elite men are measured against elite women, there is no comparison: the number of superior results reaches the tens of thousands. Biology doesn’t care about ideology.
This is madness. It is madness well on its way to becoming national policy.
Kenneth Craycraft is an attorney and the James J. Gardner Family Chair of Moral Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology, in Cincinnati.
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