The Transgender Debate Moves To The Sports Field

The Transgender Debate Moves To The Sports Field

As the Olympics loom, the transgender debate is about to move from the bathroom to the playing field, where the incoherence of the trans agenda is obvious.
John Daniel Davidson
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With the Olympics looming, the transgender debate is about to move from the bathroom to the playing field. But in high school sports programs across America, far from the glare of Olympic stadiums, it already has.

In response to the Obama administration’s recent directive to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity, schools are adopting sports policies that reveal the incoherence and fundamental unfairness of the trans agenda.

In Alaska, an 18-year-old male athlete competed against women last week in the state high school track and field championships. The student, 18-year-old Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, an immigrant from Thailand who identifies as female, finished fifth in the women’s 100-meter and third in the 200-meter. His times in those races were far below the qualifying and final times for the men’s races.

Perusing the results, it’s easy to see how the other female athletes might think that allowing an 18-year-old male to race against them isn’t fair. One female athlete, who won the 3,200-meter race, said so plainly: “I don’t know what’s politically correct to say, but in my opinion your gender is what you’re born with. It’s the DNA. Genetically a guy has more muscle mass than a girl, and if he’s racing against a girl, he may have an advantage.”

At Least The Olympics Recognizes The Problem

As it happens, on the question of muscle mass the International Olympic Committee actually agrees. Back in January, the IOC scrapped a policy adopted in 2003 that required transgender athletes to have completed sex reassignment surgery followed by at least two years of hormone therapy in order to compete.

Although the new IOC rule has no surgery mandates, it does have different requirements for the sexes. Female-to-male transgender athletes will be allowed to compete in men’s competitions “without restriction,” although we’re unlikely to see any such athletes at Rio or in any other elite international competition.

The rules are different for male-to-female transgender athletes, who are “biologically male” and therefore have higher levels of testosterone. These athletes arguably enjoy a physical advantage over their female competitors, which is why the IOC now requires them to demonstrate that their testosterone levels are below a certain level for at least a year prior to their first competition.

Schools Have Adopted Incoherent Trans Policies

High school administrators in America are unencumbered by such reasoning. The Alaska School Activities Association, which oversees all interscholastic sports in the state, rushed to be among the first administrative bodies in the nation to embrace the Obama administration’s expansive view of transgender policy in public schools. In April, the board voted unanimously to accept whatever transgender policies individual schools and school districts adopt, and also said it would not hear appeals from schools that object to the transgender policies adopted by other schools. That means, for instance, if a girls’ basketball team has a problem playing against a school that allows boys to play on the girls’ team, too bad.

In a hopelessly ham-fisted attempt to be fair, ASAA also ruled that if a school hasn’t adopted a specific transgender policy, it must require students to participate based on the “gender assigned to them at birth.” ASAA also decided that “gender determination” will remain in effect throughout a student’s high school career—or as ASAA Executive Director Billy Stickland told the Associated Press last month, “You can’t feel like a boy for wrestling and a girl for basketball.”

The goal here is obvious: force all schools to affirm the view of transgenderism taken by the Obama administration. Some schools promptly did just that—although they couldn’t manage to adopt a policy without using language that exposes the absurdly retrograde and misogynistic premises of the trans agenda. Public school administrators at rural Haines High School, where Wangyot is a student, came up with this: “For the purposes of gender identification for interscholastic activities, the district will consider the gender identity based on the student’s consistent declaration of gender identity, their actions, attitude, dress and mannerisms.”

Dress like a lady and act like a girl, in other words, and you can play on the girls’ team.

The incoherence of such a policy is both obvious and shameful. What would the school do if Wangyot decided he wanted to dress and act like a boy while maintaining he still “identifies” as a girl? Would that run afoul of the policy? Would the school insist he “dress like a girl” and display “girl mannerisms”? Who will decide if he’s acting girly enough, or if his clothes correspond to his gender identity?

Let’s Call Transgenderism What It Is

Or what if, in the rush of puberty, a trans teen simply changes his or her mind and goes back to identifying with the “gender assigned to them at birth”? Worse than causing confusion for schools and students, regret among transgender people can be deadly.

The Left dismisses these concerns as disingenuous and bigoted, while the media does its best to ignore them altogether. (Did you know that there were two transgender suicides in one week in the small town of Missoula, Montana, last year? Of course you didn’t.)

Yet several studies suggest transgender people have higher rates of suicide and morbidity than the population at large, and that a significant share (20 percent, in one study) regret going through with their sex change operations.

As high schools across the country hasten to show their support for the new national consensus on transgenderism, parents and teachers and students who disagree should speak up. It’s not just unfair to female track athletes who are forced to race against members of the opposite sex. Above all, it’s unfair to the confused teenager whose disordered understanding of sexuality is reinforced by adults who ought to know better.

John is the Political Editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.
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