TERFs, gender, sex, etc.

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Comments

  • GwaiGwai Epiphanies Host
    Russ wrote: »

    Otherwise you might as well have boxing matches for those who self-identify as lightweight...

    Russ, you are welcome to make your point but this way to put it is insulting to trans people, implying that what their gender identity is false and laughable. That is not appropriate in Epiphanies. Don't.

    Gwai,
    Epiphanies Host
  • MaryLouise wrote: »
    ... It's easy to dismiss gender essentialism in its more simplistic aspects, but it is still key to much radical feminist thinking around the need to create safe spaces for women and children (battered women shelters, rape crisis sanctuaries), a focus on women's reproductive rights, and opposition to prostitution and pornography. In order to understand and counter TERF arguments, I've found myself having to revisit radical feminism and essentialism around cis-women.

    Whenever I ponder what it is that makes me a woman, or makes me feel like a woman, or what is unique about being a woman, or makes me different than a man, the only universal characteristic I can think of that all women share is that a woman is a human being who is treated as less-than-human by human beings who call themselves men.




  • MaryLouise, a fascinating post on gender essentialism. I don't know enough about radical feminism, to say if essentialism plays a large role. But there seems to be resentment about trans women not just invading changing rooms, but female psychological space. Thus, how dare a trans woman talk about female experience. But at this point, female is defined biologically, and trans women are therefore men. It's certainly odd that anti-trans writings seem to stem from right wing media, and some feminists.
  • I forgot to say that second wave feminism objected to the biological underpinning of male/female, leading to the infamous "biology is destiny", and the view that women are intrinsically wives and mothers. But now there seems to be a return to biology by anti-trans feminists.
  • MaryLouise wrote: »
    I've been thinking about the old problem of gender essentialism, a view that predates feminism and keeps popping up in all kinds of contexts. Obama recently argued that women leaders are 'indisputably better' than men at a conference in Singapore.

    The key argument behind gender essentialism, linked to biological determinism and 'whiteness', is that the biological and psychological differences between men and woman are natural, profound, fixed, intrinsic, innate and moral. This essentialism is universal: women everywhere and throughout history are nurturing, empathetic, supportive, non-competitive and feminine. Because of this, women are the gentler sex, programmed to be more compassionate, maternal, caring and self-sacrificing and hence ethically superior to men. Women are nobler, finer beings. They are inherently more profoundly spiritual, more intuitive and in touch with nature.
    OMG does that sound similar to "The Noble Savage".

  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited December 2019
    Sounds to me a bit like the ideas of popular British religious 19th century authors. I think it was Chesterton who argued that women were so fine and noble and spiritually superior that they shouldn't be dirtied by getting involved in politics, voting and other grimy work that was only good for men.

    Or maybe it was Belloc, I can't remember.
  • But presumably TERF-like arguments are saying that women go through certain experiences, such as menstruation, pregnancy, child-birth, which trans women do not have, and cannot have, so they are not women. So it's a rather different essentialism from saying women are the gentler sex.
  • But presumably TERF-like arguments are saying that women go through certain experiences, such as menstruation, pregnancy, child-birth, which trans women do not have, and cannot have, so they are not women. So it's a rather different essentialism from saying women are the gentler sex.
    Some women do not menstruate. Some women cannot have children.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    But presumably TERF-like arguments are saying that women go through certain experiences, such as menstruation, pregnancy, child-birth, which trans women do not have, and cannot have, so they are not women. So it's a rather different essentialism from saying women are the gentler sex.
    Some women do not menstruate. Some women cannot have children.

    Yes. I wasn't agreeing with those arguments. I don't know really if this is essentialism.
  • Women in academia and those who are consultants to business or community consistently report that men have a level of automatic respect attributed to them that has little to do with knowledge or contributions. The playing field is always stacked against them. I write as someone who is a consultant, and who has a wife and daughters who are academics. They happened to be discussing this between them this morning.

    Re the spectrum idea of gender: does spectrum imply to you as it does to me that this is evenly distributed? Perhaps this is my interpretation of the term? When I think of light as a spectrum (this appears to be the origin of the term "spectrum"), I think of sunlight which can be filtered into the colours of the rainbow. However, this is not what gender is at all: rather most people are male or female in self-identification which matches sex as observed at birth. Thus a "bimodal" distribution, along the lines of this but with 2 clear identifications of male, female, and small numbers of exceptional people in between. This general identification for most people of sex=gender (which means chromosomes are observed to determine as well as do genitalia), leads to lack of understanding of those whose equation is sex≠gender, and to their persecution. Does the spectrum idea lead to fears of parents that their children will be led to become something other than sex=gender? The teaching that gender≠sex when for the large majority it does is what causes trouble. This also creates as noted, the probable bogus concern that a few transgender people will somehow have some unfair advantage in some contexts, with sport being the one we've heard about. I can think of only 2 situations, of running and cycling, where this has occurred. I wonder how many hundred, thousands (how many?), situations where there has been no controversy.

    This leads me the situation Rowling commented on. This seems to be a particular situation of someone being mean or a jerk, and inappropriately pressing something, and then of an author inappropriately chiming in.
  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    edited December 2019
    Re. "spectrum", I've never thought of spectrum as implying equal distribution. I'm hesitant to hazard a guess about what gender distribution looks like - we know too little, and I suspect that a lot of what we think we know is still an artefact of the closet.

    But that said, probably more bimodal than equal.
  • Just to throw this open even further (sorry) - it always* struck me as odd that "men and women can't share changing rooms" because of supposed sexual attraction.

    Who says that's why? I'm a man, and I don't really want to change with women. It's not because I'm afraid I might be attracted to one of them, nor is it because I'm afraid that they might be letching after my rather unimpressive form - it's pure culturally-ingrained modesty. I don't want to see naked women, and don't want to expose them to penis. But then again, I also put a shirt on if I'm gardening topless and a female neigbour stops for a chat.

    In a changing room, I shower naked in open showers, as do most other users of the changing rooms. I am completely unconcerned by the slim possibility that one of the gay guys undoubtedly present might be checking me out. It's not about sexual attraction - it's learned culture.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    AIUI while some feminists are biological essentialists and believe in the intrinsic nurturing qualities of women, and are presumably going to be anti-trans-people on those grounds. They are a different group from radical feminists who are the opposite of biological essentialists: they think there ought to be no such thing as gender.
  • I don't have a problem with gender, I have a problem with closed categorisation of gender.
    But that is what we humans do.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited December 2019
    Though it's been said on the Ship before, in case anybody missed it--

    The US has rather different bathroom (restroom, loo) setups than elsewhere. For one, it is rare to find several full cubicles, with their lovely lovely privacy. What you get instead is a completely enclosed (no windows) common area which holds sinks, mirrors, and (if for men) urinals, right out in the open; and then several stalls, which possess side walls and doors with quite large gaps above, below, and between all the parts. These hold the toilets. What this means in practice is that anybody walking by a stall can see you taking a shit, or doing whatever else you're doing (changing clothes? changing menstrual gear?) without even particularly trying to. Privacy is maintained by averting the eyes. Which of course not everybody does, particularly if they are hunting for an empty stall. There's also the fact that mirrors are often hung immediately opposite the stall doors, giving yet another chance for people to get an eyeful through the reflected gaps, will they, nill they.

    That's not even discussing the public restrooms where the stalls have no doors AT ALL... And the ones, very common in airports, parks and swimming pool areas, where the door to the whole area is either permanently open or nonexistent, and there is merely a masonry screen which people walk around to enter the restroom.

    You can see, I hope, why Americans tend to be more paranoid about privacy issues in this setting! This is not a matter of both sexes using a set of enclosed cubicles which afford real privacy.

    Add to that the very real danger of being alone in an unobserved area (no windows or CCTV in restrooms) which is nonetheless accessible and permissible to the general public, and the resulting fear of assault (including but not limited to rape). We put windows in our conference rooms and classrooms for just this reason. We cannot do so with our restrooms.

    So the men only/women only thing is so strong because custom is more or less all we've got in the way of protection, both for body and for ego. There'd be a lot less freaking out if we could retrofit all our buildings to have wholly enclosed cubicle stalls and windows into the common areas.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    NP's long post included:

    This also creates as noted, the probable bogus concern that a few transgender people will somehow have some unfair advantage in some contexts, with sport being the one we've heard about. I can think of only 2 situations, of running and cycling, where this has occurred. I wonder how many hundred, thousands (how many?), situations where there has been no controversy.

    The situation arose here in weightlifting, where it was said that a trans woman still had the benefit of her male muscles; this made it an uneven playing field for those born biologically female.
  • Thing is, in sports it only has to affect one (vocal) individual who feels hard-done-to in order to get all over the news and become a cause celebre. I don't know what the answer is, though.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I agree. In the case I cited, the publicity was started by the woman whose application to register had been refused. Unfortunately for her, the cause turned around and bit her - she got no support that I'm aware of.
  • So then there may be 3 cases, not 2 re international sports? Not enough to actually have a coherent policy in sports in general let alone to have one for each sport. I get the symbolism of someone at a high level as may be thought to set some acceptance example, but there are many more pressing things going in sport than acceptance of someone who doesn't conform to a standard expectation. Like follow the money. It will be interesting as international competition comes to include forms of rock climbing where reach of arms and legs plus strength is important, and apparently also break dancing about which I've no idea if body conformation makes any difference: all to be Olympic competitions.
  • People worried about transwomen in sports should look at the data. While it's true that elite sports are not fair, and never can be fair -- Michael Phelps has advantages that nobody else has, or likely will have -- being transgender doesn't give a woman any particular advantage in sports. That might seem counter-intuitive, but intuition doesn't outweigh data.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    I've been thinking about the old problem of gender essentialism, a view that predates feminism and keeps popping up in all kinds of contexts. Obama recently argued that women leaders are 'indisputably better' than men at a conference in Singapore.

    The key argument behind gender essentialism, linked to biological determinism and 'whiteness', is that the biological and psychological differences between men and woman are natural, profound, fixed, intrinsic, innate and moral. This essentialism is universal: women everywhere and throughout history are nurturing, empathetic, supportive, non-competitive and feminine. Because of this, women are the gentler sex, programmed to be more compassionate, maternal, caring and self-sacrificing and hence ethically superior to men. Women are nobler, finer beings. They are inherently more profoundly spiritual, more intuitive and in touch with nature.
    OMG does that sound similar to "The Noble Savage".

    @lilbuddha, yes. similar typologies and binaries apply.

    And in South Africa before 1994, both gender and race were determined at birth by observation, and race was further defined by 'simple' tests: measuring the width of nostrils, whether a pencil placed in the baby's hair fell out or was caught in tight curls, if blue half-moons were seen on finger nails, the 'dark' colour of the male genitals. This was scientific classification procedure in all hospitals and clinics. If the baby was found to be 'coloured', meaning the father was 'Bantu', mother and child would be moved to a black ward and the mother would be charged as a criminal under the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55 of 1949 that prohibited marriage or a sexual relationship between White people and people of other race groups in South Africa.

    Under apartheid, black and coloured (mixed race) people were considered to be childlike and needing protection from themselves. Black people could not buy or sell liquor because it would lead to uncivilised depravity. Because white women might be raped by black men, rape carried the death penalty. Black women remained legal minors all their lives and could not open bank accounts or own property unless a father, husband or brother signed for them. The Dutch Reformed Church produced a biblical defence of apartheid, based on crude pre-Enlightenment race essentialism.

    At the same time, white South Africa followed Western Orientalist and exoticising tropes in perceptions of black people: the latter had a spontaneity and vitality not found in repressed white culture. The men were super-virile, the women uninhibited sexually; they sang and danced with instinctive grace; they were more intuitive and attuned to nature; they had magical abilities and practised irrational but powerful forms of witchcraft; they were happiest left in an uncivilised pastoral state and were better off not educated as pseudo-Westerners.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    ... It's easy to dismiss gender essentialism in its more simplistic aspects, but it is still key to much radical feminist thinking around the need to create safe spaces for women and children (battered women shelters, rape crisis sanctuaries), a focus on women's reproductive rights, and opposition to prostitution and pornography. In order to understand and counter TERF arguments, I've found myself having to revisit radical feminism and essentialism around cis-women.

    Whenever I ponder what it is that makes me a woman, or makes me feel like a woman, or what is unique about being a woman, or makes me different than a man, the only universal characteristic I can think of that all women share is that a woman is a human being who is treated as less-than-human by human beings who call themselves men.




    This. When Susan Brownmiller published her Against Our Will in 1975, it was the first text to look at rape from a women's perspective. Brownmiller defined rape as "a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear."

    As a woman in a troubled and violent society, I know and love a number of men friends whom I know see women as equals and support the full moral agency of women, stand with women to end rape, who raise their own daughters to be strong powerful women. 'Not all men' are rapists or sexist.

    And yet I live in that 'state of fear', I live in the world described by Susan Brownmiller.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Gwai wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »

    Otherwise you might as well have boxing matches for those who self-identify as lightweight...

    Russ, you are welcome to make your point but this way to put it is insulting to trans people, implying that what their gender identity is false and laughable. That is not appropriate in Epiphanies. Don't.

    Gwai,
    Epiphanies Host

    @Gwai,

    Gender identity is neither false nor laughable, and I'm happy to apologise to anyone who was personally offended by reading the above as saying otherwise.

    I'm suggesting that those who administer sport should not be asked to decide or comment on anyone's gender identity.

    That dividing sport into men's events and women's events is justified by the differences between male and female bodies. And that therefore any judgment as to who is eligible to compete is matter of sex not gender, of the outward visible body not the inner psyche.

    Is it not the case that in order to talk about the real phenomenon of trans people, we need a more refined language than categorizing people as simply male or simply female ?

    I'm trying to follow others' usage here by using "sex" for the objective biology of the body, "gender identity" for the subjective self-perception of the mind, and "gender role" for the sociology of performance as male or female.

    This more refined language frees us from the false binary. We do not have to choose between asserting that trans women are simply women (and therefore have a right to compete in women's events) and asserting that trans women are simply
    KarlLB wrote: »
    ...men pretending to be women...
    .
    We can follow Elizabeth 1 ("I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king") in acknowledging complexity.

    There is no insult to trans people in asserting that the sex of the body is objectively real as well as gender identity being subjectively real.

    Finding ways to deal with that complexity without denying either half of the truth is what it's about.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited December 2019
    Russ wrote: »
    I'm suggesting that those who administer sport should not be asked to decide or comment on anyone's gender identity.

    That dividing sport into men's events and women's events is justified by the differences between male and female bodies. And that therefore any judgment as to who is eligible to compete is matter of sex not gender, of the outward visible body not the inner psyche.

    That's a bold statement that has little qualification. In actual fact, there are few sports where is matters more about your sex than your body shape.

    To me, the objections about who has which outer appearance is laughable given the extreme lengths sportspeople go to in order to change their bodies to compete.

    I'm a fairly small and not very fit male. If I was to try to play rugby against a top international player I would be at great danger of a major injury. It seems to be that in the many layers of sport above my ability that there may be some where people who don't look like me could appropriately compete with people who do.

    Therefore each and every sport which is weeding out inappropriate competitors (either by direct rules or more discreet cultural norms and qualifications) is already in the business of making decisions about who can play. So to me, that's not an argument.

    --

    To be absolutely honest, I believe that in the future many sports are likely to stop. Head injuries are increasing, it seems entirely possible that within a few decades we will see a cascade of delayed impairment which will eventually be impossible to avoid.

    At that point, I suspect sports will go in one of two directions. We will either have a Circus mentality where athletes compete without any consideration of their health for the pure spectacle. In a nightmare scenario, all bans on drugs and assistance would be washed away in the noise of the baying for blood.

    In the other scenario, insurance would shut down all sports deemed to be too dangerous. And I guess we'd have forms of eSports instead, where we are all excited by animated competitors doing things which are now way too dangerous.

    In both scenarios, the differences between "male" and "female" outer body shapes will become increasingly irrelevant.

  • Russ - self identification stops the problem of others having to adjudicate.

    And it's up to people who are trans to decide whether your QE1 style formulation would be offensive or insulting. I think I know how a good proportion of them would reply, however.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Russ - self identification stops the problem of others having to adjudicate.

    And it's up to people who are trans to decide whether your QE1 style formulation would be offensive or insulting. I think I know how a good proportion of them would reply, however.

    That's it in a nutshell. Self-ID means people can stop worrying about someone else, and allow them their privacy.
  • Russ wrote: »
    There is no insult to trans people in asserting that the sex of the body is objectively real as well as gender identity being subjectively real.

    Russ, before commenting further in a field you know little about, please take the time to educate yourself. Start with this article about the biology of sex.

    Follow that up with these three articles:
    1. A detailed discussion of Michael Phelps' unique advantages in his sport.
    2. A brief discussion of the objectively real characteristics of swimmer Michael Phelps and runner Caster Semenya.
    3. Research on transgender women athletes.

    If you have no intent to offend, you'll find it helpful to know a bit more about the issue.
  • The radical gender theorists actually argue that sex is socially (or discursively) constructed. In one way, this is obvious since everyth
  • Sorry, since everything is. The most well-known example is Judith Butler, who also argues that gender is performed, (a bit like drag). This has certain advantages, as you are no longer wrestling with gender identity as a kind of soul, but see it as identifications that you make, many unconsciously. Although also arguably, it makes gender even more bloody complicated.
  • josephine wrote: »
    I'm not sure what you mean. It seems that you trying to say that there is no point separating male and female sport because there will always be someone with a natural advantage.
    2. A brief discussion of the objectively real characteristics of swimmer Michael Phelps and runner Caster Semenya.
    Why is a disorder of sexual development relevant to trans issues? Unless the trans person in question has a DSD it is irrelevant. DSDs seem mostly to be used as an obfuscation, to argue that sex isn't a binary, when for the vast majority of people it absolutely is.
    A very small self-selected study on long distance amateur runners (which is a sport where the differences between men and women are already relatively small) is not proof of anything for elite sports.

    Eric Vilain is quoted in that article. He is one of the person who has been heavily involved in trying to set the criteria for trans athletes, and here is what he has to say, note particularly that they are stressing inclusion more than fairness:
    Vilain told me that the NCAA’s rules were also aimed at inclusivity and that the governing body aims to give everyone the chance to compete. Creating rules around transgender participation, he admitted, was extremely challenging. He said that the entire concept of anatomical equality for transgender athletes was simply not feasible, and thus, it was not a stated goal of the NCAA’s rules.

    “It is not about making everybody biologically equal, and I think that is a common misconception when we start talking about transgender athletes,” he said. “People want transgender [females] to be physiologically identical to [born] females, and if they’re not, it’s unfair. That is not possible.”

    Dr. Vilain referenced the structure of the pelvis and the mass of certain muscle groups as anatomical differences between the male and female body that will always be somewhat different. But achieving total equality is not the point, Dr. Vilain said. The purpose of the NCAA’s rules is to, in a sense, shift the transgender female athlete’s muscle mass and physiology away from that of the average male. The goal is to create a pathway to include the transgender athlete, not create total equality.

    “Can you turn a man’s body into a woman’s body? The short answer is ‘no,” Vilain said. “I think we need to move past that idea completely.”

    There simply isn't sufficient research out there at the moment to quantify what advantage a trans woman would have when competing in elite sports. The current olympic criteria only came into play in 2015, and 2020 is the earliest we will potentially see the results. I think it is naive in the extreme to think that there won't be some countries or individuals who will try and exploit the rules (given what happened in East Germany in the 70s/80s and what appears to be happening in Russia now). And it is already being argued that it is transphobic to have any criteria for trans inclusion, with Caster being prominently cited as a reason why.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    That's a bold statement that has little qualification. In actual fact, there are few sports where is matters more about your sex than your body shape.

    To me, the objections about who has which outer appearance is laughable given the extreme lengths sportspeople go to in order to change their bodies to compete.

    I'm a fairly small and not very fit male. If I was to try to play rugby against a top international player I would be at great danger of a major injury. It seems to be that in the many layers of sport above my ability that there may be some where people who don't look like me could appropriately compete with people who do.

    Therefore each and every sport which is weeding out inappropriate competitors (either by direct rules or more discreet cultural norms and qualifications) is already in the business of making decisions about who can play. So to me, that's not an argument.

    Women have been fighting for generations to be able to have equal recognition and opportunity in sports, but this approach would destroy all they've fought for utterly.

    The starting point matters. A top female athlete in pretty much every sport is never going to be able to compete with an elite male, even though they would thrash me or you.
  • Ciontinuing this discussion @quantpole
    When we talk of males and females in the biological sense re observed differences in genitalia, the two most common forms of humans in the bimodal distribution, and if we take the average difference between populations of men and women so defined, men on average will have larger body size and more strength than women. This is the "between group difference".

    If we take the variation from within these two groups, and look at the "within group variation", on many (?most ?all) characteristics, the differences between the groups is far less important than the variation within.

    The mean or average differences are fact, but the fact of an average difference tells us lies about the significance of the mean differences between the groups. For average people not in elite competition, these differences don't matter much. This noted, the people competing internationally are not average people. They are special in that they tend to have more of the abilities which promote success at their sports. Thus, the differences among them will be smaller, and if there is introduction of something which changes the pool of elite people they're competing against, there will be something to discuss. Whatever it is.

    At my older adult age (60s) I continue to compete in two sports. I have been involved in nearly all physical activities available. This is not because I have special abilities, superior strength or anything else: it's because this was valued and emphasized when I was young. (There's another topic as to why people take themselves out of physical activity, sport, and activity in general, and the mental and physical health consequences of this.) One of the sports I continue with has a co-ed team (meaning men and women). Men are not allowed to score in this one. Because the average ability in the league is recognized to be greater among the men and shots can injure if delivered typically as men can. Women can and do deliver strong shots, but not at the average level of the men. The difference between the groups is recognized to be important within this competition. In this friendly league (standings are kept but not relevant to anything), the younger men and women have clear advantages (the league is >35 years). I happen to be very fast for a person in his 60s, although of parent age to some others. I do not challenge physically any more at my age so I'm not injured by the young hot-shots. I suspect if a trangender person played there might have to be re-discussion of the scoring rules, but suspect that the league would simply operate by the usual rule of "don't be a jerk", and let that person determine how they'd play. Which is what happens between the younger and older in this friendly league. This is entirely different that at elite levels.

    In the other sport I'm still in, the teams are men, women or mixed. The differences between them make no difference except in certain situations where male strength is a variable, but this is rare in this sport.

    I've participated in other sports, both team and individual. Some mixed, some not. The level of competition has been the variable of interest when there's concern about the male biological sex advantage.
  • LouiseLouise Epiphanies Host
    hosting
    Hi Russ,
    Please do not argue with hosts who are posting as hosts, or discuss their host posts to you on this board. If you have something to say about a host post from Gwai, then the Styx is where you should say it, not here where Gwai cannot reply to you without posting and hosting on the same thread.

    You are on a warning from the admins for sealioning, if you start pettifogging about the vocabulary used by others and the hosts judge this to be tactic to derail/bog down discussion, we will draw it to the attention of the admins.

    People engaging with Russ should be aware that he has a warning for sealioning on this board against him. If you feel he's bogging you down with constant questions about minor details or quibbling definitions- then you should feel free to disengage from his posts and to answer other people who do not do this.

    Louise
    Epiphanies Host
    hosting off

  • quantpole wrote: »
    It seems that you trying to say that there is no point separating male and female sport because there will always be someone with a natural advantage.
    I'm trying to say that, in elite sports, there is no level playing field.
    Why is a disorder of sexual development relevant to trans issues? Unless the trans person in question has a DSD it is irrelevant.
    The relevant point was that, among elite athletes, variations in lactic acid production are treated very differently from variations in testosterone production.
    DSDs seem mostly to be used as an obfuscation, to argue that sex isn't a binary, when for the vast majority of people it absolutely is.
    The majority of people treat it as binary. That doesn't mean that it is binary. I've already shared one article twice. Let's try a different one. It's a little simpler than the other one.
    A very small self-selected study on long distance amateur runners (which is a sport where the differences between men and women are already relatively small) is not proof of anything for elite sports.
    Of course a very small self-selected study is not proof. But do you really want to assign elite athletes into double-blinded studies with thousands of people in them? And how would that work anyway?

    It won't. But the lack of gold-standard evidentiary studies doesn't mean you can't generate meaningful evidence where it's possible and ethical to do so, and to draw conclusions from them.

    Honestly, though, I don't know that "where transgender people fit into the scheme of elite sport" is particularly meaningful or important to the understanding of sex or gender, or to the experience of the vast majority of transgender people. The issues related to elite athletes seem mostly to be used as an obfuscation, to distract from more fundamental issues.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    josephine wrote: »
    I'm trying to say that, in elite sports, there is no level playing field.

    In the sense that natural inborn ability plays a significant role, that's clearly true.
    The relevant point was that, among elite athletes, variations in lactic acid production are treated very differently from variations in testosterone production.
    Because high testosterone levels may be the result of cheating. Either by some form of drug or by someone who should be in the man's event entering a women's event. That the administrators of sport are aware of and on the lookout for cheating seems like it ought to be uncontroversial.
    DSDs seem mostly to be used as an obfuscation, to argue that sex isn't a binary, when for the vast majority of people it absolutely is.
    The majority of people treat it as binary. That doesn't mean that it is binary. I've already shared one article twice. Let's try a different one. It's a little simpler than the other one.

    You're right - it makes the point more clearly. Some people are functionally female ("who can do all the usual 'female' things like gestate babies") and some functionally male.

    It could have added that nobody is functionally both and a small proportion of people are functionally neither, but that's not the writer's main point.

    He's using a statistical index (a weighted sum of all sorts of variables that are to some degree correlated with functional maleness / femaleness. And finding that this index is a better predictor of endocrine responses across the population than a binary variable which takes only values M and F.

    He's interested in "individualised medicine" - improving the efficacy of medical treatment by tailoring it to the balance of sex-related hormones in each patient - and that's all to the good.

    What's questionable is taking a soundbite like "sex is a spectrum" out of context.

    If his interest were in athletic performance, his statistical method would give a different indicator (a different weighted sum of characteristics). And his graph might look different. One of the other articles you linked to says that typical male levels of testosterone are 10 to 15 times typical female levels. Which both implies a rather different graph, and takes for granted a population of well-defined male or female subjects whose data underpins that statistic.
    Honestly, though, I don't know that "where transgender people fit into the scheme of elite sport" is particularly meaningful or important to the understanding of sex or gender, or to the experience of the vast majority of transgender people. The issues related to elite athletes seem mostly to be used as an obfuscation, to distract from more fundamental issues.

    You seem to be appealing to "the experience of the vast majority of transgender people" here, having earlier dismissed the experience of the vast majority of people (that sex is binary) as being not necessarily true.

    I don't understand why you're linking to articles about elite athletes if you think it's not really relevant ?

    It seems like there's no easily-measurable indicator which corresponds with 100% reliability to whether someone is functionally male or female. Which is an issue for sport. Can we agree thus far ?
  • I think everyone acknowledges that sport has sought to divide the sexes, largely because only men were traditionally allowed to compete.

    The question is whether that's in any sense justifiable given that it excludes people.
  • The common argument is that women's sport is preserved by separation. I don't know enough about the performance of trans athletes, to comment. There are obviously arguments b
  • Sorry, both ways.
  • And I think @josephine makes an important point: this is really mostly about we deal with atypical physiology in competitive sports, and only tangentially about transgender per se (as illustrated by the fact that so much of this debate focuses on Caster Semenya, who of course is not trans).
  • Russ wrote: »
    You seem to be appealing to "the experience of the vast majority of transgender people" here, having earlier dismissed the experience of the vast majority of people (that sex is binary) as being not necessarily true.

    Despite what flat-earthers, climate change skeptics, and young earth creationists might tell you, you can't determine what's true by taking a vote of people who don't understand the subject.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    This also creates as noted, the probable bogus concern that a few transgender people will somehow have some unfair advantage in some contexts, with sport being the one we've heard about. I can think of only 2 situations, of running and cycling, where this has occurred. I wonder how many hundred, thousands (how many?), situations where there has been no controversy.

    I don't think it's even slightly controversial to suggest that trans women have, in sporting terms, the advantage of growing up with male biology, and the muscular and skeletal results of that. Men tend to be bigger and stronger than women; trans women tend to be bigger and stronger than cis women for the same reason. It's really not all about the T, although that has an effect.

    The Harper study to which josephine referred is based on self-reported race times from eight people. It shows a significant testosterone effect in distance running speeds, and makes the claim that trans women with lowered T do not outperform cis women. It's perfectly fine for what it is, but what it is is self-reported data from eight people. It's barely a step above documented anecdote.

    On the flip side, there aren't very many trans women, so as a consequence the number of people who are both trans women and interested in training to be an elite athlete is not high. There's also the fact that many trans women have been concerned with emphasizing the feminine in their presentation, and being an elite athlete doesn't help with that. So it shouldn't be surprising that the question hasn't come up all that often.

    As has been frequently pointed out, elite athletes all have biological advantages. Yes, they train hard and all that, but they also won the genetic lottery when it comes to muscle mass, proportion of fast twitch muscles, freakishly large shoulders, being more that 7 feet tall, or whatever other advantage is relevant for their chosen sport. So I tend to think the question of what to do with trans women in sport might be even more relevant at the club level (where athletes are more like normal people) than at the elite level.

    When Rachel McKinnon won the cycling world championship in her age range, much was made of the photo of the winners' podium, on which she towers like a proverbial brick privy over her competitors. Her build gives her an obvious biomechanical advantage, and derives from her biological male youth. But it it really different from someone like swimmer Sharron Davies, who is a cis woman, but is also powerfully built?

    A lot of this seems to be tied up with the idea that being trans is a choice, and that's not really the way that trans people describe it.

    I don't have solutions, but I think it's a genuinely difficult problem, and many of the arguments on both sides are correct.


  • I was reading some of the fracas around JK Rowling's latest attack on trans people, and her supporters often use the phrase "sex is real". Presumably, there is a silent clause, "and gender isn't". Otherwise I don't get the comments about sex. (Google JK Rowling Twitter for information).

    Surely, nobody is saying that sex isn't real. But gender identity goes beyond the biological to adduce cultural, social and psychological factors, so that I can say I feel male, or I don't, or I feel neither male nor female, and so on. And I present myself in various ways to convey my felt identity.

    I don't get why this is considered not real.

    Happy Christmas!
  • Correction, of course I might present myself in ways to conceal or contradict my felt identity.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    quetzalcoatl

    I did some second hand fact checking and snopes is worth reading.
  • I was reading some of the fracas around JK Rowling's latest attack on trans people, and her supporters often use the phrase "sex is real". Presumably, there is a silent clause, "and gender isn't". Otherwise I don't get the comments about sex. (Google JK Rowling Twitter for information).

    Surely, nobody is saying that sex isn't real. But gender identity goes beyond the biological to adduce cultural, social and psychological factors, so that I can say I feel male, or I don't, or I feel neither male nor female, and so on. And I present myself in various ways to convey my felt identity.

    I don't get why this is considered not real.

    Happy Christmas!

    I suppose the issue is that people quite frequently imagine and claim they are things that they are self-evidently not.

    If we were to walk down the street and meet a Stormtrooper, i would probably assume they were into cos-play or an actor. If they spoke and made us believe that they really were a person living within a fictional world that only exists in books and movies, I doubt we would come to the conclusion that they were Stormtroopers just because they said they were.

    So if someone says that they feel something about their gender identity that visually nobody can see, then we/they must be saying this is a different kind of thing than other things that people might claim about themselves.

    To be clear: I think it is. But I'm not really able to articulate to myself how exactly it is different.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    quetzalcoatl

    I did some second hand fact checking and snopes is worth reading.

    But JK repeats the error that the court case in relation to Forstater was about sex being real. It wasn't. Sex is real has become a transphobic flag.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    I was reading some of the fracas around JK Rowling's latest attack on trans people, and her supporters often use the phrase "sex is real". Presumably, there is a silent clause, "and gender isn't". Otherwise I don't get the comments about sex. (Google JK Rowling Twitter for information).

    Surely, nobody is saying that sex isn't real. But gender identity goes beyond the biological to adduce cultural, social and psychological factors, so that I can say I feel male, or I don't, or I feel neither male nor female, and so on. And I present myself in various ways to convey my felt identity.

    I don't get why this is considered not real.

    Happy Christmas!

    I suppose the issue is that people quite frequently imagine and claim they are things that they are self-evidently not.

    If we were to walk down the street and meet a Stormtrooper, i would probably assume they were into cos-play or an actor. If they spoke and made us believe that they really were a person living within a fictional world that only exists in books and movies, I doubt we would come to the conclusion that they were Stormtroopers just because they said they were.

    So if someone says that they feel something about their gender identity that visually nobody can see, then we/they must be saying this is a different kind of thing than other things that people might claim about themselves.

    To be clear: I think it is. But I'm not really able to articulate to myself how exactly it is different.

    Identity is tricky. Psychoanalysts have often said that communicating it is always a failure, which is rather pessimistic. But normally, I'm happy to accept someone's self-description or self-presentation. For example, one of my oldest friends used to say he felt female, although he didn't transition. Well, he could have been lying of course. Also, a lot of trans people go through hell, in order to come out. I tend to believe them.
  • Sex is real. It just isn’t binary.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Sex is real. It just isn’t binary.

    Yes, but the transphobes are using the phrase as short-hand for "sex is real and trans is a delusion".
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited December 2019
    Blahblah wrote: »
    I was reading some of the fracas around JK Rowling's latest attack on trans people, and her supporters often use the phrase "sex is real". Presumably, there is a silent clause, "and gender isn't". Otherwise I don't get the comments about sex. (Google JK Rowling Twitter for information).

    Surely, nobody is saying that sex isn't real. But gender identity goes beyond the biological to adduce cultural, social and psychological factors, so that I can say I feel male, or I don't, or I feel neither male nor female, and so on. And I present myself in various ways to convey my felt identity.

    I don't get why this is considered not real.

    Happy Christmas!

    I suppose the issue is that people quite frequently imagine and claim they are things that they are self-evidently not.

    If we were to walk down the street and meet a Stormtrooper, i would probably assume they were into cos-play or an actor. If they spoke and made us believe that they really were a person living within a fictional world that only exists in books and movies, I doubt we would come to the conclusion that they were Stormtroopers just because they said they were.

    So if someone says that they feel something about their gender identity that visually nobody can see, then we/they must be saying this is a different kind of thing than other things that people might claim about themselves.

    To be clear: I think it is. But I'm not really able to articulate to myself how exactly it is different.

    Identity is tricky. Psychoanalysts have often said that communicating it is always a failure, which is rather pessimistic. But normally, I'm happy to accept someone's self-description or self-presentation. For example, one of my oldest friends used to say he felt female, although he didn't transition. Well, he could have been lying of course. Also, a lot of trans people go through hell, in order to come out. I tend to believe them.

    Yes, I agree the level of pain does give credibility.

    Although (unfortunately) we don't apply the same rules to other kinds of identity.

    Someone who has been through incredible trauma to leave a terrible situation to be smuggled into safety in a different country is not rewarded as truly being a different nationality to the one they ran from simply because they nearly killed themselves crossing desert, mountain and sea.

    We might think that the effort shows that they really really did not want their national identity but I don't know how many would go as far as to say that the level of pain indicates that they are something else.
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