Trick question

Alistair Magowan at the BBC asks

Transgender women in sport: Are they really a ‘threat’ to female sport?

Helpful of them to put the scare-quotes right in the headline, so that we’ll be primed to answer the question correctly.

The unburied lede:

Rachel McKinnon estimates she has received more than 100,000 hate messages on Twitter since she won her UCI Masters Track World Championship title in October.

Bolding theirs; they always bold the lede. We’re being carefully guided what to think. Wow, more than a hundred thousand hate messages; she she her. It’s all priming.

Magowan says the victory “was controversial in some quarters,” which primes us to think of a minority of angry wackos.

Others have said further examples may “threaten” the participation of women in sport – a view described as “sensationalist” by transgender racing driver Charlie Martin, and as “transphobic” by McKinnon.

More scare quotes. Mind you they may also, or instead, be accurate attribution quotes…but they come across as scare quotes either way, don’t they.

It is a sensitive topic, which poses some difficult questions about how gender is seen in sport, and some “dangerous” ones – according to transgender handball player Hannah Mouncey – about the fundamental right of athletes to participate in sport.

A scare quote for “Hannah” Mouncey…but after a stream of them for the people who think huge men shouldn’t steal prizes from women.

Critics say it is unfair to have a trans woman competing in female sport with a biologically male body, though McKinnon says that view goes against point four of the International Olympic Committee charter, which says: “The practice of sport is a human right.”

And yet that doesn’t say “the practice of sport as a male-bodied woman is a human right.” Lots of charters and constitutions say free speech is a human right; that doesn’t mean we all have a human right to interrupt speeches or shout into people’s windows or threaten people etc etc. Nobody is saying McKinnon must not practice a sport; many people are saying McKinnon should not compete with women in that sport because of the unfair advantage a male body bestows.

Then we get to Hannah Mouncey, who is given many paragraphs to explain how it’s actually women who have the advantage. Then McKinnon and trans racing driver Charlie Martin get many many many paragraphs to explain why they are right. Critics get a name check and that’s about it.

I guess we can tell what we are expected to conclude.

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