Somehow taking spots away from women

Teen Vogue has an op-ed by a boy who wants to compete against girls instead of boys:

Growing up, I never felt like I fit in. I was trying to be this cool, masculine, teenage boy, but I felt like I was faking it. In high school, I secretly shopped for girls’ clothes at Goodwill and would put them on after school. But when I looked in the mirror, I was so disappointed. I didn’t understand it at the time, but what I was experiencing was gender dysphoria, a deeply painful feeling that comes from knowing that your sex assigned at birth and your body do not reflect your true gender.

He didn’t know it at the time, but what he was experiencing was something socially constructed under the label “gender dysphoria.” It’s not a newly named disease or chronic condition or disability, it’s a politically named discomfort with the social rules for how the two sexes are supposed to look and dress and act. It’s not a medical decision that it’s “gender dysphoria” as opposed to discomfort with puberty, it’s a political decision.

One solace during this confusing time was running. Running was always my passion, but it was only after I joined the cross-country team that I found a community. The four years I spent on my high school track-and-field team and the three years I spent on the cross-country team were the best part of high school. My teammates became my whole friend group, my coaches were my mentors, and the discipline of group practices helped me focus better on my schoolwork. Running with a team gave me confidence, made me feel good, and also helped me forget about my sadness and internal struggles.

Great! Happy ending. Lots of puberty struggles are like that, because mostly It Gets Better. We get used to our adult bodies and get on with life.

But alas, no, in this case it’s not a happy ending, because the new received wisdom is that if you have “Gender Dysphoria” then you have to “come out as” the sex you’re not.

When I started college last fall at Boise State University I took solo runs, but I didn’t try out for track or cross-country. I needed some time to become comfortable with my new identity and college life.

Besides, I couldn’t have tried out even if I’d wanted to. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requires women who are transgender like me to complete 12 months of hormone therapy to suppress testosterone as part of their gender transition before competing. I was already doing this because I needed it for my health, and I knew that by the start of my sophomore year I would be ready to compete again when eligible in the fall of 2020.

He was looking forward to beating all the women this fall, but then – a hitch!

Earlier this year, Idaho legislators introduced HB 500, which not only banned trans girls and women athletes from competing on their school teams, but exposed all girls and women to invasive, intrusive genital testing if anyone challenges their gender. I joined activists and community members in speaking out against the bill at the statehouse, but it passed anyway. On the eve of March 31, Trans Visibility Day, Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law. That meant I could no longer try out for the Boise State track or cross-country teams or participate on any of my university’s sports teams — even club or intramural ones.

No it didn’t, it meant only that he couldn’t do all that on the women’s teams, because he’s not a woman.

It’s interesting that he can tell us how much running did for him, how it improved his life and his studies and everything, while at the same time he’s wholly indifferent to what it might do for girls. The unfair advantage he would have if he could run against women doesn’t seem to cross his mind, or at least he knows he has to ignore it if he wants to fool us into thinking he’s the victim here.

There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about trans people and trans athletes, particularly the misconception that we are men and somehow taking spots away from women. But trans women are women. We have been competing in high school, college, and elite competition consistent with our gender identity for years and there is no evidence of dominance by transgender athletes at any level of sport.

But it’s not a “misconception” that male people are men. They are taking spots away from women if they compete on women’s teams. Trans women are not women, they are men who say they are women. “Gender identity” is a meaningless neologism. Of course there is evidence of dominance by men who say they are women who compete against women. The issue isn’t whether “transgender athletes” dominate, it’s whether transgender men who claim to be women dominate, and of course they do, and yes there’s evidence.

I, like all athletes, participate in sports for the same reasons as my peers: to challenge myself, to improve my fitness, to engage socially, and to be a part of a team. Under Idaho’s new law, I can no longer do that. By crushing my goal of competing on my college running team, it sends a message that as a transgender person I’m not worthy of fully participating in public life and social engagement.

But that’s not true. He can. The law doesn’t bar him from competing on his college running team, it bars him only from running on the girls’ team. It may be that transitioning has given him a disadvantage compared to the boys, but that does not translate to a right to transfer his disadvantage to all the girls on their team. It may be that he’s now not good enough to make the boys’ team, but that’s not the fault or the responsibility of the girls.

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