His views have “evolved”

Sean Ingle notes that the discussion has changed.

The Guardian has obtained a letter, written in 2003 by Dr Richard Budgett, in which he discusses the consequences of trans women competing in women’s sport. Responding to a government inquiry, Budgett, then at the British Olympic Association, states: “The effect of allowing male transsexuals to compete as women would be to make competition unfair and potentially dangerous in some sports and would undermine women’s sports.”

Ya think? It’s still weird that anyone would have to say that, let alone that he would “evolve” to stop saying it.

Society has shifted. Language has changed. Budgett is now medical and scientific director at the International Olympic Committee. And his views, according to IOC sources, have evolved – particularly when it comes to finding ways to balance the need for inclusion and fairness in sport.

There is no “need for inclusion” in sport of the “men can compete against women” type. Inclusion in sport should mean making sure disadvantaged people get more opportunities and help; it should not mean making sure men replace some women in women’s sport.

A controversial new IOC framework, drawn up in part by Budgett, adopts a strikingly different stance. While stressing that men’s and women’s competition should be “fair and safe”, it also tells sports that, “until evidence determines otherwise”, trans athletes “should not be deemed to have an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage”.

As I pointed out the other day, that’s a sneaky evasive cowardly way of putting it, because the issue isn’t “trans athletes” but men. Men have an unfair and disproportionate competitive advantage over women. Everybody knows that, but way too many people are determined to cover it up.

This is something being done to women, and there is no equivalent being done to men. Wouldn’t you think that should be enough to alert people to how fucked up it is? There can’t be any equivalent, ever, because men are bigger and stronger than women, end of story. The equivalent being done to men would have to be allowing adult male gorillas to compete against men. I don’t see any plans to do that currently.

No magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all policy can satisfy all sides. The issue involves competing rights and strong emotions. Worryingly a recent UK Sports Councils Equality Group report also found that women in sport were told to keep quiet by their national governing bodies and feared abuse on social media if they voiced their opinions.

The issue does not involve “competing rights.” There is no “right” for men to compete against women and shatter all their records, while the women are told to shut up. That’s not a right, it’s a fucking insult.

Yet perhaps times are changing. At the Sport Resolutions dispute resolution service last week several experts were able to discuss openly and courteously what sports should do next. It made for fascinating listening. For David Grevemberg, of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, inclusion mattered most. And if sport had to radically change, then it should. “Are there ways, that are not infringing on human rights, to create a level playing field?” he asked. “Are there other conditions that we can create – for example staggered starts in the 100m? Or delayed starts?”

No. Just no. Stop. Leave the women alone. Letting men compete against women creates a very tilted playing field indeed.

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