How difficult it is to draw a sharp distinction

Laurie Penny again pretending we all know that sex is a spectrum and that we’ve always known that and that there’s just no question about it:

The suggestion that two transgender women were close to being selected for the British Olympic team was met with outrage earlier this month. LGBT advocates were upset that trans athletes would have to face any queries at all over their right to compete as women, while others insisted that only “biological females” should do so.

Well, yes, biological females, as always. Why the scare quotes?

We are assured that the inclusion of trans women in Olympic sports, which is now possible after a rule change, is unfair because they will have a “natural advantage” over other women.

And “we” are assured that because it’s true. Of course men have an advantage over women. Humans are sexually dimorphic; that’s just reality.

Penny goes on to play the “all competitive athletes have an advantage” card, which is just infantile.

The debates about sport show just how difficult it is to draw a sharp distinction between men and women, between male and female bodies. What should a “woman” be, for the purposes of professional sport?

No, it isn’t difficult at all, and what a woman should be for the purposes of professional sport is a woman.

… there are times when you have to wonder what story people think they’re living in. Even the most culturally oblivious commentator can recognise when they have become the villain in a feel-good sports movie about plucky underdogs overcoming prejudice.

Ah yes and Laurel Hubbard is the plucky underdog, is he? White, rich, middle-aged, male Laurel Hubbard? Not the young Tongan and Samoan women who have to compete against him?

Yet the question remains: what are exceptional athletes to do when they don’t fit into arbitrarily chosen biological categories on whose terms excellence is measured?

The categories are not arbitrarily chosen.

In sport, bodies are quite literally contested. Women’s participation was always an afterthought: the 2012 games in London were the first Olympics in which women took part in every sport. 

Exactly, and that’s why we don’t want to see women’s participation trashed by other means now! Every man allowed to compete as a woman means a woman loses a place, in addition to the fact that all the women are now at a disadvantage.

I hope one day Laurie Penny feels scorching shame over this betrayal.

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