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Why don’t trans activists practise what they preach? What's so 'kind' about threatening me with violence for airing my views?

Trans activists: shouting in the streets, and writing sinister tweets. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty

Trans activists: shouting in the streets, and writing sinister tweets. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty


November 23, 2018   5 mins

Last month, Rachel McKinnon won the world title in the women’s 35-44 sprint at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships. Under normal circumstances, such an achievement would have gone unnoticed by most of the public. But this win was controversial: McKinnon was male — a self-identified transwoman.

On Twitter, McKinnon celebrated, announcing: “First transgender woman world champion…ever.” Jennifer Wagner-Assali, the woman who came in third, wasn’t so pleased. She tweeted: “It’s definitely NOT fair.”

Wagner-Assali later apologised for “not properly congratulating” McKinnon and for “fanning the flames”.

But let’s not pretend she doesn’t have a point. Men and women’s bodies are different. Men are, quite simply, bigger. They have larger organs, bigger bones, and a higher ratio of muscle mass; they have bigger lungs, bigger hearts, and higher oxygen carrying capacity than women. They are generally stronger and faster than women.

Men and women are biologically different in many ways beyond this, but for the purposes of discussing what is “fair” and what is not, in sport, these points are obvious to most. The truth is, there is no possible way to change an adult male, physiologically, into a female.

Despite being a self-declared expert on “the ethics, law, and science of trans athletics”, McKinnon ignores this. Instead, he cites his “human right” to compete, accusing his detractors of having an “irrational fear of transwomen”. As he writes:

“I’m a professor. I teach courses on ethics, including sports ethics, and I’m teaching a course on sport and gender, focusing on the question: Is it fair for trans women to compete in women’s sport? My work answers that question clearly. Yes, it is fair.”

He qualifies this by simply saying that his ID now says he is female. The whole episode pretty much sums up the problem with gender identity ideology and legislation: when males are allowed to change their legal sex on official documents, women get shafted.

The transgender movement has yet to demonstrate what the difference is between a “transwoman” and a male. In fact, it has yet to define what it means to be transgender in any coherent way. But it isn’t even being asked to – all it is being asked for is the correct ID.

So an athlete who competed as a male last year is allowed to compete alongside women today, and any man who declares himself a woman has the right to enter women’s changing rooms, transition houses and washrooms. Those who dispute or question this are called “cruel”, “hateful”, and “bigoted”, and told to live and let live.

In Canada, something similar has happened. A biological man who self-identifies as a woman been calling beauty salons demanding a “Brazilian bikini wax”. When he was refused treatment – waxing male genitalia requires a different technique and supplies, besides the female beauticians might not feel entirely comfortable carrying out the procedure  – he claimed discrimination on account of the fact that he is a “transwoman”. He filed 16 complaints on this basis at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, citing discrimination on the basis of “gender identity”. But what of the rights of the woman asked to wax a man’s scrotum?

And then you have the blatantly abusive cases. Such as that of Karen White (previously Stephen Terence Wood), who was moved to a women’s prison despite numerous rape charges, and, who within days of arriving, attacked four women. In May, nine women filed a lawsuit against Naomi’s House, a shelter for homeless women, and its parent company, the Poverello House, after a man identifying as female was allowed to stay at the shelter, and sexually harassed numerous residents.

The consequences of self-identification can range from the unjust to the criminal. And in all cases it’s the women who are forced to put aside their comfort and safety to accommodate this choice. But when challenged, trans activists like McKinnon reply: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Let’s be kind to each other.”

Being kind is all fine and good, but when it comes to dramatic policy and legislative changes that have harmful effects on women, we need rational, evidence-based arguments, not appeals to people’s emotions. Unfortunately, though, this is complicated by the fact that there is a troubling trend among young college-age “social justice activists” that expects people to fall in line through emotional manipulation, with no attempt at a convincing argument.

I’ve seen this first hand. Last month, I gave a talk in Kitchener, Ontario about the impact of trans activism on women’s rights. What was most interesting (and revealing) to me were the questions and comments from trans activists. One young woman asked, “How do you think your non-inclusive perception of woman and your non-inclusive language actually affects transgender people… [Do] you think you’re hurting their feelings?” In other words, rather than address any of the arguments I’d made in my talk, respond to any of the questions I’d asked or to any of the concerns I’d brought up, she wanted to talk about people’s “feelings”.

When I asked her to define the word “woman,” she replied, “I don’t want to be put on the spot.” When I asked why the word “woman” shouldn’t exclude men, she didn’t respond, and repeated, “I’m wondering how you think your words are affecting people’s feelings.”

I said, “Your words are affecting people’s lives.” Afterwards, the young woman tweeted, “I want to cry because I was just asking this question in attempt to understand if this woman possesses basic empathy… Deeply saddened by the blatant hate at this event yesterday.”

Far from uncommon, this is a go-to strategy on the parts of trans activists. When asked to explain their claims that “transwomen are women”, that individuals can change their sex, or, simply, what a “transwoman” or a “woman” is, they will refuse to respond, and instead accuse the questioner of being “mean,” “hurtful,” “hateful” or “bigoted”.

It’s a successful tactic, since most people do not wish to be considered “bad” or “hateful”. But when it comes to debating ideas and public policy, it makes no sense to avoid critical thinking or evidence, lest we upset those lobbying for the changes or ideology. Imagine if we were asked not to debate war or capitalism or climate change, lest it hurt the feelings of warmongers and capitalists and climate change deniers?

But beyond that, since when did being “nice” entail lying? Or rejecting critical thought? Is it “nice” to accept dogma one believes is harmful or irrational? If someone told you the earth was flat, would you agree in order to avoid hurting their feelings?

Jonathan Haidt, author of The Coddling of the American Mind, sees this trend as having originated on college campuses, where students have “medicalized” their aversion to certain ideas, books, words, and speakers. Rather than simply protest, as they would have in the past, students are claiming that these ideas, books, words, and speakers are actually harmful, traumatising, or even “literal violence”. And rather than debate these difficult ideas, they no-platform speakers and entirely avoid having to examine what, exactly, they say or believe is troubling about the ideas or words in question.

This isn’t an attitude that will save us from bad policies or harmful political ideologies. In fact, it is already preventing us from forming good ideas and legislation with regard to trans issues. Nor is it good philosophical practice to accept dogma unquestioningly. Besides, how “nice” is it to demand the public go along with your preferred beliefs, lest they be blacklisted, bullied, fired, threatened, or labelled as “bigoted”?

I’ve been threatened with violence online countless times, simply for asking questions about transgender ideology and gender identity legislation. Recently, Twitter locked my account because I tweeted the phrase, “men aren’t women”. This doesn’t strike me as particularly “nice” or open-minded behaviour. Yet somehow I am the one accused of “hate”.

Twitter’s response, after I appealed the suspension, was that I had engaged in “hateful conduct”, thereby breaking “Twitter Rules”. The company declined to elaborate on how saying “men aren’t women” is “hateful” or where, specifically, in Twitter’s Terms of Service, it states users are not permitted to differentiate between men and women.

You may successfully shut people up using these tactics, just as people are silenced and made fearful of rocking the boat under dictatorships. But if this is the preferred way forward, let’s not carry on the charade of describing trans activism as a progressive movement towards acceptance. It smacks, instead, of tyranny.


Meghan Murphy is a writer in Vancouver, BC. Her website is Feminist Current.

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syncromorphic
syncromorphic
3 years ago

But let’s not pretend she doesn’t have a point. Men and women’s bodies are different. Men are, quite simply, bigger. They have larger organs, bigger bones, and a higher ratio of muscle mass; they have bigger lungs, bigger hearts, and higher oxygen carrying capacity than women. They are generally stronger and faster than women.Men and women are biologically different in many ways beyond this, but for the purposes of discussing what is “fair” and what is not, in sport, these points are obvious to most. The truth is, there is no possible way to change an adult male, physiologically, into a female.

Well actually, men and women come in a range of sizes, theres very small men and very big women. if you just go on averages men are on average slightly taller. But there are plenty of women who are stronger and taller than the majority of men. Athletes are usually those women , the average height for a woman in the UK is 5’3″ , i doubt there are many female athletes that height.There are trans women athletes who sacrificed a lot of muscular strength and advantage so they can more comfortably live as women by taking oestrogen and androgen blockers.Theres are cis women who are athletes that have much higher than average anabolic hormone levels, naturally, athletes are genetic freaks in a way.If a trans women is not taking HRT or hormone blockers, she is at an advantage and should compete against other people with similar advantages .. in this case it would probably be Men.Categories in sport are not about identity they are about advantage. Otherwise i think sport would be mixed. For example I identified as Male before i took hormones, i did not really mind being classified as female in the competition.. because i did have female biological limitations.In fact i would suggest we have even MORE categories based on advantage.. why stop there!why not have high jump for short people for the short people who always wanted to compete but were at a disadvantage?I’m fairly short for a man and it is a disadvantage in loads of sport, lets have a short persons strongman competition! We have weight catagories .. we could have more!At the end of the day sport is a pretty useless but enjoyable part of society .. we basically just like watching beautiful superhumans do amazing things we could never imagine doing for our amusement… so I don’t really see why trans people can’t be included in that.

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2bnhxjv5nt
3 years ago
Reply to  syncromorphic

There are two aspects of your response I would like to highlight.

First, you suggest in (while I believe) is a mocking tone that there should be more divisions in sports based on advantage. Assuming this was in jest, what you fail to appreciate is that underlying your argument is the assumption that advantage does not matter. Ergo, in sports there should be no division whatsoever. Let us then go away with all women’s sports. The NBA and WNBA are separate entities based on advantage. Are you really suggesting that since all humans are different and, therefore, some will have an advantage in sports, that the disparity with trans athletes should therefore be ignored?

Second, you final sentence is, with respect, a flawed appeal to emotion. Trans people absolutely can engage in the beautiful practice of sports. The only question is where is it fair and just that they engage in sports.

You say “…sport is pretty useless…”. I would encourage you to examine your prejudice against athletes.