by Debbie Hayton
Monday, 20
June 2022
Analysis
10:42

FINA’s trans ruling is a return to common sense

Fairness is slowly returning to sport
by Debbie Hayton
Credit: Getty

Sport is segregated by sex, and for good reason — women would win very little in open competition with men. Yesterday’s decision by FINA should therefore be welcomed. In a 24-page document, the world governing body for swimming declared that transwomen who had experienced male puberty were ineligible to swim against women in FINA competition or set FINA World Records.

At a stroke of a pen, fairness has been restored in a sport where Lia Thomas — a biological male — was leaving female swimmers competing for second place in their own events. But there are caveats.

Firstly, the policy conflates “male-to-female transgender athletes” with “athletes with 46 XY DSD whose legal gender and/or gender identity is female”. In effect FINA is applying the same rules to transwomen and some intersex women. These are not the same. Intersex women have a diagnosable condition — a “difference of sexual development”. Transwomen can be transwomen just because they say they are: there is no qualifying criterion beyond being male.

Secondly, FINA would allow a transwoman to compete if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later”.

In a society where children are told that they have a gender identity, that worries me. Children — or their parents — know about puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Will this put yet more pressure on ten- and eleven- year old boys who are confused about their gender? It may put ideas in the minds of ambitious parents. Children need to grow up in peace, not worry that puberty might limit their opportunities.

It remains to be seen whether repressive regimes might take interest in a policy that could be seen to permit the doping of children with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

The truth is that our biological sex is innate and immutable. There should be no loopholes, not even for transwomen who transitioned at primary school. All of us who undergo ‘male-to-female’ gender reassignment must accept that some opportunities might be restricted as a result. We may be slower than we otherwise would have been, but we can still compete against our own sex — and beat some of them.

FINA’s policy is to be applauded in that respect: “male-to-female transgender athletes (transgender women) remain eligible for, and are welcome to compete in, the men’s category whether or not they are suppressing their endogenous androgens.”

Well said.

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Saffron Smith
Saffron Smith
7 days ago

Having spent part of the weekend reading ‘Irreversible Damage’ by Abigail Shrier, I share your worry about ambitious parents putting 10 and 11-year-olds on puberty blockers, so as not to ‘limit their opportunities’. I welcome the FINA ruling, but wish they’d said that anyone who is a biological male cannot compete in women’s events, end of story. All these qualifiers, such as testosterone under a certain level, or before the onset of male puberty, are asking for trouble. The welfare of children, as well as fairness for women in sport, should be taken into account.

Last edited 7 days ago by Melissa Kane
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 days ago
Reply to  Saffron Smith

Its striking how many American celebrities are referencing their trans kids. At least punks only stuck safety pins in their clothes for the sake of fashion; these kids are deforming their bodies for the sake of a fashion, and with the support of their parents!

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
7 days ago

“It may put ideas in the minds of ambitious parents. Children need to grow up in peace, not worry that puberty might limit their opportunities.”

Anyone else reminded of the castrati?

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
7 days ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Interesting comparison

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
7 days ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Yes, that did spring to mind.

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
7 days ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Some essayists have written about the similarities between adult men promoting transgenderism online to teens and pre-pubescent children, mostly males, and how males in Classical and other cultures ensured a steady supply of eunuchs.
Transgender-promoting male social media is rife with child-centered imagery, whether among autogynephiliac (straight) males or gay males. There is plenty of grooming going on.
As was probably reported here, two male “doctors” who’ve regularly given honorary talks at WPATH have been unmasked as regular participants in an online “fantasy” forum in which they discuss, literally, how to rape and castrate young children. They actually have orgasms about this material–about creating eunuchs.
Parents of castrati had some material benefit from selling their kids, although before that I guess the kids had been given up to the monasteries and had no parents in sight—only predating monks and priests. I consider the virtue signaling parents today to have Munchausen by Proxy.

Angelique Todesco
Angelique Todesco
7 days ago

Dear God that is disturbing, I did not know about the two doctors. I have inroads into the acting world for kids and I am horrified at the amount of castings asking for trans or non-binary children and I also know of children who by their own or parents choice have ‘come out’ as binary or trans, strangely enough now able to be seen for these castings. I see a very confused generation in the not too distant future.

Peter McLaughlin
Peter McLaughlin
7 days ago

I wish people would stop using terms like ‘biological male’,’male bodied’ or ‘trans woman’.
Just embrace reality and say ‘man’.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
6 days ago

Don’t wish. Just say it – as in ‘these terms should not be used’. Otherwise, in part, there is the acceptance via linguistical biology denial, and hence the acceptance of gender ideology manipulation of language.
Once their use and meaning of language is accepted then the ideology grounding that distortion of language is accepted and hence, ipso facto, any discussion is on their terms.

Last edited 6 days ago by michael stanwick
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 days ago

When the world is more complex than we would like it to be, words become more complicated too. The main point is to make yourself understood without forcing your assumptions on other people. Like it or not, there are people with male biology, but female sense of self, behaviour, and to varying degree social roles, and language needs to reflect this reality. Just saying ‘man‘ is fine most of the time, but in controversial cases it denies part of reality, just like the infamous ‘trans women are women‘ does. ‘trans woman‘ is indeed biased, but then so is ‘male transsexual‘. As for ‘biological male‘ or ‘male bodied‘ they are sometimes needed for clarity in specific contexts where it might otherwise be confusing what you mean. Much like in certain discussions you would talk about ‘birth mothers‘ and ‘adoptive mothers‘ instead of just sticking to ‘mothers‘.

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
13 hours ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

All very well but don’t expect to have a life long career in sport. Find something else to do where you don’t cheat real women out of their careers as world beating sportswomen

Carol Forshaw
Carol Forshaw
7 days ago

I find it interesting that the issue of trans women wishing to compete in female competitions seems to be limited to those sports requiring muscle such as swimming,
cycling or weightlifting. Are there any trans women wishing to compete in female gymnastics for example? If not why not?

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
6 days ago
Reply to  Carol Forshaw

Excellent point!

Nancy G 0
Nancy G 0
2 days ago
Reply to  Carol Forshaw

And are there any ‘transmen’ wishing to compete in any sports with men?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
7 days ago

The ruling stops Lia Thomas’s swimming career in it’s tracks unless he decides to compete as a transwoman in a men’s race which would be interesting in itself. I don’t know how much benefit testosterone gives but I guess he’d probably have to rapidly de-transition to have a chance.

Douglas H
Douglas H
7 days ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

It would be an interesting test of his/her sincerity in coming out as trans.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 days ago
Reply to  Douglas H

I can’t imagine someone would take puberty blockers or undergo sexual reassignment surgery in order to be a world-class swimmer. I would much rather be a fully functioning man than a sexually-damaged top swimmer.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Given the right circumstances, it may not your choice to make.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What if you self-identify as a world champion?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Remember Oscar Pistorius? There were people in 2012 who said that they would gladly chop off their legs if they could win an Olympic gold.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
7 days ago

I think perhaps some of the blame lies with the coaches who have a blind ambition for their teams to win and will do whatever it takes including giving their team members drugs. There was a interview with some women on a swimming team who had a transwoman on their team and who was outpacing them all. Understandably they were bitter. When asked what the coach thought about it they said “He thinks its great. His team is winning races.”

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Most transwomen ARE fully functioning men. The vast majority do not have ‘sexual reassignment surgery’.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
7 days ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Hedging their bets?

N Forster
N Forster
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The issue here is parents who may have their own mental challenges finding a new reason to push their children towards irreversible medical treatments. Giving them a deadline might have consequences.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Really? You can’t imagine someone who has psychological/mental health issues, as a large proportion of trans people have been verified as suffering, wouldn’t seek fame and fortune in sport to find comfort, validation and wealth?
Remember the East German and Soviet female athletes back in the seventies, who basically changed gender with testosterone, for the glory of the fatherland and a nice pension?

Last edited 4 days ago by Ian Stewart
Sallie R
Sallie R
7 days ago

Thank you. Common sense at last. What are we doing to our children?

Lynn Donoghue
Lynn Donoghue
7 days ago

I look to horse racing when explaining my position on this. Male and female horses have a smaller difference in physical strength than men and women. However, fillies can compete against colts in the Derby, but colts aren’t allowed to run in the fillies equivalent race. Fillies and mares running against colts and geldings are given a weight allowance. Geldings do not have a weight allowance against colts because they have been through equine puberty so are not considered to be disadvantaged. Not complicated at all.

Last edited 7 days ago by lynn2donoghue
N Forster
N Forster
7 days ago
Reply to  Lynn Donoghue

So, introduce a handicap system in all sports?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 days ago

Firstly, the policy conflates “male-to-female transgender athletes” with “athletes with 46 XY DSD whose legal gender and/or gender identity is female”. In effect FINA is applying the same rules to transwomen and some intersex women. These are not the same. Intersex women have a diagnosable condition — a “difference of sexual development”. Transwomen can be transwomen just because they say they are: there is no qualifying criterion beyond being male.

It seems to me Debbie Hayton is claiming the person is a woman because of the DSD. However, I think the particular 46 XY DSD is perhaps Persistent Müllerian Duct Syndrome. If so, it effects only males.

In this case perhaps the 46 XY DSD refers to this male adolescent individual whose sex (NOT gender) was recorded as female due to incomplete diagnosis. In this regard it is not inconsistent with a male-bodied trans individual. (the report persistently engages in the category error by referring to gender – a social construction category – using terms such as “female’ – a biological category)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5117982/

The report lists certain definitions but then misuses them further, as in the section on Eligibility criteria. For example the report defines male and female using chromosomes and phenotype. These are immutable biological characteristics and yet it uses male and female in such a process as in the term male-to-female, implying a lack of immutability.

I don’t think this is accidental. In the Report terms such as “biological male” and “biological female” are regularly used. Why such nomenclature? “Male” is a biological sex category, as is “female” after all. So categories such as non biological male and female can be constructed.

Disturbingly, I think the report is separating “sex” from “male” and “female”. In it, male and female are defined via certain characteristics and “sex” is defined as the differences between those characteristics. Thus tinkering with those characteristics can lead to some form of male-to-female change, and vice versa, and hence, linguistically, a change of sex. Is this the imbibing of a radical gender ideology?

Last edited 6 days ago by michael stanwick
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 days ago

Disturbingly, I think the report is separating “sex” from “male” and “female”. In it, male and female are defined via certain characteristics and “sex” is defined as the differences between those characteristics. Thus tinkering with those characteristics can lead to some form of male-to-female change, and vice versa, and hence, linguistically, a change of sex. Is this the imbibing of a radical gender ideology?

I’d cut them some slack. The words ‘male’ and ‘female’ mean someone who has the chromosomes and the hormone levels and the anatomy and the self-identification and the social role and behaviour. After all, they all go together in the standard case. In the same way, the word ‘mother’ means the person who provides the X chromosome and gives birth, and nurtures, and brings up and has parental rights and lives with the father. When reality refuses to be simple and presents you with birth mothers, surrogate mothers, adoptive mothers and stepmothers – or with transsexuals – you cannot avoid some flexibiliity in the words.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
6 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good points, but I do not agree. What was confusing to me was the insistence on using the descriptor “non biological male” and “non biological female”. Males and females are biological by definition. That definition is the reproductive strategy (anisogomatic and phenotype) that produces, develops and supports either one of two gametes The report has a science group reporting and yet significantly deviates from the biological definition. And yet it is the biology the report is deferring to. Chromosomes are sex determination mechanisms – they determine which pathway sex development goes down. They do not define sex. Sex does not reference any involvement of self-identification. ‘Mother’ is the person, not necessarily the sex, and it is sex we are referencing here.
When describing reality, biology is very specific with its nomenclature.
Radical gender ideology is grounded in linguistic manipulations because it has abused and distorted post modern ideas regarding what constitutes reality and how we come to know it – thus the biology denial and reliance on social construction via language.

Last edited 6 days ago by michael stanwick
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 days ago

Ah, I agree that ‘non biological male’ is nonsense – but you did not quote that in your post. ‘biological male’ is perfectly reasonable as a way of avoiding confusion. Sure, you could argue that ‘male’ and ‘female’ *by definition* refer to biology, and that the biology *by definition* is defined by fertility. But 1) what about the non-fertile? Which precise definition are we supposed to be using? 2) Applying a single rigid definition everywhere leads to legalistic arguments and inappropriate decisions. That holds whether you define males by fertility or by self-identification. I think we are better off simply accepting that in practice these words apply to many aspects at once. Instead of striving for precise definitions and applying them rigidly, we would get better results by concentrating on the practical aspects that are relevant in each case. Which for sports is the lungs and bone structure, not chromosomes or fertility.

Added: talking about ‘biological males’ does not imply that there is such a thing as ‘non-biological males’, any more than talking about ‘pregnant women’ implies that there is such a thing as ‘pregnant men’.

Last edited 6 days ago by Rasmus Fogh