I wish I hadn’t been eating when I took to a recent local running periodical, flipped through, and saw the article, “Transgenders in Women’s Sports” (more on that particular choice of title later – and no, I am not going to link the article. It doesn’t deserve readership, so I will spare you the pain.). Unfortunately for me, I was – and I might be turned off to my favorite lunch for the rest of my life.
Every single day we can open any of our myriad electronic devices, and they will instantly deliver baseless, ill-informed toxic masculinity to us for free. Why, then, should I be surprised that a service I pay for is now offering me the same banal, flavorless word salad? Perhaps because these words are coming from a publication I cherish – a publication from an organization whose mission statement, in large print at the top of the website states “is committed to promoting running, physical fitness, and wellness of a diverse membership.”
It’s not that I am not concerned about “women’s sports in general being effected [sic].” I am more concerned, however, about why a male accountant in his 70s is concerned. I am concerned that a man with zero skin (and zero qualifications, mind you) in this game is telling women that we have a “difficult battle on [our] hands,” and implies that we need to take up arms and fix his world so that he can be comfortable in it again. That’s not just concerning – it’s disturbing. Was he “concerned” about women’s sports before? I feel like, nah. Not a chance.
So, so concerned.
How telling is it that of the two government officials quoted in the article (Tennessee governor Bill Lee who favors banning transgender girls from youth sports, and Tennessee Senator Heide Campbell who is labeling a banning as “hate legislation”) the CIS-gendered male is the one squawking about the sky falling, and the “biological woman” (you know, the one who supposedly has a dire need to fear this kind of thing?) just wants everyone to stop hating folks who might be different from you?
By and large, we “biological women” aren’t the ones having a collective hissy fit about this issue (sure, there are some TERF-y women out there, particularly the young athletes from U Penn cited in the article, but I suspect they don’t understand a lot of things, including their own privilege). What does that say to you? I know what it says to me. I roll out of bed with this body each morning and live my life as a woman. Anyone who has ever lived life as a woman (biological or not) can tell you something for certain – it’s not something you would ever choose for yourself, were it actually a choice. It isn’t our world – we just live in it. Not surprisingly, men like the article author remind us of our place in it as often as they possibly can.
I suppose, though, it wouldn’t be America in the 2020s without someone being outraged over something – and so, I call upon you to be outraged:
- One in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, but because 63% of sexual assaults go unreported (out of fear), that statistic is likely far higher.
- Of violent crimes, transgender people are four times more likely to be targeted than those who are not transgender.
- Women are 3 times as likely to have a clinical eating disorder (and even more likely to have disordered eating in general) than men.
- Transgender people are four times more likely than cis-gender females to suffer from disordered eating.
Given these statistics (which are far from comprehensive – dig deeper and you will be horrified, I assure you) I ask you – with all of the atrocities inflicted upon women’s bodies at the hands of men, and the atrocities we inflict upon ourselves because a society of men demands our bodies to be a certain way to be acceptable, do we really need to feel threatened by fellow humans who live in bodies that not only will be rejected by society, but will also be far more at risk than our own?
By now it should be very clear that no one is going to wake up one day and arbitrarily decide to be transgender, what with all the delightful woes that come along with it. Not to win a few dinky little races. Not even to win the big ones. So why, then, would I not applaud Lia Thomas’ big wins just as I would applaud the win of any other woman out there? Should I really take away the one thing that makes her feel like she belongs in her own skin? She should be punished because she is good at performing something with a body that some folks don’t understand?
Lia Thomas – photo credit: J. Bazemore of AP.
Are you truly afraid for women in sports, sir? I don’t think so. Otherwise you would never have claimed that we have achieved “equal rights,” (yeah, he really said this) when that statement is categorically – and comically – false.
It’s also legal for doctors to allow medical students to perform pelvic exams on sedated women without their consent.
Talk to me again about these equal rights? I’d love to hear about it.
Or, maybe, juuuuuuuust maybe, are you just afraid to challenge deeply-held beliefs about people who have always existed in your world, but you would prefer to dehumanize by labeling them as “transgenders?”
This is an important time to point out that the language used for our fellow humans matters. “Transgender” is an adjective, and at no point is it to be used as an epithetic noun, as it was in this unfortunate article. Calling someone “a transgender” is a derogatory label. That someone is not “a transgender.” She is A PERSON. It is not an acceptable term, and if you are going to attempt to indoctrinate the running community at large about a topic you believe to be inherently threatening to us, it might do you well to leave the hate-filled language out of it. Taste your words before you serve them to others.
As a mid-to-back-of-the-pack woman in her 40s, I am not winning any races – but then again, neither are you, my dude (I checked – I’m petty like that). Because this issue does not matter in the slightest to either of us as far as our sport is concerned, why would we not both be approaching the issue with compassion and love rather than fear and disdain, particularly because neither of us has any clue what it feels like to be living inside a body that doesn’t belong to us?
Women – ALL women – are enough. And that’s what we should be “concerned” about conveying. We should be “concerned” that men think those of us born this way are that fragile and weak. That is the issue here. What we want is for you to turn around and hold onto whatever weird little ideas you have about masculinity and femininity if you must (and clearly you must, because we cannot pry those ideas out of your socially-stunted little fingers), but to just leave us alone. We didn’t ask for your “help.” We aren’t in distress. You are.
What I am gathering is that you do not want the transgender community to tarnish your formaldehyde-preserved notion of what your local running community should be. You do not want to promote running for them, or their physical fitness, and most certainly you do not have their wellness in mind. Diversity is not what you want. Nothing you want aligns with the mission of the people to whom you are writing – the very heart of that mission is rooted in service. Who, exactly, are your ideas serving?