Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Martina, Caster, trans women athletes, and a Swiss cyclist

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Martina, Caster, trans women athletes, and a Swiss cyclist

    Content note for talking about trans and intersex people as if they were specimens and curiosities; probably some transphobia too.

    By now you've probably read about Martina Navratilova's ill-advised plunge into discussing the exclusion of trans athletes from women's sports. Personally i haven't seen her article in the Sunday Times because it's behind a paywall, but from summaries in other publications i gather she described trans athletes' participation as a form of 'cheating' and invoked the tired old trope of a cis man cynically transitioning in order to compete against the lesser breed of human that is women. Subsequently Martina issued a non-apology on her blog, in which she brandished her undeniable credentials as an activist for an entirely different cause and claimed that she merely wanted “"a debate, a conversation that includes everyone” based on “science, objectivity and the best interests of women's sport as a whole”." This reminds me of the “debate” about immigration which is yearned for by racists so long as it takes place on the terms of and centres the interests of white non-migrants such as themselves.

    In the meantime lawyers for the IAAF have decreed that Caster Semenya is a “"biological male"” based on their own interpretation of science and objectivity. Semenya is appealing against a recently approved rule that lowers the acceptable threshold of testosterone in a woman athlete's body – a rule that was almost certainly designed to prevent Semenya from competing without taking a suppressant. The IAAF's lawyer, like Navratilova, and like a bizarre thinkpiece on the subject in today's Guardian from dubiously qualified fashion hack Hadley Freeman, invoked the spectre of women's sport being overrun by trans and/or intersex competitors, with the result that “"women with normal female testosterone levels will not have any chance to win.”"

    Perhaps Freeman's deadline fell before the news that a women's cycle race in Belgium had to be delayed when the leader, Nicole Henselmann, caught up with the men's peloton which had started out ten minutes earlier. Henselmann peaked a bit early, finishing 74thin the women's race, but her feat made the world headlines because there's an insatiable appetite for stories about the gender binary and how it plays out in sports.

    Will women with DSDs end up dominatingthe podiums and prize money in athletics, as the IAAF's lawyer suggests? Will trans participants wipe out cis women on the tennis court, as Navratilova fears? Is it possible for a woman to pedal faster than a man? Of course, there's only one objective way to find out, but some people have already decided they know what the results will be before the competition has taken place.

    Navratilova's blogpost briefly emerged from its terribleness to arguethat there's probably no single solution to "“the transgender problem (if I may call it that).”" (i think it's probably better that you don't, Martina.) She noted that in many sports competitors are segregated according to categories other than gender, and gave a nod to disabled sports, which accommodate “"different degrees and types of physical impairment”". (She isn't the greatest at choosing her words.) Nevertheless, she concluded that in the all-important able-bodied arena, to introduce categories other than the existing ones would only"cause confusion”", and for women's tennis it would be "“a bad mistake"”. Long live gender, age and dis/ability as the markers of 'biological difference'.

    tl;dr: Sport is bullshit. Gender is bullshit. Big money makes both insufferable.
    Last edited by laverte; 06-03-2019, 15:10.

    #2
    It's not really a sport issue, is it? I mean, there's a wave of vile attacks on trans women (and men, but more often women, I think) across society, across the media, at the moment.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by TonTon View Post
      It's not really a sport issue, is it? I mean, there's a wave of vile attacks on trans women (and men, but more often women, I think) across society, across the media, at the moment.
      I'm guessing the interventions of Navratilova, Radcliffe et al are also not helping the situation as they are in effect calling trans women men.

      Comment


        #4
        I want to contribute to this thread to make sure it doesn't vanish, but I'm not sure I have anything of value to add.

        I will say that although lots of people have made themselves look like utter arseholes about this, the thing I find most offensive is that some sports bureaucrats have decided it's up to them to tell Caster Semenya what gender she is and to leak results of tests to the public and to spread what appear to be all kinds of rumours.

        The other thing that particularly bothers me is that people are making a big deal of trans athletes sneaking in to women's sports to compete. As far as I can tell, there's almost no sign of it happening at all at the elite level. So it begs the question of why people are all up in arms about it. Maybe Martina was just asked a quick hypothetical question and responded to it offhand and it's got blown out of proportion? But people have picked up that baton and run all over the place with it, and I can only think they're doing so out of malice. All the other attacks on trans people have basically failed so this is the latest thing they can use to try and argue that trans people shouldn't exist: it's because they might cheat at tennis.

        Comment


          #5
          Hadley Freeman is pretty much the guardian's cissexism correspondent these days.

          For tedious counter-organising reasons i've ended up having to trawl the sewer that is terf twitter recently, and two things jump out.

          - despite being very up on trans athletes participating in the lower reaches of US college level sports, transphobes rarely mention transmasculine triathlete Chris Mosier who has raced in the ITU World Championships.
          - they make the same arguments about women's sports that misogynists make to justify it receiving little funding or attention.

          Caster Semanya's treatment is incredibly racist as well as cissexist. If she were white her femininity would not be denied in the way it is.
          Last edited by Bizarre Löw Triangle; 07-03-2019, 19:44.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Bizarre Löw Triangle View Post
            Caster Semanya's treatment is incredibly racist as well as cissexist. If she were white her femininity would not be denied in the way it is.
            I'm not sure that's true. I can recall similar questions being asked about Jarmila Kratochvilova back in the 1980s.

            Comment


              #7
              Good points all.

              Just to add briefly: Laura Muir was interviewed on the BBC this morning and was asked about both Radcliffe's comments and Semenya's status. She said basically that 'Paula can speak for herself' and 'Caster is a friend whom I've enjoyed competing against'.

              As a longtime fan of Martina I sort of hope she jumped in without thinking. That is likely to be naive on my part...

              @NS- weren't the accusations against JK more on the lines of 'the Czechoslovaks are pumping her full of steroids' rather than 'She's a bloke really'?
              Last edited by Duncan Gardner; 07-03-2019, 13:46.

              Comment


                #8
                I guess as long as women only sports exist there has to be *some* was of quantifying or measuring gender, in these gender-fluid times. Testosterone level might be a bit crude, is there a better solution? Or does there have to be a measure.... should self-identification be enough?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Duncan Gardner View Post
                  @NS- weren't the accusations against JK more on the lines of 'the Czechoslovaks are pumping her full of steroids' rather than 'She's a bloke really'?
                  Oh, I think it was generally assumed that virtually every East European athlete in the 1970s and 1980s was being doped, with Kratochvilova being no exception. But uniquely I think that there were questions about her gender, as she did rather stand out during races. I remember at least one TV commentator making reference to the issue, saying something dreadfully clunky like "a wonderful win there for the young lady, and she is a young lady because the tests have proved that to be the case".

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by seand View Post
                    I guess as long as women only sports exist there has to be *some* was of quantifying or measuring gender, in these gender-fluid times. Testosterone level might be a bit crude, is there a better solution? Or does there have to be a measure.... should self-identification be enough?
                    Nature published an article in 2015 about the complexities of measuring sex. Their conclusion was:

                    So if the law requires that a person is male or female, should that sex be assigned by anatomy, hormones, cells or chromosomes, and what should be done if they clash? “My feeling is that since there is not one biological parameter that takes over every other parameter, at the end of the day, gender identity seems to be the most reasonable parameter,” says Vilain. In other words, if you want to know whether someone is male or female, it may be best just to ask.
                    https://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The racism is complex here because "African/Latino and black" foreign sportspersons seem to be subjected to the usual levels of racism that exist in wider American society whereas a famous black athlete like Michael Johnson might get token white status (or st least an intermediary status not shared by other US blacks)

                      Flo Jo was doped up to the eyeballs but took the precaution of wearing long nails and make-up so nobody would accuse her of being male. Even so, I don't think a US athlete would ever get treated the way Semenya has.

                      Navratilova is an odd one because I can recall Evert suggesting that she play on the men's circuit and that the muscles (normal by 2019 tennis standards) were excessive for the early 80s. Billie Jean King, normally Martina's close friend (former doubles partner) was an advocate of trans rights in tennis, particularly in the Renee Richards case:

                      https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33062241

                      I'd be interested to know the stats on how many black tennis and track and field competitors make it as coaches or if there's a glass ceiling there, as appears to have been the case in (American) football.
                      Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 07-03-2019, 16:09.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        if you want to know whether someone is male or female, it may be best just to ask.
                        That just brings up the issue of why it's important at all. Nobody in officialdom ever wants to know which hand i write with.

                        i think the key words in that citation are "if the law requires" – which could just as well read "if the governing sports association requires". Why should it?

                        The answer is something to do with fairness, with a level playing field. Sports fans are quite selective about this. They would (i hope) decry a boxing bout between a heavyweight and a flyweight as pointless and cruel. But they're happy to watch big wealthy clubs or nations pummel smaller poorer ones in unregulated competitions. Freaks of nature like Usain Bolt are idolised, while teams and athletes that win unflashily through graft and toil are often unpopular. The topless fellow at Fratton Park with "Pompey till I die" tattooed over his heart doesn't seem willing to lay down his life for Pompey women's team or the Pompey youth squad, even though those teams play in competitions that are much less unequal than the men's football league.

                        Only certain types of difference count as unfair. 'Biological sex' is one of them. It's a useful, immutable marker of inferiority which masks the reality that women were prevented from playing competitive sport for decades, that they were excluded from the development of club and national sports and the mythologies that went with them. Governing associations should be paying reparations for this, or at least making up for it by investing no less than half of their sport's revenue in training and paying women. But hey ho.

                        Martina is right to note that there aren't many opportunities for cis women to earn a living from playing sport. i'd add that such opportunities as there are -– mostly in tennis and track, to some extent in winter sports and golf –- are all individual sports, rather than team sports, which would be harder for any individual woman, cis or trans or DSD/intersex, to "dominate". The need for team sports to offer equal pay and equal prestige is urgent.

                        The sport i was most skilled at was basketball. i'm five feet one. An opponent could take me out by marking me with someone tall. Everyone who plays basketball is tall. i used to dream of a rule that limited the total height of a team. Would you rather have five players of average height or two giants plus three shortarses? The freakishly good athletes would still stand out. They just wouldn't need to be tall. Extend the regulations to cover weight and, say, muscle mass, and they wouldn't all need to be men either.
                        Last edited by laverte; 07-03-2019, 17:33.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          A relatively small number of insanely talented women can make a living from professional basketball.

                          The average salary in the WNBA is now over USD 70,000 and the top players are on USD 110,000. Several of them supplement that amount by also playing in another league (often Russia) with a different calendar. And there will be endorsements on top of that.

                          It is still a small fraction of what their male NBA counterparts take home, of course.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            https://mobile.twitter.com/BrynnTann...68984556249090

                            this is a really good thread debunking the bullshit Radcliffe, Navratilova Davies (and of course that bigot Linehan) have been recycling re trans athletes.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Hadley Freeman must be an elaborate Centrist joke.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I was meaning to post this in the cycling thread, but it might be more useful here. Trans woman cyclist Nathalie van Gogh talks to Marijn de Vries - https://cyclistsalliance.org/article...410INUMiGEbplc

                                There's a lot of good stuff in there, including the IOC rules on trans women and discussion of testosterone levels in men, cis women and trans women. I rather parochially took away the fact that legendary cycling commentator Jose Been cared enough to translate the article, and that Ellen van Dijk, Chantal Blaak and Annemiek van Vleuten all have trans women's backs ("Being transgender is not a choice. It’s not for fun. I only thought; let the girl do what she loves doing. When she started winning races, I was happy for her" - AvV)

                                Navratilova, Davies and Radcliffe are talking about things they don't really know about. They are very far from unique in this, and I'm considerably more inclined to blame the media's appetite for whipping up a 'trans controversy' than I am those athletes. Having said that, I don't know the specifics of what they said, because I see enough nonsense without actively seeking it out.

                                Good to see laverte back and posting with customary thoughtfulness.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Thank you delicatemoth, that is much appreciated. i agree with you that in the media there's a real appetite for a spat; i understand that Rod Liddle has been sharing his thoughts, and the cynic in me thinks his advocacy of cis women's rights might be related to the opportunity they afford him to injure trans women. In her blog Navratilova noted that she'd made some unexpected and unwanted allies with her comments about "cheating"; perhaps it will encourage her and other members of the media to think twice before talking, as you succinctly put it, about things they don't really know about. (Having said that, i can't honestly claim that i'm well placed either. It's just that sport seems to be the latest arena on which the apparently unavoidable fight is to be fought, and i feel strongly enough that it shouldn't be to have wanted to start this thread.)

                                  i hadn't realised the WNBA was paying its players that much. [redacted because off-topic: see ursus' WNBA thread] the WNBA seems the most likely big sports organisation to back and promote a trans player. i gather it doesn't have an official policy on the matter yet, but i'd anticipate the players will be supportive when the need arises. They seem pretty woke.
                                  Last edited by laverte; 08-03-2019, 16:52.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Bizarre Löw Triangle View Post

                                    Nature published an article in 2015 about the complexities of measuring sex. Their conclusion was:
                                    So if the law requires that a person is male or female, should that sex be assigned by anatomy, hormones, cells or chromosomes, and what should be done if they clash? “My feeling is that since there is not one biological parameter that takes over every other parameter, at the end of the day, gender identity seems to be the most reasonable parameter,” says Vilain. In other words, if you want to know whether someone is male or female, it may be best just to ask.

                                    https://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943
                                    So would this be an acceptable criterion for fans of female sport? If some idiot male misses out on qualification for, say, the men's Olympic 1500m by a margin of five seconds and decides, 'fuck it, I'll sign a form saying I identify as female' would it be acceptable collateral damage that they could comfortably break the women's world record on the way to Olympic gold?

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      laverte, I'm going to respond in a new thread

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Has anyone ever tried to do that? No. Is there any reason to create a rule that actually harms trans athletes in order to prevent a problem that doesn't happen?

                                        (Response to Sean, obvs, not Ursus)
                                        Last edited by San Bernardhinault; 08-03-2019, 16:40.

                                        Comment


                                          #21
                                          Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post
                                          Has anyone ever tried to do that? No. Is there any reason to create a rule that actually harms trans athletes in order to prevent a problem that doesn't happen?

                                          (Response to Sean, obvs, not Ursus)
                                          This is the whole argument and position of those who don't want trans women to compete. They keep saying male athlete x will wake up one day and identify as a woman and win everything.

                                          Apart from being a ridiculous position to take it's extremely offensive. Is that what they believe Caster Semenya has done?

                                          Comment


                                            #22
                                            In the unlikely event it does ever happen it will be some wanker trying to make an issue out of something that doesn't concern him. i imagine that the other competitors would refuse to take part in the race, and henceforth he'd find himself eating alone at the canteen, probably food that the catering staff had spat in. But he might land a media gig at Spiked, where he could wield the sword of truth with some other lonely disruptors.

                                            Comment


                                              #23
                                              Trans model Munroe Bergdorf says she feels threatened by other women

                                              https://www.theguardian.com/society/...y_to_clipboard

                                              Martina, Paula et al please take note. Your comments are, imho, unhelpful and ignorant at best and full of prejudice at worst and are creating a culture of intolerance and hatred that is no different to the prejudice faced by other minority groups. You should know better.

                                              Comment


                                                #24
                                                Originally posted by laverte View Post
                                                In the unlikely event it does ever happen it will be some wanker trying to make an issue out of something that doesn't concern him. i imagine that the other competitors would refuse to take part in the race, and henceforth he'd find himself eating alone at the canteen, probably food that the catering staff had spat in. But he might land a media gig at Spiked, where he could wield the sword of truth with some other lonely disruptors.
                                                :-) probably.... it'd still be shit though wouldn't it? some not-quite-good-enough male athlete deciding to identify as female in order to mop up some Golden League cash, or make some bollocks anti-trans political point. The problem with human nature is some cnut will exploit any loophole.

                                                Or should we just abandon men's and women's sport and just have sport? (straps on helmet and ducks behind sandbags)

                                                Comment


                                                  #25
                                                  But "in theory" a cis-male athlete could already have done this at any point in the last couple of decades, and they haven't. So why penalise real people in order to create a solution to a currently non-existent problem?

                                                  Comment

                                                  Working...
                                                  X