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Boys playing in girls' sports - is it fair?

(38 Posts)
FarNorth Fri 16-Aug-19 08:22:29

We were very upset that their team clearly had two boys. There was almost a fight on the sidelines between the parents of our two teams. The goalie made a save and one of our dads said, “Great save by a boy!”. The parents of the other team yelled at him, “You’re insensitive. That’s a girl and her name is Betty”.

FarNorth Fri 16-Aug-19 08:23:10

Davidhs Fri 16-Aug-19 09:49:09

I was watching a local village football match and one team had 2 women players, nobody was making any issue about it. As for mixed games, as long as neither side is gaining any advantage I dont see a problem for younger children.
With older kids, there are girls who can compete with the boys, although the school girls hockey team or football team would want them so it doesn’t really work.
I did play in a mixed hockey match years ago, and it was payback time.

RosieLeah Fri 16-Aug-19 10:02:11

It's not a problem when they are younger but, as they get older, boys have the advantage so it's unfair to pit them against each other. The exception would be rounders, where physical strength is not required.

We're getting to the stage now where gender equality is being taken to extremes. The genders may be equal, but they are not the same. The fact remains that men and women are different physically, and that must be taken into account.

MiniMoon Fri 16-Aug-19 10:06:54

Why not field a mixed team? They were obviously not infringing the rules, otherwise they would not have been allowed to compete.
This was in the USA, are the rules for mixed teams different there?

Minniemoo Fri 16-Aug-19 10:13:55

The sport issue is interesting. Ended up discussing this whilst watching Wimbledon.

Federer, amazing as he is, is getting older. He can't continue at the top of the game for much longer. Even though I can't see him stopping any time soon.

But he could go on to identify as female and carry on at the top of the game for a good 20 years.

So how are we supposed to manage this? There was a female reporter who ended up in hot water due to her opinion about it being unfair to women.

Yet another problem.

We really should be able to say that men, in general, are physically stronger than women, (not all!) and it shouldn't be 'wrong' to say this.

Sparklefizz Fri 16-Aug-19 10:23:10

I watched Martina Navratilova's documentary on the science behind transgender and women's sports. It is very informative. Here is a link:

janipat Fri 16-Aug-19 10:28:09

I think the point being made here is that they are not supposed to be mixed teams but girl teams. Of course mixed teams playing each other would be fair. It's allowing boys who identify as girls but are genetically male to compete in all girl teams that is being objected to. A boy who has gone through, or is going through, puberty will have the advantages that higher testosterone levels bring. I don't pretend to have the answers but conceivably someone could field a team composed entirely of boys who identify as girls. Not many all genetically girls teams could compete against that.

FarNorth Fri 16-Aug-19 11:10:45

MiniMoon it was not a mixed team.
2 team members, claimed to be girls, were clearly male-bodied youths.

It is happening in the UK also, in the name of trans inclusion.

quizqueen Fri 16-Aug-19 11:27:10

In sports where strength can give an advantage, then men and women should complete separately, whatever they choose to call themselves. I don't see many trans women begging to complete against men, funnily enough. Other sports such as horse jumping, where there is no real advantage, have always been mixed.

paddyann Fri 16-Aug-19 11:33:57

You're a bit obsessed by transgender people FarNorth maybe you should seek help.

Things change all the time ,no sense in getting your knickers in a twist about it .Mixed teams are quite common in my area where schools have only 14 or 16 pupils in a class .My GD 's class has only two girls so no mixed teams games .

PamelaJ1 Fri 16-Aug-19 11:46:11

Paddyann, as janipat has already pointed out this wasn’t a mixed game. It was girls against boys.
David’s- if a team wants to field girls against boys and be at a disadvantage then I think the opposition would be very happy. It’s when it’s the other way round that it becomes a problem.

Davidhs Fri 16-Aug-19 12:02:10

When it comes to testosterone levels we already have restrictions, the South African runner has been limited to her events so if sex change athletes are an issue the limits are already there.

GrannyLiv Fri 16-Aug-19 12:47:23

The article stated that the incident happened two years ago, when the author (Emily) was 12 years of age. In rugby (and probably most sports), girls and boys are allowed to play within the same team, and against each other, until they turn 13. So, on face value, Emily's team of 12 year old's played against a team that had two 12 year old boys in it.

As a story to highlight the issues surrounding the inclusion of trans athletes in sport, it's not a very good one.

janipat Fri 16-Aug-19 13:27:39

Davidhs I doubt very much whether school teams are subjected to testing for testosterone levels.

GrannyLiv I don't think anyone has said there's a problem with openly mixed teams playing each other. I can see there could be problems when it is a case of single sex teams.

In the link Sparklefizz posted about Martina Navratilova's documentary it clearly says Federer is coming to the end of his successful men's tennis career. If he decided to identify as female he could stay at the top for a good many more years. No I don't think he will either, but if he did, even taking testosterone blockers to bring his levels down wouldn't negate the bodily advantages he'd accrued up until that point. The world has moved on and there is going to be a need for a great deal of thought as to how to include transgender athletes in the various sports where genetic sex would give an advantage.

GrannyLiv Fri 16-Aug-19 16:52:35

Janipat I was saying that Emily's story isn't a great illustration for the issue under debate. The difference in strength between a 12 year old boy and girl are not that great.

I don't agree that having been born biologically male automatically gives a trans athlete an advantage. As part of their transition they have taken testosterone blockers and lots of oestrogen, which results in a reduction in muscle mass and therefore speed and strength.

The advantage would be with pre-transition males, who identify as women and who want to play against other women.

Can anyone think of an example where a female to male trans person might have the advantage?

FarNorth Fri 16-Aug-19 17:49:12

GrannyLiv - these were not supposed to be mixed teams. They were supposed to be girls' teams, yet one team included two boys who were clearly much stronger than the girls.
How can that not be demoralising to the team which had very little chance of winning because it was all-girls?

paddyann, thank you for your kind concern.
I believe that people who have no concerns about male-bodied people being able to self-identify as female, are failing to see obvious problems ahead.

Sparklefizz Fri 16-Aug-19 18:59:25

Davidhs When it comes to testosterone levels we already have restrictions, the South African runner has been limited to her events so if sex change athletes are an issue the limits are already there.

If you watch the Navratilova documentary to which I posted a link earlier, you will realise that tests and science show that Caster Semenya, the SA runner, still has way more testosterone than a female runner, even though she has been told to reduce the level. Navratilova allowed her own testosterone level to be measured against male athletes and against trans athletes, and it is not a level playing field.

I don't see why there can't be a separate athletic category for trans people like there is for people with physical disabilities. No one expects a swimmer with only one arm to compete against able-bodied swimmers, and no one should expect women to compete against trans athletes.

No doubt I have said something to offend somebody, but that is really not my intention and apologies in advance if I have done this/used the wrong terms/upset anyone.

Sparklefizz Fri 16-Aug-19 19:00:44

FarNorth I appreciate all the information and research that you provide on here.

SueDonim Fri 16-Aug-19 21:26:08

A similar event occurred at a friend's children's school in the Milton Keynes area. Their girls' football team of 15yo's had a scheduled match at home . The opposition turned up with two 'trans-girls' neither of whom made any effort to disguise their masculinity. However, the home team were not allowed to question the inclusion of these 'girls' - a deeply unfair situation which upset the home team greatly.

janipat Fri 16-Aug-19 23:34:38

GrannyLiv my 15 year old grandson, thin as a rake, but 6ft 4in tall already could decide to self identify as a girl. If he decided to play netball for example, that height, which is almost unheard of in a girl, would be a considerable advantage, that wouldn't be reduced by blocking his testosterone levels. The whole spectre of sports is a minefield that I'm glad I don't have to adjudicate. Perhaps Sparklefizz has the answer, separate categories like the Paralympics. Although even that discriminates against people with learning difficulties as opposed to physical ones.

GrannyLiv Sat 17-Aug-19 10:44:18

Suedonim Surely an example of the other team exploiting the issue for their gain, rather than the inclusion of trans students. I agree, an unfair advantage and a move that undermines and belittles the work done on inclusion.

And for that reason people should be allowed to challenge the inclusion of a biological male in a female team, without fear of being pilloried.

GrannyLiv Sat 17-Aug-19 10:49:00

Janipat That's a good point, about height.

FarNorth Sat 17-Aug-19 11:13:25

GrannyLiv you can't have it both ways.
Either it's okay for male-bodied people to be included as females, or it isn't.
Can you imagine the problems if it's left to an opposing team to challenge someone's inclusion?

"Is the person really trans or not?"
"Even if they are trans, do they have an unfairly male physique so should be excluded from this match?"

GrannyLiv Sat 17-Aug-19 14:56:52

FarNorth I can have it any way I like - the issue is not as black and white as you claim.

If a team coach were attempting to pass off male players as trans women players, simply to gain an advantage and win a game, then this should be challenged.

However I hear people saying that they feel they cannot challenge anything even remotely connected with trans issues because they fear that they will be accused of discrimination. I do not believe that this should be the case - it is reasonable to think that an issue can be explored and questions asked, if done so in a respectful way. Sports clubs have formal processes available to any player or coach who wishes to raise an issue or objection and I see no reason why that process should not be available to a team who wishes to claim an unfair advantage due to the inclusion of biologically male players.

I also believe that in most sports (although maybe not netball Janipat!) there is not much of an advantage to be had and so the inclusion of trans athletes is not much of an issue for me.

My Son grew up playing rugby, where you will regularly see the 6 stone player on the wing taking on the forward line player who is literally twice their size, and getting the better of them.

You are clearly passionate about the issue and good on you for taking a stand. Are you active in sport yourself?