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is this the begining of the end for female athletes

(21 Posts)
petunia Tue 22-Oct-19 16:16:46

Rachel McKinnon has recently won gold at the Masters Track World Championships in Manchester . She has beaten previous women's cycling records.

Rachel came out as transgender in 2004, and is a trans activist.

This is a tricky subject these days. One minor slip or poor choice of words could bring down a whole lot of accusations of being transphobic. Look at Sharon Davies and Martina Navratalova.
On the one hand for someone to believe that they are in the wrong body and need medical interventions to feel better about themselves is deserving of sympathy and understanding. Life must be difficult on every level and an ongoing concern.

On the other hand for a woman to compete against a transgender female does not feel fair. Rachel for example is six foot and has a male looking body. She has been through male puberty and has the muscle, lung capacity and skeletal advantages of that. How fair is the competition then for a woman to compete against someone who has such a huge physical advantage?

Are we likely then to see more transgender athletes who find that they can be champions as women while mediocre at their sport prior to transition. And what is meant by transition. Is it someone who has undergone major sex reassignment surgery and takes hormones permanently to maintain the outward signs of femaleness. Or is it someone who makes the decision to come out as a woman but chooses not to begin medical or surgical treatment for the time being.

When the winners stand on the podiums in the future, are we to expect gold silver and bronze awarded to transgender athletes while the biological women are pushed down the list. Will we ultimately see women retreat from sports as they have less and less hope of winning. I believe that some potential riders decided not to enter this particular race because of Rachel. Is this going to happen more often.

Ilovecheese Tue 22-Oct-19 16:58:08

Will biological women be pushed down the list? yes.
Will women retreat from competitive sports because they have no hope of winning? yes.
Is this going to happen more often? yes.

Will what has happened be perfectly obvious to observers? Yes

Sharon Davies feels very strongly about this .

trisher Tue 22-Oct-19 17:00:31

It is difficult to say what will happen. Womens participation in some sports is comparatively recent and they are still reaching their full potential. It used to be thought that women could not run marathons that has changed, but there are still assumptions about women and their abilities. Who knows what they might achieve? These photos are interesting-different bodies for different sports

M0nica Tue 22-Oct-19 17:09:46

I think in things like sport where one biological sex or the other has built-in biological advantages then which group you compete in should be on based on biological gender.

This means transgender athletes should be entered into the class that accords with their biological gender. This will benefit women who have transgendered into male and who are highly unlikely to succeed when competing against biological men. Biological men regardlss of gender should compete only agaainst biological men.

In all other things, where biological gender is irrelevant, all genders should face an equal playing field.

LumpySpacedPrincess Tue 22-Oct-19 17:10:57

Males should not be competing in female sport. Exceptional female athletes will are coming second to mediocre males. In the US girls are losing scholarships and opportunities to boys who have self identified as girls. The whole thing is a farce.

NotTooOld Tue 22-Oct-19 17:19:37

I have to agree with Lumpy but it is a dificult subject. Perhaps we'll have to have three sexes in athletics - male, female and.....what would we call the third?

Davidhs Tue 22-Oct-19 17:29:29

The issue has already started with Caster Semanya, banned for having too much testosterone, there are going to have to be rules so that trans female athletes do not have an advantage.
Semanya has apparently joined a South African female football team, not sure what the opposing teams think of that.

All athletes have very strict medicine and drugs control, trans athletes would be taking medication, probably its far too PC to say , no, you are not really female.

M0nica Tue 22-Oct-19 17:35:12

Caster Semanya is biologically female, but has some condition or gene mutation that means that she has very high testosterone levels for a woman.

In the case mentioned by the OP, the athlete concerned is biologically male, but psychologically female, which is very different.

I think it is very important that biological women, like Caster Semanya, are not used in this separate issue of men who become women as distinct from a woman who has a condition that raises her testosterone levels. There is more to being a man than just high testosterone.

TerriBull Tue 22-Oct-19 17:43:06

It's the physical frame, in the context of sport that extra muscle power is going to be a distinct advantage. Rachel towers over her natal female counterparts, her thighs, shoulders have all the hallmarks of a hefty strong man. Those physical characteristics remain the same. I don't see how any woman other than a trans woman would stand a chance against her.

Septimia Tue 22-Oct-19 17:59:39

It's quite a problem for both biological women and men and trans. After all, for a trans person, where's the competition in competing against people who are never actually likely to beat you?

Sparklefizz Tue 22-Oct-19 18:21:52

I understood Caster Semenya was "intersex" and had testes which were internal. Like Rachel McKinnon she has the looks of a hefty strong man.

Why can't there be separate categories just as there are for various issues within the Paralympics? Women are being pushed aside.

Even our packets of sanitary towels are no longer allowed to have the female symbol showing.

PamelaJ1 Tue 22-Oct-19 18:39:48

Septima, maybe not much competition but probably a medal.

Beckett Tue 22-Oct-19 18:46:16

Perhaps athletes could be tested and those with a testosterone above a certain level would not be allowed to compete against those with usual female levels

crystaltipps Tue 22-Oct-19 18:56:42

Yes Caster is intersex, has external female anatomy but has XY chromosomes so is genetically male. She was brought up as a girl and thinks of herself as a girl, but is genetically male, is infertile and does not have a uterus, so it’s a difficult one. Maybe a separate section for trans/ intersex.

M0nica Tue 22-Oct-19 19:25:38

If she is genetically male then she should compete against other genetic males.

petunia Wed 23-Oct-19 08:51:21

Beckett, I believe that testosterone testing happens now but it is only part of the picture. The average boy passing through puberty grows taller and broader than the average girl. This will include a larger skeleton, increased lung capacity, larger heart muscle and muscular strength. So even if some of those advantages are minimised by reducing testosterone, the individual still retains the male physique and its benefits compared to the average woman.

Also, many men who change gender choose not to go down the medical route at all. Their belief that they are indeed women is considered enough . This does not feel like a level playing field for women athletes. Or for women in other walks of life either.

TerriBull Wed 23-Oct-19 09:03:23

A picture I came across of Rachel McKinnon, was one where she was seated with the couple of natal women competitors. Rachel displayed the typical male pose known as "manspreading" and although that word can be used in a pejorative way, it is of course entirely comfortable for men to sit with their legs wide apart due to how they are formed as opposed to natal women who tend to keep their legs together or cross them.

oldgimmer1 Wed 23-Oct-19 10:49:47

I agree with MOnica.

You compete according to your genetics.

I kind of feel sorry for Caster because she's always identified as female and was born with her condition. So.. different from @petunia's example of a person who identifies as male, ignoring his/her genetics.

To my mind at least, someone born male will always be male. I'm a simple soul though.

petunia Wed 23-Oct-19 13:58:18

I find the whole issue of changing gender fascinating actually. While I have no issue with how individuals behave, dress or feel, unless harm is done to others, I do feel that there is a gender agenda being imposed without general consent or consultation.

Personally, I would welcome open discussion around the implications of this agenda and what it means for both men and women. Women's sport started this thread but there are other issues creating problems.

It seems that daily there are news items where gender is a factor. There was a piece over the weekend where a particular police force was allowing people arrested to state which gender they were.

And last week there was news that Always sanitary products would, form next year, no longer have the female symbol on the wrapper as this was potentially offensive

GabriellaG54 Wed 23-Oct-19 14:50:33

I totally agree with you Ilovecheese

Yehbutnobut Wed 23-Oct-19 15:26:04

Perhaps we should have Transgender Games.