Claims for Equality are Directly Leading to Unfairness
Striving for equality in all walks of life seems like a great mission. We are all humans, therefore we should all be treated the same way. In a vacuum this makes sense, in reality, it does not. The base assumption for those dreaming of full equality is that we are all the same, that we are all equal. However, as anybody that has ever played any sport knows, we are not all equal: some are bigger, some are stronger, and some are faster. There will always be inequality in life, and there will always be inequality in sports. However, we do not have to go out of our way to make things even more unfair as we search for equality, which is exactly what is happening in women’s sports recently.
For the second straight sprinting season, Connecticut recognized Terry Miller as the fastest woman in Connecticut. Terry Miller won the 55-meter dash in Connecticut’s Indoor Track State Championships in February with a time of 6.95, and last June Miller won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.72. If all things were fair this would be a non-story. However, Terry Miller is a trans woman, a biological male. We want to live in a world where Terry Miller can do whatever possible to live a happy and healthy life. Letting Terry Miller compete, and dominate, Connecticut woman’s track is not the way to do that. In our desire for equality, we are delivering a massive middle finger to the notion of fairness and are harming biological women while doing so.
Martina Navratilova is one of the top three greatest tennis players of all-time. The list is fairly simple and comes in some order of the following three: Navratilova, Serena Williams, and Chris Evert. Navratilova is probably the most influential women’s tennis player of all-time alongside Billie Jean King. Not only was Navratilova a monster on the court, but she was also a pioneer off of the court. Navratilova was one of the first openly gay athletes in modern sports, and she was one of the best players of all-time. That combination of skill and courage is why so many held her and hold her in such high esteem. She even had Renée Richards, the first professional trans tennis player, as her coach.
Yet, the trans community is now ostracizing Navratilova for equating trans athletes with engaging in a form of cheating. Her point was simple; trans women (biological men), have an inherent physiological advantage over biological women, and allowing trans women to compete against non-trans women is the equivalent of cheating. This should not be an earth-shattering position, but trans rights activists are so appalled by Navratilova’s claim that some are kicking her off of advisory boards. They are kicking off one of the best and most influential lesbian tennis players of all-time off of their advisory boards.
Men have biological advantages over women when it comes to sports. Men have a higher bone density and their skeletal muscles are faster and have a higher maximum output. There are in fact differences between men and women physically and biologically. This is a beautiful thing. Without the mammalian dichotomy, we would not exist as a species. When it comes to sports, sometimes the dichotomy leads to a net positive for women (women are the tougher of the two main genders–no surprise there), but sometimes it literally puts them in harm’s way (women are more prone to ACL tears than men). To suggest that there is no biological difference between men and women is a-scientific and harms women looking to compete on an equal playing field.
The real issue though is how denying basic biological differences puts women at an unfair advantage against their trans counterparts. The fastest woman in the world would not be in the top several thousand runners on the men’s side if they competed against one another. Yes, there are rules in place that give off the impression of fairness, but even after factoring in for testosterone and hormone levels, trans women retain an advantage.
“Joanna Harper, 61, a transgender athlete and IOC advisory committee member, who backed the 2015 relaxation but has now recommended the testosterone reduction, said: “It appears they are going to act on the recommendation.”
Harper, who ran marathons in two hours and 23 minutes as a young man, conceded that even after hormone treatment, transgender women could have an advantage. “Transgender women after hormone therapy are taller, bigger and stronger on average than cisgender [those whose gender identity matches their birth gender] women. (“Transgender Athletes Face Tougher Olympic Rules,” The Australian, April 22, 2018).”
This is the crux of the issue. The fairness of it all, and the fairness of sports. While the people who strive for the rights of trans athletes have their hearts in the right place, they are doing so while disregarding rationale and fairness. Trans women have an inherent biological advantage over their opponents, and as Navratilova said, it is like cheating; for sprinters, this is like starting with a 5-meter head start.
In the strive for equality in sports, we are completely ignoring fairness, which is the one thing all sports have in common. An understanding that the athletes are all competing on a fair playing field. People are correct when they say life is not fair. Whatever your starting point in life you have an advantage or disadvantage compared to somebody else. But that is why sports are so important and so many people are drawn to them. When you listen, watch, or compete in sports, you know that you are engaging in the one activity in life that assures fairness and equality. You do not get that in life, but sports provides fairness in a world that is rife with inequality and unfairness.
Sports are the last bastion of fairness. That is why everyone gets so up in arms whenever and wherever there is a cheating scandal in sports. Sports is supposed to be fair. Yes, somebody might be bigger, somebody might be faster, or even smarter than you are, but at least we are all playing under the same rules and conditions. However, with the emergence of trans athletes in sports, and guidelines that allow trans athletes to take the place and spots on the podium of biological women, all of a sudden, fairness is no longer fair. When that starts happening, sports are no longer sports.