The usual suspects emerged recently to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski for his willingness to challenge Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in women’s high school sports.
The CT Mirror reported that Stefanowski merely “questioned the process and analysis behind the policy without proposing a reversal — a move the Trump administration unnecessarily demanded of Governor Ned Lamont in 2020.”
“Connecticut law prohibits discrimination,” Stefanowski said. “It is incumbent on high school athletic conferences to seek out the voices of young female athletes, coaches and parents to come up with policies that ensure a level playing field and protect girls’ sport.
“To date, I don’t think enough attention has been given to the impact this has on women’s sport at all levels. It goes beyond fairness. It’s about safety. It has to be assessed and we need policies that work for everyone.”
A rather shrewd prospect, given the controversies (and lawsuits) that have arisen over whether two transgender racers, recent graduates Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, who won 15 championship races combined, would have had to be allowed to compete against their cisgender (a person whose gender identity matches the biological sex assigned to that person at birth) peers.
Ah, but politics then staged a coup on Stefanowski’s wisdom, proving once again that life is considerably messier by taking a nuanced stance, especially now that agendas are eclipsing critical thinking.
Indeed, the whole transgender sports discussion illustrates the dangers of deep thinking in a time when echo chambers have never been so convenient and comfortable. The nuance in this case: laws that protect the rights of transgender citizens. Although necessary and fair, it must be adjusted to take into account the sports and the inherent physical components necessary for success.
Gender discrimination in education, health care, housing and financial credit has no place in this country. But we must realize and accept that sports are different because of the unique physical demands of other life commitments and competitions. In other words, applying for school or for health care, housing, or financial credit does not require any physical component to be successful. Sports require speed, strength and agility and do not fit under the same umbrella.
And yet the sport is regularly pushed into the same arguments over unfair treatment. Injustices pile up for rhetorical utility, even if they are not applicable.
Case in point: Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham recently wrote an otherwise thoughtful and insightful article about Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama and her byzantine legislation that makes giving gender-affirming medical care to anyone under the age of 19. a crime. Ivey became the first governor to approve the criminalization of medical professionals who provide young people with necessary care related to gender identity.
But a few paragraphs later, Graham wrote, “In Texas, where gender-affirming care is falsely labeled as child abuse, Governor Greg Abbott encouraged citizens to report parents suspected of child abuse to state authorities. obtain such treatment for their children. Several states, including Texas, have laws that prohibit trans children from participating in school sports teams that match their gender identity.”
Sorry. But that’s where I get off the train. Criminalizing parents for seeking medical attention from their children and excluding transgender athletes from sports teams do not fall under the same umbrella.
Oh, surely that’s a convenient position, given that the two seem to discriminate. But what does seeking medical treatment have to do with running a race or swimming a lap with a biologically-based physical advantage? Seeking medical treatment requires a phone call or email, which anyone is capable of. Running a competitive race requires athletic abilities that vary from human to human.
“Whatever you think about gender identity in general, the simple fact is that biology is what matters in athletics, not a person’s identity,” wrote Bianca Stanescu, who filed the lawsuit in February. 2020 against the CIAC for its policy allowing transgender athletes to compete. according to their gender identity. “Gender identity can be changed. Sex is embedded in our DNA and cannot be changed. It is reflected in realities such as lung capacity and bone density. Sex is not gender.”
Science shows it well. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a nonprofit research and educational institution, studied transgender men and women who had undergone hormone therapy for a year. The conclusion: “Despite robust increases in muscle mass and strength in TMs (transgender men), TWs (transgender women) were still stronger and had more muscle mass after 12 months of treatment. new insights that may be relevant when assessing the eligibility of trans women to compete in the women’s category of athletic competitions.”
More proof: Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, tied with Usain Bolt for the most gold medals at the World Championships, has the best time of her life of 49.26 seconds in the 400 meters. In 2018 alone, 275 high school students ran faster 783 times, according to one of the CIAC lawsuits.
Meanwhile, here we witness the 50th anniversary of Title IX and see how transgender athletes threaten advancements in women’s athletics.
I refer in such cases to Duke University law professor Doriane Coleman, who not only writes about sex and the law, but has a sports background since winning the NCAA championship by running the 800 and the 4×400 at Cornell. Professor Coleman and I became friends over email, following things we wrote about transgender athletes.
“Inclusion of trans women and girls without regard to the extent of their male physical development or hormonal status reduces female athletes’ chances of winning podium places and championships,” Coleman wrote in a statement. E-mail. “In effect, as some advocacy groups have argued, this means that only women have the right to participate, not also to win, in girls’ and women’s sport.”
Many attendees at the NCAA basketball tournament wore warm-up jerseys emblazoned with the Title IX words last month, “The 37 Words That Changed America.” But is there anyone really interested in the evolution of Title IX to keep changing America? The athletes most impacted by the transgender sports movement are cisgender women. That’s why criticizing Stefanowski for wanting more answers betrays the entire women’s sports movement.
I could stop here, of course. Many of you don’t care about science, nuance or truth. You see Stefanowski’s name attached to it and automatically dismiss it as conversational propaganda. The same way others see something attached to Governor Lamont or President Biden and start with the Brandons and the Snowflakes. Rinse and repeat.
And we’re getting nowhere.
So I ask again: why can’t we envision a sport-centric law that recognizes the unique challenges of sport and takes into account the physical component of success that exists virtually nowhere else in society? Again: gender discrimination in education, health care, housing and financial credit has no place in this country. But we have to – have to – realize and accept that sport is different.
And criticizing Stefanowski for his willingness to explore the subject because it violates a political agenda illustrates once again that many people in this country are not as smart as they think.
That’s the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro