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June 22, 2022 — Legislation in the right place

Over the last few years, there has been a major push in American state legislatures to try to regulate or outright ban transgender high school athletes from competing in interscholastic sports.

Most of these are blanket bans; it wouldn’t matter if you were a basketball player, a swimmer, or a skier: if you compete and identify as a different gender from which you were born, you would not be able to get the benefits of interscholastic athletics.

I’ve always been against these kinds of state regulations, because these are ill-equipped and ill-informed people who are creating more laws and more bureaucracy. I’ve always said that any and all regulations regarding transgender people in sport must be promulgated by the governing bodies of the sport.

In the last week, two such governing bodies have taken action. Last week, the International Cycling Union passed new regulations which doubled the period of time before a rider transitioning from male to female could compete. Even after the transition, a cyclist cannot have more than 2.5 nanomoles per liter of testosterone for a 24-month period before being allowed to compete.

Last Sunday, FINA, the world governing body for swimming, effectively banned any and all transgender women from participating under swimming competitions under their control.

Under the policy, transgender women would have to show that they have not experienced male puberty at any stage before the age of 12, which is an extremely broad brush designed to keep out any and all transgender people out of competitive swimming.

Unlike the ICU, however, FINA is looking to create a competition, an “open” category, for future competition for people who do not meet the criteria for either the men’s or women’s events.

The legalese surrounding this extremely complicated rights issue is certain to build up amongst each and every Olympic and non-Olympic sports — everything from Taekwondo to tackle football, from jai-alai to basketball.

Thing is, there seems to be a push from people who do not want to see equality for men and women, those who see the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs or the IndyCar win for Danica Patrick in 2008, or when pro bowler Kelly Kulick won the 2010 Firestone Tournament of Champions as less of an anomaly and more of an abomination.

I disagree with the latter. The women who won these events earned their way into the sport, competed well, and used their talent to gain a victory.

Thing is, so many women have to do this on a daily basis, whether it is working for a police force, working in an office environment, or providing critical services. And often doing this while making 75 percent of what a male makes in the same job.

To me, the conversation about transgender folks in sports is one which is dwarfed by the issues of inequality between men and women. That’s something that needs to be addressed post-haste.

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