Once you stop

The problem of how to define the word “woman” is a thorny one. There are many varieties of woman & so many ways to become one. One may be born a woman, socialised a woman, feeling an essence of a woman, or surgically created as a woman. The tension between these types of woman is difficult to resolve, and it is easier to define a woman as an essence not a reality.

Once you stop creating logical knots to loop in trans women, the difficulty dissolves.

All the rich variety of womanhood is encapsulated. Brown women, rich women, tribal women and business women are all included. Excluded are males who might wear lipstick, have breasts and have their penises inverted.

Without these males, you are left with the simple truth: a woman is an adult human female. Males may dress how they wish, they may modify their bodies, but they will never become women. Their identities are valid, but those identities are not female.

Once you stop trying so hard to include men, you can finally see who you are as a woman.

How Many Transgender People Live in Australia?

Once, in 2016, the Australian Census asked a question designed to discover the number of transgender people who live in Australia.

1260 people chose to answer this question in a valid way. This means it can be interpreted by the readers.

17.3% of the 1260 identified themselves as non-binary. 5.5% and 7.5% were trans male and trans female respectively. 13.2% are simply “transgender”.

ABS

18.1% identified themselves as “another gender” and a further 34.9% were “other” without clarification.

Of these 1260 people, transgender, trans male and trans females make up 26.2% of the sample or 330 people. Throwing in non-binary brings us to 43.5%, or 548 people.


Visualising this data

But for the purpose of this post, imagine the full 1260 are transgender. I just want to try to visualise this data.

The first call for visualising data is it to pop it into a column graph. Here is the Trans population in 2016 versus the total population of Australia in 2016. The total population is 24 million. The trans number is so small it can’t be seen in comparison.

A technique for showing very large and small numbers together on the same scale is to us a logarithmic scale. This graph shows the transgender population in 2016 (1260) and the total Australian population in 2016 (24 million) on a log scale so that they can be compared.

You can see the scale is different on the vertical axis.

But the trans population has come out of the closet!

In 2016, transgender people may not have felt comfortable self-declaring. Things may have changed in the intervening 5 year period. Indeed it will be interesting to see the population growth over time.

Australia’s growth rate is accepted to be about 1.5% per year.

Imagine though, that transgender acceptance is growing so fast that the transgender community doubles every year. That growth rate would be 67 times the growth rate of the total Australian population. This is possible, because the rate does not depend on births, deaths or migration.

What does that progression look like?

Again, the number is so small it can’t be detected visually in comparison to the total population. A log graph does help this time.

By the time we get to 2020, the Australian population sits at 25.6 million and our (pretend) exploded trans population sits at 20 000.

That is, providing the population does double every single year.

The reality today

If we accept that all of the 1260 people who answered the question were trans (they weren’t). Then this is where we are at today.

Next time you are bullied, shouted down, when the screaming hordes of the Internet threaten you with rape, use this visualisation tool.

Point Oh Oh Five percent.


Edit: I had incorrectly transcribed the numbers for the commentary about the composition of the 1260. The graphical analysis stands.

I’m a Man in a Men’s Prison

So why am I here?

This is the question asked by cartoon-form Mara Ellis in the start of the web comic about his time in prison. The artistic graphic story by Sam Luke chronicles Mara’s experience spending 4 months in prison. It is hosted by ABC and was the subject of an article and a 40 minute podcast.

I want to examine some aspects of the narrative we are presented about this transgender woman’s experience. In several states, people are sent to a male or female prison according to their stated gender identity rather than their actual sex, and some males may be sent to female prisons on an ad hoc basis.

Mara is a Victim, Of Course

To be clear: Mara is a violent.

He was incarcerated for violence toward a partner and violence toward the police. During his incarceration he continues to be violent and when punished, interprets this as transphobia.

The narrative maintains Mara as a victim. All violence is downplayed, excused and blamed on other people. There is a mystical essence about the trans-women-as-victim narrative. Victims have no culpability, and fulfilling their every need is mitzvah. I first read about Mara in an article in Junkee promoting a GoFundMe to aid transgender women in prisons. Note that special items being funded include gender-affirming underwear.

There’s something not quite right in here. On Maslow’s hierarchy of need, wouldn’t specialist lingerie come at the top, nearer to the things you buy for yourself and not with charity? Somewhere after fresh coffee and a good book.

Everything is Transphobic

Mara interprets many events during his stay as prejudicial.

He is strip-searched by female guards on the top half and by male guards on the bottom half.

This seems like a clunky attempt to maintain a male/female boundary for a sensitive individual.

This is interpreted by Mara as deliberately dehumanising and disassociating his male and ‘female’ parts.

Punching Up

He gets into an altercation with a man who calls Mara a “f*ggot” while Mara is using the telephone. So Mara punches him in the face. As a result he put into solitary for punishment.

The story casts this as unfair because of the homophobic slur. However Mara is not “fighting the good fight”. He’s in prison alongside violent men and rules are enforced across the board. When riled, he lashes out because he is violent.

Punching up, though, is an accepted tactic in identitarian circles. If we see Mara as a victim, a woman out of their league in a male prison, his violence becomes an act of girl power.

Unit One

Mara goes back and forth between Unit One and Mainstream. Unit One is a special area and also contains the solitary confinement cells.

As a transgender prisoner he starts in Unit One as a safety measure – keeping him out of the larger Mainstream community. The article and the graphic story paint this as illegal continuous solitary confinement. However he states he is out of his cell, and is able to mingle enough to get into an altercation.

After the violent outburst while using the telephone, he’s punished with solitary confinement. “When my punishment ends they take me to a different part of Unit One”. The narrative is quite slippery on the timelines and the exact nature of these accomodations. With the exception of noting that it is “excruciating“.

Later, another violent outburst sees Mara being sent to Mainstream, but this isn’t what he wanted either.

SO, AFTER MONTHS IN ISOLATION, ALL OF A SUDDEN I’M ALLOWED TO GO TO THE FUCKING MAINSTREAM PRISON AND SHARE A CELL WITH A DUDE?

WHY ARE YOU SENDING ME HERE AFTER YOU’VE BEEN KEEPING ME SEGREGATED FROM THE REST OF THE POPULATION UP UNTIL NOW? WHY?

Mara Ellis

I’ve never been to prison, but I gather it’s not a place where you get what you want very often.

Sexual Harassment: Bucketloads of Cognitive Dissonance

Imagine being a vulnerable prisoner, alone in your cell. Two men approach: stronger, larger than you. There’s no one around and they tell you to suck their dicks.

You don’t want to be beaten up or anything.

What choice do you have? All power has been taken from you. Nobody should be put in this situation.

But this is where Mara would put all female prisoners.

If Mara, a male person with a penis, should go to a female prison because he says so then any male can go to a female prison because he says so.

Women, alone in their cells. Locked in at night with men who are bigger, stronger, heavier. Women with reproductive systems capable of becoming pregnant when raped. These women have a lot to lose and it’s not too much to give them this one basic protection.

Why is Mara in a Male Prison?

In a word: numbers.

There are 43 000 prisoners in Australia, 8% of whom are women, and less than 1% (estimated 200 to 400) are trans- and gender-diverse.

In WA where Mara’s story takes place there are 6900 prisoners, 10% of whom are female and are housed in female-only prisons. It is not known how many transgender prisoners are incarcerated in WA. They are housed under special arrangements according to individual prison rules, and prisons have wide latitude here.

There are no firm rules about where transgender prisoners serve time, and they may be housed on a case by case basis. Mara still has a penis, and is a violent offender. This may be why he was directed to a male facility. Or it may be due to capacity in the female prisons.

There are 18 prisons in WA, 15 male and 3 female. In operational terms: it is easy for the vast male population across 13 prisons to absorb a few hundred prisoners under special arrangements.

Is it transphobic to house a violent prisoner, in full possession of a penis, with a similar cohort? Or is it a sensible operational policy?

Alternatives

I’m simply going to quote the ABC’s expert, Chairperson of the NSW Trans and Gender Diverse Criminal Justice System Advisory Council, Kaz Zinnetti.

But Ms Zinnetti said her preference is for trans women to be housed in women’s prisons,

“I believe separate facilities to accommodate trans and gender diverse individuals potentially places them at risk of further stigmatisation and discrimination,” she said.

Let’s see that again. Her preference is for trans women to be housed in women’s prisons because prisons designed for trans people would be stigmatising. In the same way that low-security prisons stigmatise non-violent offenders? In the same way than drug rehab stigmatises drug addicts?

This expert of gender-diverse justice tells us that creating a service designed for her constituents would stigmatise them. Her answer isn’t housing them in male prisons, but telling women to make room.

Why We Can’t Let This Stand

If Mara is a woman (and the ABC says he is one) then he is a victim. A victim of a system not set up for him, of cis-normativity. A victim of male violence. Incarcerated with men, he is even more of a victim that female prisoners. He has even fewer rights than female prisoners.

This means women should make room for someone less fortunate. Someone who is ‘just like them’. It’s in the name, after all. Trans-woman.

It means that women should ignore the danger of males in their spaces while they are vulnerable. It means women should avoid “stigmatising” trans women by making them sleep elsewhere.

Should we forget Mara’s history of violence? That he was incarcerated for partner violence and assaulting police. That he continued to act violently in prison. Would he have behaved differently in a female prison?

I’ll say this again: the ABC, our national broadcaster, is telling us that women should move over for men who say they are women. Our national broadcaster put a spotlight on the experience of a violent male in a male prison so they can make the argument that men belong in women’s spaces.

Last But Not Least

No one has broached the issue of whether trans men are safe in male prisons.

References & Attribution

Screenshots are taken from the hauntingly beautiful graphic story by Samuel Luke.

Do go and read the whole thing. There is an overview at the end about the status of trans prisoner rights / treatment in Australia. There are also links to a 40 minute audio documentary and a news article on trans prisoners. It’s all cast in the same vein – “why are women in men’s prisons?”

Geek Feminism is where I got the definition of “Punching Up“. It’s not a great definition but I want to quote their example: the ethics of doxxing someone who is harassing you are different from those of doxxing a woman whose technical opinions you slightly dislike. In other words, it’s OK to doxx as long as you’re doxxing the right person.

Australian Bureau of Statistics holds data on prison populations and crime.

Disclaimer

In case it needs to be said

  • no, violence is not acceptable
  • being in prison is already hard I don’t believe for a minute that prisoners deserve additional bad treatment like sexual assault
  • no, no-one should be raped or sexually assaulted ever
  • trans women generally are NOT more vulnerable than women generally
  • Mara seems like he’s had a tough life and I have sympathy for that
  • no, no, no, the answer to protecting Mara is NOT to house him in a female facility

Action! Support Coogee Women’s Baths (McIver Baths)

McIver Baths, better known to some as Coogee Women’s Pool are under attack by trans rights activists for their inclusive transgender policy. Yes, you read that correctly.

Their policy was “Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry.” are allowed entry.

This isn’t sufficiently inclusive for some activists, who attacked the organisation on Facebook.

Their facebook page has now been removed.

The rules on the website have been updated:

12pm versus 2:30pm on Tues 12 Jan 2021

According to news.com, Randwick Council have made a statement in support of allowing transgender identifying males into the pool.

“It is our understanding the Association has always had a policy of inclusion and we have been in contact with the management of the baths to ask them to more accurately communicate this inclusive position on the issue on their website.”

What you should do now?

1 WRITE TO RANDWICK COUNCIL SUPPORTING SINGLE SEX SPACES

Websitehttps://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/about-council/council-and-councillors/contact-us

Emailcouncil@randwick.nsw.gov.au

Call during office hours – Our hours are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). 02 9093 6000 or 1300 722 542

Write Randwick Council a letter

Randwick City Council
Administration Building & Customer Service Centre
30 Frances Street
Randwick NSW 2031

Use social media to tell Randwick Council that we need single sex spaces

Facebook www.facebook.com/randwickcitycouncil

Twitter www.twitter.com/randwickcouncil

Instagram www.instagram.com/randwickcouncil

YouTube
www.youtube.com/randwickcouncil

2 SEND A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TO McIVER LADIES BATHS

Websitehttps://www.mciversladiesbaths.com/

Contact Formhttps://www.mciversladiesbaths.com/contact

3 JOIN OR MONITOR THE SYDNEY TRA FACEBOOK GROUP

Find out what hijinks they’re up to next. Link here

Sex is not a spectrum

I’d be happy to get feedback on this one. I’m not too sure it comes across.

I am sure that sex is not a spectrum.

When we hear “sex is a spectrum” you’d usually think of this a really nice even distribution of colours. All types of possibilities bleeding into one another. Males blending with females. Intersex in the middle bridging the gap. Non-binaries off in a corner because no one knows how to use “they” as a singular pronoun.

But in actual fact there is only male and female and a tiny proportion of people who have intersex or DSD traits. DSD stands for differences in sexual development, not as I said in my previous blog post, “disorders of sexual development”.

In that previous post I relied on an article from Intersex Human Rights Australia about the difficulties in finding out how many intersex people there are. They have a table of estimated numbers. I noticed that one type dominated the table, makin up 1.5% of the estimated 1.73% of people with Intersex conditions.

IHRA

Emily Quinn gives a stirring TEDx Talk about being Intersex. She starts with “I was 10 years old when I found out I can’t have children”. She goes on to detail a history of being treated as a science experiment and of unnecessary genital examinations.

The rhetoric of “sex as a spectrum” uses Emily’s story to justify a mythical mosaic of sexes. If Emily exists, the narrative runs, then anything must be possible. It leads to the fallacy that “trans” is either it’s own sex, or the visible metamorphosis of male into female.

It leads to the creation of the mystical non-binary. A being who lives between the sexes, and yet is constantly pissed when their very real sexed bodies are recognised by others.

It leads to this condescending non-binary claptrap. (Sorry I try to be positive, but sometimes I fail).

Alok

This is from a video by Alok, but I’ll also link to the Magdalene Berns reaction video for context. The ultimate message is great: make room for variation. But the way it gets there is via blaming the fact of 2 sexes for white imperialism.

“Sex is a spectrum” is used to associate the biological reality with harmful totalitarianism. By conflating gender with sex, is used to imply that a binary has been imposed where none exists. The gender binary is a construct, but the error is in extending this understanding to material reality.

Anyone claiming biological reality is decried as oppressive. We will inevitably lose the language that allows us to know and master our own bodies.

Sex is not actually a spectrum. A spectrum is for things that are continuous, like soft-serve ice cream, not for things that are discreet like chromosomal variation. Even a non-biologist knows that. Yes there are variations because that is how evolution works. For the moment, these are rare, and in the future who knows?

Urgent for Tasmanians & All Australians (Oppose “gender identity conversion” reform)

Urgent action required by 28 January 2021 –
Complete the law reform survey to oppose this law reform

In late November the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute launched a consultation period around reforms to laws relating to conversion practices. Conversion can be from homosexual to heterosexual, but also from transgender to cisgender.

“…conversion practices are attempts to change or suppress a person’s … gender identity; to ‘convert’ someone who is … transgender into a … cisgendered person.

TLRI

How do you convert a “trans” into a “cis”?

By not affirming their gender identity. This proposed reforms will criminalise anyone who fails to affirm and provide transgender medical treatment.

See my blog post here for more detail.

What else is wrong with the reform?

  • Non-medicalised therapy is criminalised, even when this is sought out by the patient
  • Creates a statutory body that has powers to investigate “conversion practices”
  • Redefines sexual orientation so that it no longer refers to sex. “sexual orientation means a person’s emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with, persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender“.
  • Redefines sex to gender identity.

What should you do?

1 Go to the Law Reform Institute consultation page.

2 Read their issues paper.

3 Make a submission online opposing the portion of the bill that deals with

  • gender identity conversion practices
  • criminalising a “watchful waiting” approach
  • redefining sex to gender
  • redefining sexual orientation to “attraction to people of the same gender, opposite gender or more than one gender”
  • reducing male and female to ‘mannerisms’

THEN

Contact Tasmanian Law Reform Institute

Law.Reform@utas.edu.au or via post to Private Bag 89, HOBART TAS 7001

Tweet about it include #GC_aus to include women in Australia

Facebook Follow their Facebook page for updates

IF YOU STILL HAVE TIME

WRITE TO YOUR STATE MP and tell them you oppose this proposed reforms that:

  • undermines the rights of parents to support their children who may be questioning their gender or sexual orientation
  • takes away the right of people to support if they want to question their gender identity and/sexual orientation
  • it erases homosexuals by redefining sexual orientation
  • reduces womanhood and manhood to stereotypes and ‘mannerisms’

WRITE TO THE LABOUR PARTY. The Labor party has introduced these bills in other states. Let them know you aren’t happy.

WRITE TO A SENATOR – Tell them what you told the MP.

SHOW SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO ARE FIGHTING BACK.

Are Trans People Excluded from Australian Sport?

A closer look at the claims

The organisation Pride in Sport have released an advertorial promoting trans inclusion in sport. The video message emphasises inclusivity as a balm against the “higher than normal levels of harassment and exclusion” and discrimination faced by trans individuals in sport.

Because trans inclusion in sport will mean males playing in female categories, I want to examine the claims being made here. These narratives sway public opinion on the promotion of male athletes into female sport and label concerned women as bigots if they raise safety concerns.

The claims

The video features a number of athletes, coaches and ambassadors from all levels of sport. Together they make 2 claims.

Firstly that participation in sport is good for people and for communities. There should be no debate here. Australia has one of the highest rates of sport participation in the world for a good reason. Sport is good for us. It builds confidence, social skills, acuity, strength and fitness.

Secondly, they claim that trans individuals face “higher than normal levels of harassment and exclusion” and are discriminated against and prevent from participating in sport. Nowhere is this supported or evidenced within the video. Nor is it even mentioned on Pride in Sport’s dedicated webpage on trans inclusion.

Higher than normal

What is a “normal” level of harassment?

When female athlete Lauryn Eagle wanted to transition from water skiing to boxing she approached trainer Billy Hussein. He turned her down at first, before subjecting her to a hazing.

Soon after, he had her step into the ring with one of his male fighters, and quietly told him to “hit her in the liver”. With one thump to her organ, Eagle was dropped. Hussein ordered her to rise, told his man to hit the liver again, and down she went, tears streaming down her face.

Perth Now

A male fighter hitting a female non-fighter in a vital organ until she cries. Is this a “normal” level of harassment?

When female AFL player Tayla Harris was captured executing an outstanding kick, 1000s of sexual comments were generated. The AWFL deleted the image as a way of removing the 5000+ comments about her crotch.

One supporting tweeter juxtaposed Harris with an image of a male professional with the caption “One these people gets paid a few hundred per game, the other got a few thousand“. Underpaid for the same job and sexually harassed when she does it well. Is this a “normal” amount of harassment?

Commenting on the incident, ABC notes that female athletes are 3 times more likely to receive abuse.

“When [young girls] see this kind of harassment, abuse and trolling of women athletes, that sends a really strong message to a lot of girls.”

Social media abuse targets female athletes three times more than men, study finds

Is this a “normal” level of abuse?

What about trans women?

Let’s look at 2 of the individuals featured in the video: Roxy Tickle and Ricki Coughlan.

Roxy Tickle is a 50-year old trans-identified male (trans woman) who plays hockey with the local women’s team in Lismore, among other sports. Of the several articles I found about Roxy, all were laudatory.

In one, he states that he agonised for “a few weeks” before fronting up to join the hockey team and was then immediately accepted by the team. Roxy has some wonderful things to say about how included he feels –

“…when I joined the team, I felt so comfortable – my team enveloped me with love.”

Roxy Tickle

This doesn’t sound like exclusion and discrimination. It sounds like what amateur sport should be in Australia: fun and inclusive. Roxy does demonstrate to a possible cause of trans exclusion: his own assumptions about joining in.

“It has never been illegal to do so – we just assumed we couldn’t.”

Roxy Tickle

Pride in Sport’s video cycles through the personalities, each contributing a few words to a sentence. Ricki Coughlan is the person who speaks the words “harassment and exclusion“.

Coughlan, is now 62 and a Pride in Sport Ambassador. He was recently featured on the ABC’s “In Her Words” (ABC)(YouTube) special on trans women athletes. Ricki began competing as a middle-distance runner some time after transition.

There is an argument that we could reserve the elite levels as single-sex but allow males and females to compete together at the lower levels. Ricki’s case highlights why this doesn’t work. He is a good runner, not an outstanding runner. He won regional and state awards, nothing big. But in doing so, he beat females who would rely on those wins to get them to the next level.

When he was outed, the reaction was not as expected. He was featured on the cover of ITA Magazine and interviewed by Andrew Denton on Live and Sweaty in 1992. In Ricki’s own words, he faced acceptance not exclusion.

“I thought I was going to experience oppression and shaming and marginalising and othering, and it was completely the opposite. … I just discovered this wonderful, generous Australia, who was going to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

Ricki Coughlan, ABC

The only people unhappy with Ricki competing against females (not existing, not competing, but competing against females) were the females he raced against. They organised a petition after he was outed. Having a male body, male muscles and a male heart gave him an advantage that lead to his success.

“Now and again I would think, well would there be a problem if someone found out about my past while I was racing?”

Ricki Coughlan, ABC

Being applauded for withholding a biological advantage from your competitors. Having them circulate a petition to express their sense of injustice. Is this harassment?

These days Ricki believes Australia has taken a retrograde step on trans inclusion, but doesn’t support that view in either the Pride in Sport video or in the ABC special.

A detour past Hannah Mouncey and Caroline Layt

The ABC “In Her Words” special also featured Handball/AFL player Hannah Mouncey and Rugby Player Caroline Layt.

Mouncey’s sheer bulk makes him a feature of many “is this fair” memes about males in female sport.

Hannah Mouncey is 1.9m and 100kg AFL player who is surrounded by rumour. He allegedly broke a woman’s leg during training. Another rumour is that he refused to stop showering with the women even after they expressed discomfort through a coach. There was a period where Mouncey was barred from playing on the women’s side due to safety concerns. The AFLW were caught off-guard and didn’t have a rule in place. He simply switched back to handball for the period.

This emotionally-charged ABC ‘article‘ notes – “You did not have to go far below the line on stories about Mouncey to see praise for the AFL’s decision peppered with humiliating terms like “it”, “freak” and even worse. That’s incredibly unfortunate and shouldn’t be tolerated. But the article also remarks

Yet at the AFLW draft, 18 year-old women who should have been talking about kicks and marks were put in the awkward position of answering questions about the AFLW’s still fluid and contradictory transgender policy.

ABC

Is it reasonable to put young women in a position to appear ‘transphobic’ if they express relief or possibly feel deceitful if they express support?

Caroline Layt played womens’ representative rugby through the 2000s and “didn’t really have a problem” doing so. He faced backlash when outed by a male coach who “made it a bit difficult” for him. He was accepted by team mates but they felt betrayed by being lied to over a number of years.

Caroline still plays a number of different sports. Like Roxy Tickle, he is a role model for sporting participation.

When asked what’s holding trans athletes back, Caroline has no problem pointing the finger at women. He states squarely that “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists” spread misinformation by calling male-bodied athletes “male-bodied athletes”. He claims that hormone therapy not only negates sex-based advantage but actually changes the body from male to female.

He believes that feminists are holding trans athletes back from olympic competition. In fact, the IOC has clear guidelines that allow male-bodied transgender athletes to participate with much higher testosterone than females.

Is this exclusion?

The science

See: my post about testosterone at the Olympics

In terms of fairness, not only are trans individuals allowed to compete, male-bodied athletes are able to compete at twice the level that would disqualify a female. This is clearly unfair for female athletes.

Trans identified males must lower their testosterone levels to 10nm/L. A female athlete would be disqualified at 5nm/L and the average female level is 2nm/L.

A 2019 paper concludes that reduced testosterone isn’t sufficient to negate competitive advantage of a male body. Men have more muscle mass, larger heart, increase blood oxygenation and larger, stronger bones. Empirical testing found that reducing testosterone did not negate the advantage of a male body. The relevant section is read aloud by Holly Lawford-Smith and can be read here.

Noel Plum has take some time and care to assemble several videos on the science and policy of Trans people in elite sport.

The Rules

With the help of lobby group Pride in Sport, Sport Australia developed the Trans and Gender Diverse Guidelines on Inclusion. It is almost identical to Pride in Sport’s similarly named document.

The guide includes the rule that it is harassment to refuse to play with/against a trans person. A 5ft female AFL player cannot refuse to play against a 6ft 100kg male on the grounds of safety. It is harassment to ask a trans person to leave the bathrooms. An 18 year old female may not refuse to shower alongside a 50 year old male. The woman can be barred from her club and her sport.

These rules are for his comfort, not for hers.

Is this harassment?

Pressure tactics

Pride In Sport’s trans inclusion page displays the badges of 9 sports-governing bodies that champion trans inclusion with their rules, policies and culture. That covers some of the most popular sports such as cricket, netball, all the footballs.

An additional 13 badges are sports ‘committed’ to developing inclusion policies. Pride in Sport separately list the sports that have a transgender policy. There are are more who presumably didn’t pay for a badge. Wrestling has no badge but has a policy that generously allows male-bodied athletes to compete in female categories. Wrestling is a full-contact sport reliant on speed, strength and recovery.

Pride in Sport also maintain a register of sports who have, and who haven’t got one.

Off the bat that is more than 21 sports that definitively support transgender participation. Yet the exclusion narrative remains.

The power of the narrative

Supporting the exclusion narrative is a sizeable section of the Pride in Sport’s trans page devoted to Lifeline. This cements the idea that trans people are at risk of suicide if not supported unconditionally.

The more these men can be seen as victims, the more our apologetic society caters for them. We are a culture on the rebound from a history filled with racism, homophobia, sex discrimination and classism. We are on the lookout for ways to make amends, and some people have found a way to capitalise.

Coughlan, Tickle and Layt all acknowledge the inclusivity of amateur sports. Tickle and Layt both playing several sports in the Masters. Coughlan is still an active runner and coach.

Trans identified athletes have been welcomed and encouraged in Australia since the at least the early 90’s. The narrative of exclusion is part projection, and partly an grab for rights born out of male entitlement. Roxy Tickle assumed he couldn’t play, but worked up the nerve to discover the prejudices were his projections. Coughlan and Layt were outed against their will, but found inclusion. The only rights stripped from them was the right to win against females.

Hannah Mouncey has projected transphobia onto a decision to bar him from competing on the grounds of safety. He felt entitled to be treated according to his self-image, and he felt entitled to win against women. The decision was reversed and his response was the twitterverse equivalent of asking a waiter “what took you so long?”

Power is being able to go where you want when you want. Power is having people defer to your will. These men are included, they are winners, they get what they want.

Is this harassment?

Who’s really pulling the strings?

Perhaps this is more of the backlash against women’s empowerment. When women raise objections on the grounds of fairness, it is deemed by Coughlan as “going backwards”. It is deemed by Layt as all the TERFs stopping him going to the Olympics. In all this, trans people are the victims. The rules protect them against women.

While society rushes to correct past and perceived racism and homophobia, discrimination against women is still allowable. No longer silenced in the boardroom, we are now silenced about our right to claim a female identity. Because trans people are the victims, women must be the all-powerful perpetrators of higher than usual levels of harassment and exclusion.

Yeah right.

Women simply demand fairness. When safety, careers and olympic hopes are on the line, it is patently unfair to give top spots to athletes who have a clear athletic advantage. Male bodied athletes should simply include themselves in the male competition. If sporting participation is the goal, then this can be achieved without knocking women off the podium.

Where will Pride In Sport be when women start to get seriously injured as a result of males playing female sport? How many injuries will it take before this issue goes away?

Who is fighting back?

Write an email, send some $, retweet, cast your vote to –

Clare Chandler (NLP) is fighting for sex-based rights, particularly in sport.

Save Women’s Sports Australasia

Notes

  • You have to hand it to Roxy Tickle for picking one of the best names ever. This isn’t a sarcastic note – I really admire the sheer individuality of it.
  • I use “trans identified male” instead of “trans woman” as it makes the discussion clearer
  • I know this is a long one. I hope you stuck with it, or at least scanned enough and found a truffle of interest.