The ‘trans umbrella’ takes in anyone remoted outside of the cis-white-heteronormative milieu. Notice how there is the umbrella protects trans against the rain of cis-gender, feminism, women & masculine men? The figures at the bottom right of this image are having a conversation.
Yellow person (under an umbrella): “… but just because I’m a masculine woman, does that mean I’m transgender?”
Blue person: “No one can tell you how to identify – you get to decide for yourself!”
If you think you may be trans, then you probably are. amitrans.og says so.
But it’s just labels
It is just a label until you start counting. Suddenly everyone is trans. As the rate of transgender people skyrockets, so do the rates of transgender poverty, transgender murder, transgender achievements. So the focus shifts from finding actual pockets of poverty to solve, to promoting “transgender people” as a class. And who is at the top of that class?
While you were a non-conforming butch lesbian, your heros may once have been Melissa Etheridge, KD Lang and Susie Quattro. Now that you are under the trans umbrella, your representatives are much more likely to be straight men. Changing gender makes them non-conforming in the blink of a mascara-encrusted eye.
Now that you are trans, you are counted as a trans statistic. Your trials and achievements bolster the wealth and power of these pretenders. If you are in poverty, it bolsters the case for more funding to trans people (but not necessarily more funding for trans people who are in poverty). If you suffer violence, it will be attributed to your trans status, without looking further into the actual causes such as unsafe areas, known predators, risky behaviours and partner violence.
Stand up and be counted
Be counted as a lesbian.
Be counted as a woman.
Be counted as a woman who likes cars.
Be counted as a man who is feminine.
Be counted as part of your community.
Be counted for what you believe in.
Be counted as YOU.
Get out of that umbrella marked “trans” and you can dance under the rain
Trans is a big funnel to collect and assimilate everyone who feels different or uncomfortable in an alienated society. It is a processing engine that turns unique individuals into a trans identity. Instead of saying “hey I’m Kit, I’m a writer”, now I say “I’m Kit, I’m trans, my pronouns are he/him/his”. Individuality is stripped away, even as bodies are stripped of their unique organs.
We used to tell children not to be afraid to be themselves. Now we tell them not to be afraid to remove any trace of themselves.
Your unique qualities matter. What you do shapes the world around you. Your friends, family and every single child you come in contact with sees the way you navigate life’s challenges.
So be counted. Be proud.
They see the you are proud of your body and celebrate it without surgical amputation. They see that you love your face with it’s asymmetries and lines and thin lips. They see you delight in your passion and that you don’t let gender expectations get in your way. They see that you are a woman-loving-woman, and they know that love is love. Don’t be ashamed, don’t hide your light.
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 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’sdedicated 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Pride In Sport’strans 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.
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.
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?
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