Nowadays, feminists are all up in arms about the insertion of males who declare themselves to be females into women’s sports. This is not an unreasonable concern for, if encouraged, or even allowed, transsexuals will sound the death knell of female athletic competitions.
The latest episode of transgender incursions in women’s sports concerns New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who previously lifted weights as a male. The Olympic authorities of that nation have not yet decided whether Hubbard will represent them in this year’s event in Japan, but they may very well do so. If they do, there goes an Olympic spot that would otherwise have gone to a biological woman. Feminists are once again outraged.
The biological fact is that boys, whether they declare themselves females or not, are stronger, faster, quicker, and more agile, than girls. This gives them a gigantic competitive advantage in pretty much every sport.
For example, almost 300 high school boys can beat the women’s world record in the quarter mile. Similar disparities between teenage boys and female Olympic champions exist in many other track and field events, as well as in swimming. John McEnroe famously speculated that if Serena Williams, one of the best female tennis players ever, competed with men, she would rank around 700th in the world.
There are now numerous cases on record in which male transsexuals entered female races and pulverized the field. The feminists are quite right to object to this undermining of girls’ sports. Happily, enlightened states such as Mississippi are now protecting young ladies from these unwarranted and unjustified invasions. Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves just signed a bill to ban trans athletes from women’s sports.
Yet, it was not that long ago that the shoe was on the other feminist foot. Then, they were demanding that girls be allowed to compete with boys in sports such as wrestling. The male wrestlers were appalled. Coming from decent families, boys were told “Don’t hit girls (and don’t crush them either!)” How to quell this incursion? Start the match flat on your back, lie there, get pinned, and allow the girls to win all the competitions? Take the very opposite tack? The former didn’t embarrass them, and the latter went against the grain of civilized order. The result was a despoliation of the sport of wrestling, courtesy of the feminists.
Now, what they were previously doing to male wrestlers is being done to them by the transsexuals. They do not at all appreciate the latter intrusion and are in splendid ignorance of the fact that they were previously guilty of the very same act of trespass. How’s that for “mansplaining?”
What about male transsexuals? Are they to have no competitive arenas of their own? Due to their use of estrogen, they are weaker and less competitive than otherwise would have been the case, but still far stronger than undrugged girls. And their female to male counterparts are stronger and thus more competitive than they were before, thanks to doses of testosterone, but still nowhere near the level of males. No, they should not be banished from sports rivalry. They, too, deserve to experience the joys of competition. They should be allowed to organize their own events, whether in high school, college or the Olympics. We already have the Paralympic Games. Why not also organize athletic games for transsexuals?
Walter Block is an economics professor at Loyola University and a Mises Institute senior fellow. He is author or several books, including Defending the Undefendable (1976).