Trans women can­not have it all their own way

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Mag­a­zine colum­nist of the year Di­ana Thomas’s weekly col­umn, “A New Woman: My Trans­gen­der Di­ary” is in the Tele­graph Mag­a­zine ev­ery Satur­day. Di­ana Thomas

Iam trans­gen­der. I am a fierce de­fender of the rights of trans women, and a doughty op­po­nent of anti-trans prej­u­dice. Yet I still be­lieve that World Rugby would be right to ban trans women from fe­male rugby on safety grounds.

I un­der­stand why fe­male sportswome­n are fu­ri­ous that they have to com­pete against peo­ple who have grown up as males. And I think that trans cam­paign­ers who in­sist on the right to com­pete against natal women are harm­ing the cause of trans women as a whole.

Now that I have pro­voked the Twit­ter­sphere into an orgy of loathing, let me ex­plain why I am ap­par­ently be­ing a traitor to my cause. As trans women, we have to own who we once were, as much as we cel­e­brate who we now are. And any­one who has ever ac­quired a post-ado­les­cent male body is at a huge ad­van­tage to any­one who has not.

Just com­pare the cur­rent English Un­der-17 boys’ records for all the ath­let­ics events from 100me­tres to 1500m to the win­ning times of the women at the 2016 Olympics. Our lads would have beaten the cream of the world’s fe­male ath­letes at ev­ery event ex­cept the 100m hur­dles.

And most races would not even have been close.

Not only are males faster than women, they are big­ger too. To be pre­cise, the av­er­age Bri­tish male is more than two stone heav­ier and six inches taller than the av­er­age woman.

To re­turn to rugby, if the taller, heav­ier, faster male hits the smaller, lighter, slower fe­male, there is only ever go­ing to be one win­ner. And the loser may take a while get­ting up.

Ah, you may say, but any trans woman who is al­lowed to com­pete in a fe­male sport­ing event has been on fe­male hor­mones and, quite lit­er­ally, is not the man they were.

Well, nor am I. I have taken fe­male hor­mones for more than two years. My oe­stro­gen is at nor­mal fe­male lev­els and my testos­terone is well within the World Ath­let­ics and In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee lim­its for fe­male com­peti­tors. Were I young, fit and tal­ented, I would be avail­able for se­lec­tion as a woman for Team GB at Tokyo 2021.

In fact, I am a seden­tary 61-year-old. But hav­ing once been male, my body fat is much lower than the fe­male av­er­age and my skele­tal and mus­cled mass are much higher (they are reg­u­larly tested as part of my tran­si­tion process). I am also 6ft tall.

I am there­fore much stronger than most natal women my age. A fit, highly trained trans woman in her twen­ties would like­wise have an un­fair ad­van­tage over natal women her age.

This is where trans ath­letes and cam­paign­ers un­der­stand­ably talk about their rights. Why should they be de­nied the right to pur­sue their sport­ing dreams, just be­cause their psy­cho­log­i­cal gen­der is at odds with the bod­ies they were born with? I sym­pa­thise with their long­ing to com­pete. I recog­nise their wom­an­hood. But rights, like sport, are com­pet­i­tive. Sportswome­n have their own right to fair com­pe­ti­tion. And trans women have an un­fair ad­van­tage.

Sport is a zero-sum game: ev­ery medal won by a trans woman is one less won by a natal woman. A gen­er­a­tion of fe­male Bri­tish com­peti­tors was de­nied Olympic and World Cham­pi­onship medals by Soviet bloc com­peti­tors pow­ered by il­le­gally ad­min­is­tered testos­terone. The pos­si­bil­ity that a new gen­er­a­tion might lose out to trans women is mak­ing en­e­mies out of a lot of women who would oth­er­wise sup­port us. It is not do­ing the trans cause any good at all. If I had a child who, like the young Caitlin (Bruce) Jen­ner, was both trans and a bril­liant ath­lete, I would tell them that they had a choice.

They could put their tran­si­tion on hold long enough to ful­fil their sport­ing dreams and then be­come the woman they have al­ways been in­side. Or they could pri­ori­tise their tran­si­tion, be­come that woman sooner, and en­joy their sport as a re­cre­ation.

Would that give them ev­ery­thing they want, when they want it? No. But just ask a woman, it is re­ally hard to Have It All.

Sportswome­n have their right to fair com­pe­ti­tion. And trans women have an un­fair ad­van­tage

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