March 15th, 2017 at 8:55 PM ^

I think that's a pretty small minded way of looking at it.  Even if G is purely female anotomically (and I don't know if that's the case) this is still significant from a societal perspective and raises good questions and discussion.  There are many aspects of society, sports being one of them, that has a harsh segmentation between male and female and these issues (along with the very popular bathroom issue) challenge many of our norms.  Whether or not you agree with it, it's interesting and pertinent to our lives.


March 15th, 2017 at 9:23 PM ^

WolvinLA, I agree with a lot of what you say and certainly believe you are a good willed person.  I think there will always, and appropriately be a "harsh segmentaton" between the sexes in sports.  I would even call it an "appropriate segmentation".  


I don't think it is appropriate or sexist to say I don't want to see a woman fight Connor McGregor.  I don't want to see a woman swim against Michael Phelps.  I don't want to see a woman try to pitch against Miguel Cabrerra.  The "harsh segmentation" is simply an acknowledgement of the simple fact that males and females are physically different.  That doesn't take away from a man / woman's personhood or value...just acknowledges the simple fact of reality that men are genetically physically more gifted than women on the whole.  Not in every circumstance of course...but elite male vs. elite female the male is going to win every time.

901 P

March 15th, 2017 at 9:29 PM ^

But the examples you provide are not really the equity issues that will arise. If a woman wants to compete for a spot on the men's baseball team she will either make the cut or not--and it's her decision if she wants to compete against other players who are likely faster and stronger. But what if an athlete who is born male identifies as a woman and wants to play on the women's basketball team? Then the athlete is no longer an underdog, but may have an unfair advantage. 

That was my point below: we have to figure out how to balance the rights of the transgender athlete with the rights of the athletes against whom they will compete. 

I'm not going to pretend I know the answer--I have thoughts about which way I would lean, but I'm conflicted. 


March 15th, 2017 at 11:17 PM ^

No matter what, if you have male DNA you will have an inherent physical advantage even If you don't work out so hard. This is why we have to account for gender in sports unless you want to just not have male or female sports at all. In which case every sport will be 99% male due to the inherent physical characteristics and biological traits and capability of males

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March 16th, 2017 at 12:26 AM ^

I think the solution here is to stop segregating by "gender", and start segregating by "class of athlete". So you'd have the fastest swimmers on one team, whether male/female/other, and then another team with slightly slower swimmers, whether male/female/other, etc.

Don't ask me about specifics, because I haven't thought it through that much.

901 P

March 15th, 2017 at 9:24 PM ^

And that was a big theme in the article. I think the article deserves credit for acknowledging that these are tough issues and we are entering into uncharted waters (pun kind of intended). How do we come up with policies for athletic competitions that are fair to individual athletes who may have complicated gender identities AND other athletes who are also participating? This is a new dilemma and I don't think we've figured out the answer. 


March 15th, 2017 at 10:36 PM ^

The answer isn't difficult at all to your question of "How do we come up with policies for athletic competitions that are fair to individual athletes who may have complicated gender identites and the other athletes who are also participating?".  It isn't popular, but it is an easy answer.


I would propose this.  You have an "XY chromosome" and an "XX chromosome" division.  An athlete can identify with any gender they want.  They can be called any pronoun they want.  The deciding 100% objective, and I believe the most in line with fair play / sportsmanship, is to have contestants competing against the "same sex chromosome".  Again, you can identy with any gender, but you can only compete agains similar "sexual chromosomes".

901 P

March 15th, 2017 at 10:57 PM ^

That may be the best solution, but I'm not sure it is a perfect or easy one. What if a person is born with ambiguous genitalia (something that I understand is not all that uncommon), and the parents raise that child as a boy. Turns out that the child, is actually xx rather than xy. I imagine as the child grows he will, for all intents and pursposes, identify as and be treated as a boy. When the boy gets to some competitive level of athletics, he is told that he has to compete in the xx division.

Or maybe the opposite is more likely--a child with xx chromosomes but ambiguous genitalia being raised as a girl. I don't know enough about the topic to know which is more common, but in either case the chromosome-based athletic divisions may not be as simple as they seem. 

901 P

March 15th, 2017 at 11:23 PM ^

Thanks Lakeyale13. This is why I'm ambivalent about the blanket "no politics" rule. I get why we have it, and most of the time I agree that I don't want the blog to descend into political bickering. But occasionally we can have informative and enlightening discussions about the political issues that permeate sports. There are lots of really smart people on this blog--sometimes I want to hear how they address the most complicated (and often political) issues that we face. 

Other times I just want people to make 3-9 jokes.


March 16th, 2017 at 6:38 AM ^

Please excuse a third-party opinion, but I went back and re-read your exchange. I have to say that I found it to be intelligent, articulate, and respectful, and I applaud the two of you for having it.

But in a back-handed way, I think it’s an example of why there should be the “No Politics” rule. Your exchange was the exception, not the rule. Hey, if the mods and members of this blog could absolutely guarantee that all political discussions would be conducted like yours, then I’d be all for it.

But of course, they can’t, and it’s ridiculously naïve to think it ever could be. 901 P, you made the observation that “there are lots of really smart people on this blog,” and that’s true (many of them much smarter than me.) But it’s also unfortunately true that there are plenty who aren’t - and their default reaction to disagreement is hostility and insult. In my time here, I’ve seen arguments break out over every topic from Beilein’s recruiting ability to whether the football helmets should have a matte finish. And these are relatively unimportant topics. But if you introduce politics into what can be a combustible atmosphere … well, then this blog becomes like so many others: a shitstorm waiting to happen.

And that would be a damn shame. Speaking for myself, I really like this blog. I get to keep up on one of my favorite subjects – all things UM – and frankly, I learn a hell of a lot. (A perfect example was Ace’s recent dissection of Beilein’s offense in the Wisconsin game. I sat staring at my screen, fascinated at the ballet between Wagner’s clear-out and MAAR’s cut that led to an easy layup.)

I’ve seen other blogs and message boards that started with good intentions, but degenerated into the shitstorm I mentioned before. I’d really, really hate to see that happen here, because I enjoy this blog so much. I’d rather keep doing what that noted Wolverine fan Willie Shakespeare once wrote:

"I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.”


March 16th, 2017 at 8:29 AM ^

That's the case that worries me.  If you come down on the side of "fairness" then the girls/women shouldn't be discounted by allowing the very drugs and PEDs that are banned from being acceptable just because someone is transitioning.  The option to transition one's gender is a choice and with that may come some sacrifice.  One such sacrifice is not being able to compete against your original gender.  Maybe the solution is to expand the Special Olympics to include a trans category.  People can still train and compete.

Fenrir the Righteous

March 16th, 2017 at 8:41 AM ^

Oh wow. I can't believe I have never thought of this! From anecdotal evidence I would say this scenario is much more likely then chromosomal trisomies.

Although, if you're taking hormones to transition would you still self-categorize into your former gender for your sport? That seems philosophically inconsistent, but again as a society there is still a lot to be worked out here.


March 17th, 2017 at 1:28 AM ^

I was pointing out that just going by chromosomes isn't fair either as the transitioned birth females will have an advantage.


I also read an article recently on a high school wrestler born female transitioning to male that they would not allow to compete against boys and she's just been dominating the girls.


March 16th, 2017 at 11:20 AM ^

when speaking of a singular person in the English language.  Strictly grammatically, I find it very hard to understand what is being stated.  For example, there are times in this article when Bottom is quoted where I can't tell if he's speaking about G or the entire team.  

Rather than use "they" or "their," I would prefer a new, singular gender neutral pronoun such a "Z" or just refer to the person when they are talking about an individual, such as "G Ryan." 


March 15th, 2017 at 9:30 PM ^

Really, putting all politics aside, this would be the most objective way to classify where an athlete plays / competes.  Don't take away what pronoun someone wants to be called.  Don't take away the gender they want to identify with.  Just simply let Science, which makes no opinions just states facts, dictate.  That gets rid of all political / religious agendas.  If you are XY...you compete against males.  If you are XX you compete against females.  We can call still call you by the pronoun you want or even the gender you want to identify with, but your genetics (100% objective) dictate where you compete and who you compete against.


March 16th, 2017 at 12:32 AM ^

I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but there's a tricky situation here: hormone therapy.

Someone who has XX chromosomes competing in the XX league but taking testosterone supplements? Not fair to the rest of the XX league.

Likewise, someone competing in the XY league on estrogen wouldn't stand a chance. There's a lot of context in this issue.


March 15th, 2017 at 9:43 PM ^

For the 0.1% of the population, I would suggest using Science to measure their testosterone level.  If it correlated more with a male, then the individual would compete against males, if the T Level correlated more with a female then against they females they would compete.  If in the middle, then take your pick.  LOL


March 16th, 2017 at 8:35 AM ^

I mean, 0.1% is not very large, but against the world population that is a lot of people.  This topic is getting more exposture now, but still...

Another question: This seems to be a primarily American thing.  Are other countries facing the issue of gender transition at the same rate as the US?