No room for dissent in trans athlete debate

Cromwell High School track coach Brian Calhoun (left) speaks to transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood during a break at a meet at Hillhouse High School Feb. 7 in New Haven, Conn. Yearwood, a 17-year-old junior at Cromwell High School, is one of two transgender high school sprinters in Connecticut, transitioning to female. (AP Photo)

Over the years there has probably been no stronger advocate and representative of LGBT rights than tennis legend Martina Navratilova. No matter your personal stand on the matter, she has been a classy representative who pushed for equal rights without the usual accompanying shrillness such advocacy usually invokes.

She led by example in her sport, on the court and off the tennis court. But now is persona non grata among the radical elements of the increasingly intolerant trans community. Why? Because she dared express an opinion that did not conform.

Writing in the Sunday Times on Feb. 17, Navratilova said she was speaking out after doing more research on trans females competing in athletics against biological females.

Navratilova put it rather succinctly, writing:

“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.

“It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”

Social media hellfire then descended on Navratilova and she was pretty much declared a social pariah by trans community advocates unwilling to hear another opinion, never mind the source.

Athlete Ally, a gay rights advocacy group, demonstrated its intolerance by booting Navratilova after her comments.

Accusing Navratilova of being transphobic, the group issued a statement that Navratilova was "removed from our Advisory Board and as an Athlete Ally Ambassador, effective immediately." A case of tolerance demanded for thee but not from me.

In the wake of Navratilova's comments, there has been evidence to back up her assertion as frequently trans athletes make a mockery of the competitions by dominating their races against girls and women.

Take for instance Connecticut track student-athlete Selina Soule, a junior at Glastonbury High School who finished eighth in the 55 meters at the state open track championships, two spots away from qualifying for the New England regionals. Two trans female athletes, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood took first and second place in the race. Miller set a new girls state indoor record of 6.95 seconds. Yearwood was second in 7.01 seconds. The third-place finisher finished in 7.23 seconds. It wasn't even close.

Miller and Yearwood also finished atop the 100-meter outdoor state championships in 2018 and Miller added the 300 championship at the indoor meet.

Soule, like Navratilova, was not afraid to state the obvious, as reported by The Associated Press. It should be noted Soule is an accomplished athlete, having won the girls long jump competition.

"We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing," she said. "I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair."

Fairness is expected to be the hallmark of athletic competitions. It is not wrong to acknowledge that there are separate competitions for males and females due to biological differences, but now somehow in the interest of some misplaced sense of inclusion, that is being tossed aside. One frequently only has to "identify" as female to compete against females.

Joanna Harper, a medical physicist and transgender runner, told AP that genetic males have a distinct advantage over biologic females until hormone therapy kicks in.

"The gender identity doesn't matter, it's the testosterone levels," Harper told AP. "Trans girls should have the right to compete in sports. But cisgender girls should have the right to compete and succeed, too. How do you balance that? That's the question."

Allowing trans female athletes to compete against females seems to run counter to the argument of allowing girls and women equal footing and opportunity in the world of athletics. Beyond Connecticut, there have been ample examples of trans athletes dominating girls competitions. How long before girls simply become discouraged and throw their hands up in the air? As Soule said, what's the point of a competition when the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Maybe there needs to be four categories now? Male, female, trans female, trans male. Notably, you don't see many trans males winning male events.

It is ironic Navratilova, an inspiration to many, and who escaped repression in communist Czechoslovakia, is now being silenced. If anything, more discussion is needed and voices like those belonging to Navratilova, Soule and Dr. Harper can only lend additional, much-needed perspectives on the subject.

But dissension is not allowed or encouraged by the extreme advocacy elements controlling the narrative. Welcome to the new oppression.

Ruthenberg is sports editor for the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at daver@enidnews.com.

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