On trans athletes and concern-trolls

A thread in response to someone arguing against trans people accessing health care because they're scared of trans athletes.

Welcome to Too Long; Don’t Tweet, a new project where I take Twitter threads the probably should have been articles, and turn them into blogs. If you follow me on Twitter (@ParkerMolloy), you probably know what’s in store. I’ll try not to send out more than 1 or 2 e-mails a week with updates.

For the most part, I won’t be changing a whole lot in terms of formatting from Twitter to blog. As my tweets auto-delete after a set period of time, though, I figured that this would be a decent way to create a somewhat more permanent home for threads I think are noteworthy.


May 25, 2019:

So, one thing transphobes like to do is post photos of trans women who *gasp* want to compete in school sports and go “But it’s not faiiiiiiir”

So let me tell you about this picture.

This is CeCe Telfer. She goes to Franklin Pierce University, and she runs track.

Right-wing websites wrote all sorts of articles throwing an absolute fit about her competing. Again this is NCAA Division II.

To the best of my ability, I wasn’t able to find a single other time any of those sites showed even the slightest interest in the NCAA Division II track championships.

So anyway, they post this photo. Oh no! She’s... taller than. The two women to her sides! *gasp*

It’s obviously so unfair that she competed against them and took their rightful place on the podium!

Except...

They both crushed her. Not even close.

She came in 3rd in that race, which was a preliminary to qualify for the final.

In the final, she finished in 6th place.

6th!

In her other event, the 200M, she didn’t qualify for the finals at all. She came in 12th in the preliminary.

So, SURELY all the places that reported about how unfair it was that she competed, blah blah blah, SURELY they all ran stories about how she lost, right?

Lol. Nope. None of them did. Not a single one of them. She no longer fit their narrative. So 🤐

I honestly don’t GAF whether the existence of trans people makes you uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t GAF what your ignorant thoughts are on sports. So, before you reply to this with “But still, I don’t think this is fair!” just know that I think your opinion is worthless.

So anyway, we never, ever hear stories about average trans athletes. Or rather, when we DO hear stories about average trans athletes, they’re framed as though they’re actually unstoppable LeBron James types.

A few months ago, there was an article about a trans woman in Brazil who plays pro volleyball. The article hints that she might be in the Olympics, and suggests she’s super dominant. But... she’s not really, and almost certainly won’t be in the Olympics.

It correctly notes that her testosterone levels are actually lower than that of the average woman. They do note that she’s very tall (6’3”) — when compared to the average woman. In the world of volleyball, though... not really (Brazil’s national team has 2 women 6’4” and 6’5”)

But let’s look at another example. Rachel McKinnon is a cyclist. She’s also trans.

She won a race and right wingers lost their minds.

This is what happened:

Someone who has beaten McKinnon in 11 out of 13 of their head to head match-ups decides that it’s “unfair” this time. Because she happened to lose.

Read McKinnon’s quote below. It summarizes the problem perfectly.

This creates what’s known as an availability heuristic.

We overestimate how common something is if it stands out. We apply more importance to it in our minds.

Here’s a great graphic explaining this

The trans athlete version of that graphic might look something like

When you point out that there aren’t currently any actual dominant trans athletes in pro/Olympic sports, people tend to immediately jump to “YET. BUT WE NEED TO PUT A STOP TO THIS BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL TRANSITION JUST TO WIN!”

Except... that argument has NEVER held up.

Because while people like to pretend that trans people started existing in society in just the past decade, that’s not true. Nor has their inclusion in sports been some recent phenomenon.

The arguments stay the same, and we keep pretending they’re new.

September 5, 1976 — more than four decades ago...

Here’s someone saying that if tennis player Renée Richards is allowed to compete against women that it will lead to women’s sports being “taken over by a giant race of surgically created women.” !!!

Richards was a mediocre tennis player when she competed pre-transition in men’s tournaments, and she was a mediocre tennis player when she competed in women’s tournaments after she came out as trans.

Why? Because hormones do have an effect on this kind of stuff.

That’s why the argument shifted from saying that she’d dominate... to fearmongering about the future of women’s sports. “Sure, there aren’t any dominant trans athletes... yet, but there WILL be...”

If it was that easy, if hormones didn’t have an impact, this would have happened.

“Yes, well, a man who competes against a woman has an advantage in most sports!”

Sure. And? As I’ve established, a lot of that advantage gets worn away by hormone replacement therapy. Renée Richards lost 40 pounds of muscle as the result of hormone therapy. This is really hard stuff to quantify, but the ridiculous arguments from people with no understanding of the issue aside from just a gut feeling about how things work, need to be ignored.

Also, total side note: this article has a really good explanation for why “just create a separate category” is completely unworkable  https://www.velonews.com/2018/10/news/commentary-the-complicated-case-of-transgender-cyclist-dr-rachel-mckinnon_480285 …

“Why don’t trans women just compete against men?!” Because they actually WOULD be at an insurmountable disadvantage.

In reporting on two transgender girls running track in Connecticut, right-wing site The Daily Caller thought it was making a clever point... but...

They thought that this would make the argument that these girls were actually just mediocre boys who transitioned just to dominate girls. What it actually showed was that hormones cut into performance, and they would struggle against boys

But... there’s one last point in this thread I want to make.

This long, long thread about trans people in sports... and it annoys me more than the misinformation about hormones or advantages or anything like that...

What annoys me the most out of everything... is that people use completely unrelated issues (in this case, misinformation about sports) to argue against trans people existing and having basic rights in the first place.

Here’s where that person’s first tweet came from... it was a response to a tweet about why discrimination in health care is wrong. That guy doesn’t give a crap about women’s sports. None of the people arguing this point do. They just think it’s a tool to use to fight trans people

What a complete asshole, right?

If you’re not okay with my existence, if you don’t think that people like me should be granted the same exact legal protections that people have on the basis of religion, race, country of origin, etc. — then you should unfollow me right now. If that means 100k of you go, fine.

Because I’ve just reached a point where I’m so unbelievably over having to explain this Trans 101 stuff, to try to make the case for equal treatment under the law. No one should have to keep doing that. I hate talking about this issue, and I genuinely wish it wasn’t relevant.

But I go to sleep wondering what horrors will come next, what new policy will be rolled out because people want a group to dump on. I’m tired of it. The world shouldn’t be like this.