Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reality is not optional

Laurel Hubbard made history this weekend by becoming the first transgender female to win an international weightlifting title for New Zealand. But her victory in the over-90-kilogram division, in which she lifted a combined total of 268 kilograms (roughly 590 pounds) to best silver medalist Iuniarra Sipaia of Samoa by 19 kilograms (roughly 42 pounds), was not without controversy.
Despite a year’s worth of blood tests showing Hubbard had no more testosterone running through her veins than any of the other female weightlifters competing in the Australian International this weekend, some of those Hubbard beat questioned the fairness of the competition. 
“If I was in that category I wouldn’t feel like I was in an equal situation,” two-time Olympian Deborah Acason, who competes at the 75-kilogram level, told New Zealand news site Stuff. “I just feel that if it’s not even, why are we doing the sport?”

Why, indeed?

The truth of the matter is that playing a game that pretends that the only thing that differentiates a male and a female athlete is testosterone--ignoring such things as muscle mass and center of gravity and bone structure, which have a lot to do with weightlifting ability--is both silly and unscientific. Laurel Hubbard is not a female. He is a male, who wishes to live as a female. His desire to live as a female can be somewhat accommodated by an understanding society, but it cannot alter reality for actual women, whether in the changing room, the gym shower, or the weightlifting event. It seems so blatantly obvious a truth that I am surprised it even needs to be stated.

Another truth that is impossibly obvious is this one: actual biological women are the ones who will suffer the most under any new trans-friendly agendas, programs, or societal expectations. We are the ones who have to give up our private spaces, and it matters more to us if men are using those spaces than it matters to men if the occasional woman dressed like a man enters theirs. Don't get me wrong; men shouldn't have to put up with it either. But a six-foot-tall male isn't ordinarily going to feel threatened by a five-foot-five woman who thinks she's a man entering his public bathroom in the same way that a five-foot-five woman will feel when she has to share a locker room with a six-foot-tale man who says he feels female today. And male athletes aren't facing the possible domination of their sports by women dressed like men and injecting testosterone; women have a real possibility of women's sports being erased by men who, despite dressing like women and taking steps to reduce their testosterone levels, still clearly have advantages over the actual female athletes.

But the truth I find most irritatingly and blindingly obvious is this: transgenderism is a war on reality. A man can say he feels female, and though I still maintain he does not know and never will know what it really feels like to be a woman there is room to be sympathetic and tolerant. But when a man says, "I am a woman," he is stating something which is not, in any empirical or scientific or rational way, actually true. He can identify as transgender and like women's clothing and want to be surgically altered to appear somewhat female, but what he cannot do is be, in an ontological sense, a woman, no matter how hard he tries. It is as impossible for a man to be a woman, or a woman to be a man, as it is for a fish to become a bicycle; it is not rational to believe in such possibilities. 

Some characteristics really are immutable. I, a short woman, cannot become a tall woman, though I can wear shoes that make me appear taller. I, a Caucasian woman, cannot become an African-American woman, and I think it would be sort of insulting to actual African-American women if I insisted that I could somehow become one of them. And I can no more become male than I can become a marsupial or a mongoose.

When we live in a culture in which such blindingly obvious truths have to be explained and defended, we are living in a culture that thinks reality itself has become optional. Such cultures rarely last long, and are usually replaced, sometimes violently, by cultures that have no problem distinguishing the difference between men and women.