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Source: (consider it) Thread: Sex: Who Decides?
Kwesi
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I’ve started this post because although it relates to the transgender discussion regarding conservative Christian attitudes, it is somewhat tangental to that focus. The problem I want to raise is who is to decide the sex (rather than gender) of an individual- is it the subjective judgement of the individual to determine or a scientifically agreed common standard? While in most contexts it doesn’t really matter there are circumstances where it does. Physical sport is the obvious case, where the definition of male or female (sex not gender) is relevant to the promotion of fair competition. Female Soviet block athletes, for example, were pumped with testosterone to gain competitive advantage over same-sex rivals, and Caster Semenya’s case has raised a number of difficult issues. I don’t think the sport issue, at least, can be resolved without having an objective test to determine sex. What do shipmates think?
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Honest Ron Bacardi
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A problem lying at the bottom of such discussions is "what do we mean by sex"?

The scientific definition - which is foundational - is that sex is defined by which gamete you produce, (and the context being reproduction).

That's highly impractical to use for everyday purposes for reasons that should be blindingly obvious. So we have its two main proxies, phenotypic sex and genetic sex. They work most of the time, but they have their limits, and those limits are precisely where Kwesi's question is focused.

I'm not really trying to offer an answer to the question in the OP, but I think to be coherent any answer needs to bear the above in mind. If you depart from or contradict the underlying scientific definition of sex, then you will forever be in contention with that. But it's quite possible that a resolution of the question may be by defining things other than on a strictly sexual basis.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Tortuf
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If someone of a female gender wishes to compete with people of a male gender in sports I believe it should be their choice, and their choice alone. It is patronizing to suggest women cannot compete at the same level as men.

As to any other case of sex identification, it is my business about my life and none of my business about anyone else and their identification.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Female and male pertain to sex, not gender, Tortuf. That raises an entirely different issue (though related of course)

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Tortuf
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
While in most contexts it doesn’t really matter there are circumstances where it does. Physical sport is the obvious case, where the definition of male or female (sex not gender) is relevant to the promotion of fair competition.


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Kwesi
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Tortuf
quote:
If someone of a female gender wishes to compete with people of a male gender in sports I believe it should be their choice, and their choice alone. It is patronizing to suggest women cannot compete at the same level as men.
But what if someone of the male gender (sex) or a team of the same wish to compete in competitions currently reserved for the female gender (sex). Boxing? Ruby Union? Athletics? Tennis (even, Serena excepted)?
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Tortuf
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I am suggesting that separation by gender/sex is not appropriate. In wrestling competitors are separated by weight. In other sports it might be by body mass, or some other measure.

By way of example, separation by gender/sex means that women's football (soccer) gets far fewer viewers than men's football. Tell me a qualitative difference between the two.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
If someone of a female gender wishes to compete with people of a male gender in sports I believe it should be their choice, and their choice alone. It is patronizing to suggest women cannot compete at the same level as men.

The "problems" occur in the other direction, precisely because women cannot compete with men in strength / speed sports.

I see no reason at all why women and men shouldn't be equally competitive at snooker, but Flo-Jo, who still holds the women's 100m world record, wouldn't rank at a decent men's high school meet. This is (one reason) why we have separate women's competitions - because women are smaller and weaker than men. Biology and Physiology are real things.

And so the "problem" is that some B-list high school male runner would wipe the floor with a field of elite women. So it would be a nonsense to allow him to compete in a women's competition.

The controversy attached to trans women, Caster Semenya, and so on is whether their particular biology makes them "more like men". It doesn't matter for the men's competition, but the women's competition is explicitly a competition for people who are biologically weaker / slower, rather than a competition for people who wear dresses.

[ 18. November 2017, 14:23: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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(Actually, women can compete with men successfully on a number of different levels of sport such as ultra-distance (>100km) etc. But I think those sports are already open to all-comers. And sports such as football are a good one - why not mixed teams? If my village juniors can manage it (which they do)...

It seems un unremarkable suggestion to make all sports open to allcomers. It's more about the Law of Unexpected Consequences. For sports where sheer strength does make a difference, the elite would be dominated by men. Women's teams would presumably vanish if men's teams did also. Or if they remained you would have elite teams and then women's teams. What would that say?

That's not really Kwesi's question though.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Honest Ron Bacardi:

It seems un unremarkable suggestion to make all sports open to allcomers.

Mmm - not quite, I think. Aside from the question of whether women are able to compete on equal terms with men in a particular sport or game, there are questions about physical contact in sports. Having all sports be mixed is going to discourage those with a more conservative view of personal modesty from participating.

We know, for example, that there are swimming baths that operate women-only recreational swimming times because they have a community of (mostly) conservative Muslim women who don't want to swim in mixed company.

I can point you at a number of acquaintances who are significantly less conservative than that, but wouldn't be comfortable with their children playing mixed-sex physical contact sports.

You may choose to believe that those people are wrong, and are a detriment to sexual equality, but they do exist.

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Gramps49
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Up until high school, my kids played on a unisex soccer team. All little league baseball teams are unisex in my area. Around age 14 the baseball players go into same-sex clubs. That said, I know of several high school girls who have tried out for football teams and made the team. There are a few girls who also wrestle. I know when the girls first got on the wrestling team a number of boys refused the match, but more and more, that hesitance has been reduced
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Kwesi
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Gramps49
quote:
Up until high school, my kids played on a unisex soccer team. All little league baseball teams are unisex in my area. Around age 14 the baseball players go into same-sex clubs. That said, I know of several high school girls who have tried out for football teams and made the team. There are a few girls who also wrestle. I know when the girls first got on the wrestling team a number of boys refused the match, but more and more, that hesitance has been reduced
All very interesting, mais ce n'est pas la guerre. Or are you pointing out it all stops at puberty? It's when females start turning out for Real Madrid and Barcelona that one might start to take the no difference argument seriously. Until then I'm inclined to the view that a vas deferens exists between males and females in sports demanding physical strength and exertion. [Biased]
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HCH
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An interesting challenge would be to devise interesting sports in which individuals of a variety of descriptions could compete evenly. I imagine this might be easier to do with solo sports (not "can you lift N pounds" but "can you lift K times your body weight") than with team sports.

Of course, people who play card games are busy laughing. Even more so, people who are not motivated by random competitions are laughing.

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Kwesi
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HCH
quote:
An interesting challenge would be to devise interesting sports in which individuals of a variety of descriptions could compete evenly. I imagine this might be easier to do with solo sports (not "can you lift N pounds" but "can you lift K times your body weight") than with team sports.

Of course, people who play card games are busy laughing. Even more so, people who are not motivated by random competitions are laughing.

The K times body weight calculation could already be applied to weight lifting: the victor ludorum across all the weights and both (?) sexes could be so identified, though some might protest that the top canine should be the one lifting the highest weight.

I'm greatly intrigued by the notion of card players laughing. My impression is that they treat their sport far too seriously for anything like that.

As for having a more than passing interest in what I think are referred to as risible 'random competitions" I can only plead guilty to obsessive fanaticism. It might be emphasised, however, that a few of them are of such economic, cultural and political importance that their governance is willy nilly a matter for the public sphere going back to those contests on Mount Olympus. We are, indeed, a Lilliputian species.

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Net Spinster
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In the Olympics the only mixed sports now are equestrian events and some sailing events.

Shooting is single sex now in the Olympics but at one time many of the shooting events were both. In 1992 a woman, Zhang Shan of China, won gold in the skeet competition and since then all Olympic shooting events have been single sex.

Chess has competitions for all and women only competitions.

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Golden Key
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Gramps--
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Up until high school, my kids played on a unisex soccer team. All little league baseball teams are unisex in my area. Around age 14 the baseball players go into same-sex clubs. That said, I know of several high school girls who have tried out for football teams and made the team. There are a few girls who also wrestle. I know when the girls first got on the wrestling team a number of boys refused the match, but more and more, that hesitance has been reduced

If I may ask, how were locker rooms managed? I would think separately, but then there couldn't be team meetings and pep talks in the locker room. Did they meet up elsewhere?

Not sure I think co-ed wrestling (IE, girls and boys wrestling each other) is a good idea.

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Gramps49
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Kwesi

Since puberty begins at around 8-13 for females and 9-14 for males the sexes do not divide into separate teams until 14, at least around here. In other words, the athletes around here compete with each other through puberty.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Kwesi

Since puberty begins at around 8-13 for females and 9-14 for males the sexes do not divide into separate teams until 14, at least around here. In other words, the athletes around here compete with each other through puberty.

Soccer teams here are unisex until 12 (most would be about to start high school at that age).

A Sydney suburb has adjoining private schools for boys and girls, both Anglican*. 20 or more years ago, the year 12 students decided that an inter-school rugby match would be a Good Thing. Once both heads had stopped laughing, the answer was a very firm no.

*Both have a fairly large boarding component and I'm told that policing the boundary ls very difficult.

[ 19. November 2017, 04:44: Message edited by: Gee D ]

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Kwesi
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Gramps49
quote:
Kwesi
Since puberty begins at around 8-13 for females and 9-14 for males the sexes do not divide into separate teams until 14, at least around here. In other words, the athletes around here compete with each other through puberty.

Gramps, I don't have any problem with this, and I don't want to get hung up on the details, though I think Golden Key makes some sensible observations about changing facilities which would lead to the separation of boys and girls. The only point I'm making is that there comes a point where, it seems to me, that the difference needs to be recognised to promote and sustain the participation of females in some sports. For those who think like me then there have to be ways of discriminating between males and females. That's all. Consequently, while at a younger age sex differences are less important where do you want to take this? If you are arguing it's only a matter of time when the same approach can be taken with older teenagers and adults then I would disagree.
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Horseman Bree
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We've just gone through an argument in the local hockey leagues here in New Brunswick. There are all-male leagues that are very fast and somewhat brutal physically, female leagues where an equivalent set of speed and contact occur, and "house" leagues (actually village or identifiable suburbs) in which the speed and contact are somewhat less. Players learn the basics in the house leagues and move "up" to the competitive leagues if they are sufficiently energetic and can handle the amount of contact*. Some play in the house leagues right through school, on the grounds that they want to play the game and to continue playing the game as a recreational thing as adults.

In my small village (1300), three girls played at their appropriate level in house league, otherwise all male, until they graduated school this year. The changing room issue was dealt with.

There was a proposal to force all girls into the female leagues, which was roundly defeated as being likely to force many girls out of playing at all. But you have to consider that the people who run the sports admin think in the terms of major competition, rather than in terms of sport as part of social interaction.

At the more-energetic, more-competitive level, it is generally admitted that the females play better hockey, since they are less obsessed with fighting and general mauling, although they are quite capable of serious physical contact!

*Hockey equipment is quite bulky and protective, since the speeds are high and the boards around the rink are quite solid, not to mention any checking!

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Horseman Bree
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Interestingly, one of the arguments against gender apartheid involved some of our recently-arrived Syrian refugee families. This particular family has 3 boys, who all tried hockey last year, playing at three different age levels (I was the "enabler" for this)

It was argued that this kind of forced gender apartheid was exactly one of the reasons that the family had left Syria, in that it demeaned and marginalised females in a way that we (theoretically!) do not do.

It is one thing to choose to play in an all-female group; it is quite another to say that a sport is not open to women except in an unacceptable form.

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It's Not That Simple

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Angel Wrestler
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This is an interesting discussion. Thanks!

There are *some* sports where trans folks are not likely to succeed at an elite level: a trans female, for example, likely, would not be able to compete in women's gymnastics; the type of athleticism needed for the elite level would make it difficult for a genetic male to perform. And vice-versa. A trans female is still likely to be taller and less flexible than a biological female and a trans male is not likely to hold an inverse t-hold on the rings as well as a biological male.

However, there are a number of sports that are not so biologically-specific, many of which have been mentioned. Running, shooting, swimming, etc. are all about who is fastest or is most accurate.

I *want* for trans folks to live as they believe they should. However, in competitions like running, swimming, or boxing, the biological male competing against a biological female is unfair.

Maybe we can wish for a day when we just all accepted differences and athletes could compete according to their biology rather than their gender identification. I expect that it wou ld be a long time coming, but it is possible.

And that gives rise to how intersex athletes might compete.

Lord, hasten the day when we can accept and include all, whoever they are.

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Leorning Cniht
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Given that card players were mentioned upthread, I'll mention that bridge mostly comes in Open and Women's events. Very few women can compete with the elite men - were you to list the top 100 bridge players worldwide, there might be as many as five women. Chess, as I understand it, looks quite similar.

Women, on average, play differently than men: in duplicate bridge, you are competing against other pairs who held the same cards that you hold - so the challenge is to get a better score than the other people. The women's game is significantly less aggressive, and so the tactics that you should adopt are different. Aggressive marginal actions that are necessary in the men's game are a losing choice against women.

It's also the case that there has been historically, and still is, a fair amount of sexism in the game, and that undoubtedly affects everything.

So it's a fact that men dominate competitive bridge, and without a women's competition, few women would have the opportunity to compete. There's to my knowledge no evidence that there's a biological difference: all of the effect could be social. Which suggests that if we achieve a truly equal society, then perhaps the difference will go away.

But until then, women's competitions seem to offer value.

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Lyda*Rose

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
If someone of a female gender wishes to compete with people of a male gender in sports I believe it should be their choice, and their choice alone. It is patronizing to suggest women cannot compete at the same level as men.

The "problems" occur in the other direction, precisely because women cannot compete with men in strength / speed sports.

I see no reason at all why women and men shouldn't be equally competitive at snooker, but Flo-Jo, who still holds the women's 100m world record, wouldn't rank at a decent men's high school meet. This is (one reason) why we have separate women's competitions - because women are smaller and weaker than men. Biology and Physiology are real things.

And so the "problem" is that some B-list high school male runner would wipe the floor with a field of elite women. So it would be a nonsense to allow him to compete in a women's competition.

The controversy attached to trans women, Caster Semenya, and so on is whether their particular biology makes them "more like men". It doesn't matter for the men's competition, but the women's competition is explicitly a competition for people who are biologically weaker / slower, rather than a competition for people who wear dresses.

Anyone remember Renee Richards? She did pretty well as an older woman in the tournaments she played in after suing to be allowed to play. But evidently later she decided that if she had transitioned in her twenties, her physique as a previous male would have given her too big an advantage in competition on the women's circuit.

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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