The ideology of gender fluidity, in which the binary reality of male and female is not fixed, may secure its greatest victory thus far by the release of Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse People in Sport by the Australian Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) and Sport Australia. COMPPS comprises the Australian Football League, Cricket Australia, Football Federation Australia, National Rugby League, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia and Tennis Australia, in which it declares more than “9 million people participate … through 16,000 clubs”. The victory will lie in the imposition of the ideology and some of the practices of gender fluidity on almost a third of the Australian population.
Euphemistically, in its letter of endorsement, COMPPS proclaims the Guidelines “provide a significant opportunity for all of those involved in Australian sports … from grassroots participants and clubs to governing bodies … to reflect on how they can facilitate diversity and inclusion”. But, from the very introduction to the Guidelines, it is clear the “opportunity for reflection” really means “time to prepare for obedience” to the dictates of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act which, though intended in 1984 to protect biological females, was amended in 2013 to include the gender-diverse. In sport, the amendments will discriminate against the sex they were meant to protect.
This essay appeared in a recent Quadrant.
Subscribers had no need to wait for the paywall to come down
The so-called Safe Schools Programs proclaimed the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools under the camouflage of anti-bullying. Under the banner of anti-discrimination, its beliefs and doctrines will be imposed by legal force on all the mums and dads, and their children, and all the teachers, officials, volunteers and workers responsible for the running of sporting competitions across the nation. By including natal males transgendered to females they will remove protection of the “safe space” of female sport through participation of people whose nature-endowed strengths will belie any psychological claim for parity—even in children. By including natal males in dressing rooms of their choice, they will threaten the “safe space” of female privacy.
As we know it, women’s sport is a recent phenomenon. It was only in 1900 that a few women participated in the Olympic Games. In the 1928 Games, their number had increased to 2.2 per cent of participants and, by 2016, to 45 per cent. This emancipation from male-dominated culture has been rightly welcomed and it is hard to comprehend that society could, one way or another, submit to the return of male domination, if not by boys and men in trousers, by natal males in leotards.
The Guidelines are addressed to everyone involved in sport: “from management committees, to coaches, staff and volunteers, umpires and officials … and to members of the public, including parents and care givers of players”. Pointedly, the Guidelines are directed to anyone “interested in the [new] legal obligations of sporting organisations”.
The Guidelines define “gender related identity” as including the “appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not) with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth”. They explain gender diversity is an “umbrella term that includes all the different ways gender can be experienced and perceived … including trans/transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, gender non-conforming and many more”.
The Guidelines declare “it is against the law” to discriminate against such people in regard to membership, on-field participation and off-field facilities, and to ask for personal information that might lead to discrimination. However, the details of what might actually comprise discrimination are not clear and clubs are warned: “The Guidelines do not provide a definitive legal answer to all of the issues of discrimination … [and] an organisation or individual will not be protected from a finding of unlawful discrimination if they claim that they complied with, or relied on, these Guidelines”. Implementation of the Guidelines will merely “minimise the likelihood of a successful discrimination claim being made”.
The Guidelines, however, do make it clear that both an individual or an organisation which has been found to discriminate, and a person who aids and permits that discrimination, can be held liable under the Act. They emphasise it is “important to note that a sporting organisation can be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees or agents” who are discriminating, or making “an unlawful request for information”.
To make things even more intimidating, under the Act the burden of proof is reversed, rendering the accused guilty until innocence is proven.
Guidelines for the new religion
The Guidelines are imposing a new worldview on society with a hell to shun (trans and other phobias, and the culture from which they spawn) and a heaven to be gained (a sexually fluid and free society). Clubs must demonstrate conversion (or at least submission) to this state-imposed ideology by nailing theses of commitment on the doors of public record. There, in prepared texts, known as public policies, they will proclaim their belief that “participation in sport should be based on a person’s affirmed gender identity and not on the sex they were assigned at birth, to the fullest extent possible” … Hand on heart, so help me, Alfred Kinsey. Warned that faith without works is dead, clubs must demonstrate belief by active “promotion of inclusion of transgender and diverse people”, and by the propagation of the doctrines through “active steps” of education of all the sheep in their folds. Pastoral workers will be appointed to “champion” the cause by encouraging seekers and supporting believers. Inquisitors, nicely known as “inclusion officers” will be appointed to ensure obedience to the received text, and to facilitate complaints of other people’s shortcomings, particularly those made by suffering children.
The sporting fellowship will share all things in common: from lockers, toilets and dressing rooms to “an appropriate range of uniform styles and sizes that cater to different body shapes”. Sporting habits? Sanitary napkins will be available in all change rooms.
Excluding a natal male from facilities could be a mortal sin for a club, with punishment officiated by the state and the media. Submission to the ideology, however, can be expected to ensure continuation of beneficence from that state and media. “Cargo cult” believers are certain to emerge. Legal crucifixion will be too horrible to contemplate.
Acts of creation can be expected from supplicant clubs. Gender-neutral teams will be generated from the mud of binary competition but, if that proves too distant, in the meantime the Guidelines advise teams could be created by allocation on bases of percentages: “40% women, 40% men and 20% non-specific”. To facilitate this development, “rules of a particular sport can be universally re-designed to accommodate non-binary players”. So, teams in what used to be rugby league could be comprised of 40 per cent sheep and 40 per cent goats with a 20 per cent contribution from goats thinking they are sheep, sheep thinking they are goats, some convinced they are both, others moving between, and some not sure who they are. If traditional rules render the game even more unruly, they can be creatively altered so everyone just has a bit of fun because no animal in the coming kingdom will take competition seriously, risking someone’s feelings.
A miracle within that miracle should not be overlooked. The prevalence of gender dysphoria in adults is reported by the Diagnostic and Scientific Manual of Mental Health (DSM) in 2013 to range from 0.005 per cent to 0.04 per cent in males, and from 0.002 per cent to 0.003 per cent in females. The Guidelines of 2019 suggest the numbers have increased to the point of filling an allocation of 20 per cent in sporting teams. The new religion has its own loaves and fishes.
To this nonsense, the Guidelines reassure us that the power of the devil, testosterone, in the veins of natal men transgendered to women is overestimated. The Guidelines dismisses its effect by declaring there is “limited research” on its impact “on the sporting performance of transwomen”. In any case, in the new religion, everyone’s minds will transcend the carnal.
Moreover, the Guidelines seek to allay fears of chaos in female sport by declaring there is “no evidence” of anyone “transitioning in order to gain a competitive advantage”. Human nature is already being transformed.
Mystery is inherent in most religions. Perhaps its greatest manifestation in the Guidelines will be in the interpretation of their permissible exemptions from accusations of discrimination on the grounds of gender identity in “any competitive sporting activity in which the strength, stamina or physique of competitors is relevant”. None of this wording has been defined in the Guidelines which refer, for precedent, to an equivalent exemption in the Victorian legislation and the declaration by the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal. That precedent suggests an exemption may “operate if, when both sexes competed against each other, the competition would be uneven because of the disparity between the relative strength, stamina and physique of male and female competitors”. The Guidelines state this “reasoning is likely to extend to people of different gender identities”. The declared aim is to ensure “a level playing field”.
That exemption, however, does not apply to “sporting activities by children who are younger than 12 years of age”. Those children will play in gender-neutral teams as if boys do not have natural capacities that will render the fields “uneven”.
The first obvious question is: “In which sport controlled by COMPPS are strength, stamina and physique not important?” In which of its sports would testosterone not provide an advantage? The second question is: “Don’t males still have an advantage under twelve years of age?”
There are volumes of literature on the impact of testosterone on the physical prowess of a male, providing “evidence [which] makes it highly likely that the sex difference in circulating testosterone of adults explains most, if not all, the sex differences in sporting performance”. From puberty, testosterone induces such development in metabolism, muscle, bone and oxygen-carrying haemoglobin that males are, on average, taller, stronger and faster, and possess more physical endurance than females. This effect of testosterone is predictable and dose-related and, one way or another, results in an 8 to 12 per cent ergonomic advantage in males, beginning with puberty, around eleven or twelve years of age.
Moreover, investigators report a dose-related effect of testosterone on the brain. Huang et al report “prominent mental motivational effects in the effort-dependent tests of muscle strength” after investigation of the hormone’s effects on post-menopausal women. Others confirm mental or psychological effects of testosterone, though the mechanism of its contribution to male sporting superiority is unknown.
The paucity of research on the relationship between testosterone and the sporting ability of males transgendering with oestrogen, testosterone-blocking drugs or castration, reflects the paucity of subjects, the relative newness of the phenomenon, changing techniques of hormonal measurement, and the prolonged period for the deprivation of testosterone to have final effect. Indeed, testosterone’s effect on bone structure and function (including leverage) which contribute to male sporting prowess may, of course, be permanent. To imply testosterone is over-rated on the basis of “limited studies” is dissembling.
Why push for gender-neutral teams for children?
In the foetus, from about six weeks of age, under the influence of a gene on the Y chromosome, testosterone is involved in the masculinisation of as yet indeterminate genitalia, and the induction of male-specific changes in the brain. In the pre-pubertal male, though its blood level is similar to that of females, under the influence of chromosomes and in synergism with other hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone takes part in linear growth, and muscle and organ development. The degree of testosterone’s continued contribution to masculine behaviour, through the male-specific cerebral features it has helped create, is unknown, but even DSM declares “rough and tumble play” to be a typical manifestation of childhood masculinity: one whose presence, according to the theory of gender fluidity, helps identify “boys born in the wrong body”.
Whatever the chromosomal and hormonal cause, on average, boys possess greater athletic prowess than girls, even in childhood. Studies vary and comparisons are difficult because girls enter puberty some two years before boys and, therefore, have an earlier growth spurt which conveys such sporting advantage as height and length of limbs. Nevertheless, specific features of physiology such as proportions of body fat and lean muscle, oxygen consumption and the volume of blood ejected by the heart in each beat, seem to contribute to established male prowess. During the female growth spurt, which may begin at nine years, female body fat increases to 25 per cent, compared with 12 to 14 per cent in males. Oxygen consumption is 12 per cent higher in boys at ten years, increasing to 25 per cent higher by twelve years and 35 per cent by sixteen. And the volume of blood emitted from the heart in each contraction is greater. These effects can be likened to a racing car: it will go faster and longer without luggage in the boot; its engine will extract more power from petrol; its carburettor will provide more petrol to each stroke of the engine, and Peter Brock will be behind the wheel.
Boys do better on the field. Why disadvantage girls with unfair competition?
Whatever the underlying physical and cerebral causes, in most tests of athletic prowess in childhood males do better. Examples are legion, and should be overwhelming.
For example, a study in Holland on 7977 children aged four to twelve found that, excepting four-year-olds, males had greater athletic skills.. One from Portugal on children with an average age of 10.8 years revealed male advantage in aerobic fitness, strength, speed and agility, though balance and flexibility were greater in girls. Gender differences were greater in the explosive strength of upper and lower limbs. Another from Portugal, on 3804 children from six to ten revealed greater physical fitness in boys. In Greece, research on 424,328 children aged six to twelve revealed boys typically scored higher than girls on cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and speed/agility, but lower on flexibility. Yet another from Europe on 10,302 children from six to 10.9 showed boys performed better than girls in speed, lower- and upper-limb strength and cardio-respiratory fitness, while girls had better balance and flexibility. In the US, in a study on 568 children with an average age of 9.5, boys outperformed girls in cardio-respiratory fitness and lower body power: “sex specific differences in physical fitness were apparent before pubescence”. And, just last year, another study from Europe, on 2,779 children and adolescents from nine to seventeen from thirty countries, found, on average, boys performed substantially better than girls “at each age group”.
Investigating why girls are more prone to ligamentous damage than boys, a gender difference was found in the ratio of the strengths of hamstring to quadriceps muscles in children from seven to twelve. Boys had greater hamstring strengths at all ages, while girls had higher quadriceps strengths at seven, nine, ten and twelve. Given a gender difference in the anatomy of the knee and its components, it was suggested that muscle strengths in the legs of girls did not guarantee stability and, therefore, they should begin preventive exercises at earlier ages. Anatomical differences between the pelvis and knees of girls and boys are significant.
An Australian study revealed girls at eight years of age had 18 per cent lower cardio-respiratory fitness and 44 per cent lower eye-hand co-ordination than boys. Another Australian study on 85,347 children aged from nine to seventeen found boys typically scored higher than girls on cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed and power tests but lower on flexibility.
An Australian author reviewed sex differences in athletic performance in children from ten to eighteen in Norway and Poland, and hand-grip strength in non-athletic children in US and Canada. In track-and-field, he reported a 3 per cent superiority in pre-pubertal males, which increased to 10.1 per cent with puberty. In jumping, the pre-pubertal superiority of 5.8 per cent increased to 19.4 per cent. In swimming, the superiority of pre-pubertal males was less than 2 per cent, but increased through puberty to around 6 per cent by age thirteen to fourteen, and to around 10 per cent by seventeen to eighteen. He reported “no narrowing in the gender gap in swimming … over more than three decades”. Hand-grip strength was marginally greater in pre-pubertal males, becoming significant after puberty, suggesting that gender divergences are a normal feature of puberty rather than one manifesting itself in elite athletes. The coincidence of the divergence with the pubertal rise in testosterone points to that hormone’s causative effect. Other authors concur with the fundamental effect of testosterone but emphasise the contribution of other hormones to muscle size and strength in a growing male.
What do sporting records reveal?
The results of the above surveys are substantiated by the sporting achievements of elite young Australian athletes. Analysis of 175 track, field and swimming records published by the New South Wales Department of Education reveal only six records of girls to have exceeded achievements by boys in age-specific events from eight to seventeen years. With regards to sex differences in times, lengths or heights of performances, at eight there was an average of 2 per cent superiority of males. At nine, it was 1 per cent; at ten, 2 per cent; at eleven, 4 per cent; at twelve, 4 per cent; at thirteen, 10 per cent; at fourteen, 11 per cent; at fifteen, 13 per cent; at sixteen, 13 per cent; at seventeen, 17 per cent.
Similarly, the State Records of Little Athletics New South Wales reveal, as of 2018, that from the under-seven to under-seventeen, boys have run faster, jumped higher and longer, and thrown things further than girls, except in only two events: the under-twelve 1500-metre walk in which, in 1994, a girl finished in 6.38.7 minutes compared to a boy in 2000 who took 6.45.2 minutes; and the under-seven 70-metre run, in which girls and boys shared the time of 11.04 seconds.
Boys aged four to twelve years are typically more active than girls, participating in nearly twice as much moderate and vigorous activity. Pooled data from Europe suggest girls from four to eighteen perform on average 17 per cent less total daily activity. Studies from Australia showed 19 per cent less activity in girls from eight to twelve. Reflecting the greater activity of boys, Nutrition Australia recommends increased portions of food of various categories to boys from toddlerhood onwards. Pursuing the racing-car analogy, more petrol is needed for the greater performance.
Given the “push” in Australia for gender-free sporting activities and the demonstration of greater levels of activity and prowess of boys in most sports at most ages, girls should be asked what they think about it. Literature is scarce but Lyu and Gill examined the perceptions of Korean girls of their own physical competence, their enjoyment and their effort in single-sex compared with mixed-sex physical education classes. They reported girls in same-sex classes had “notably higher scores” in all areas, pointing to other work which concluded girls were concerned about boys evaluating their performance and appearance, with one girl declaring she was “ashamed … I am not good at sports and I just don’t like anyone watching it”.
Complaints by biological females about being forced to compete with transgender females are increasing in the United States. For example, in June this year, three high school girls filed a complaint of discrimination to the Department of Education against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, asserting the inclusion of transgender athletes creates unfair advantage. According to their legal team, the conference has “allowed boys to compete without limitation in girls’ athletic competitions if they claim a female gender identity”. As a result, two seventeen-year-old transgendered female athletes “have dominated the field, setting meet records in 15 events that were previously held by 10 different Connecticut girls”. Thus the policy has created “an unfair playing field for female athletes” in which highly competitive girls “are systematically being deprived of a fair and equal opportunity to experience the thrill of victory”—and the possibility of sporting scholarships to colleges. The policy “reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women”. The girls claim the majority of female athletes feel as they do, but are too scared to protest publicly.
The complainants say the participation of transgenders in sport contradicts the intention of the 1972 amendments to the Higher Education Act which sought to prevent discrimination against women. In 2014, the Department of Education extended its brief to include transgender students and in 2016 that department and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement summarising the obligations of schools “to treat students in accordance with their expressed gender identity even if official documents indicate a different sex, to allow these students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their expressed identity, and to protect students’ privacy on these matters”.
Connecticut is not the only state to accept testimony of gender identity without evidence of hormonal or surgical intervention. According to the trans-promoting organisation, TransAthlete, eighteen other states accept expressions of gender identity as the sole authority for inclusion in high school events and facilities: fifteen states treat admission on a case-by-case basis, and nine states are derided as discriminatory for requiring evidence of hormone therapy or surgery, plus a waiting time for the effects of hormones to stabilise. The other states have no policy.
In February 2017, President Trump rescinded the federal obligation to permit entry to bathroom and locker facilities on the basis of expressed gender identity. Unsurprisingly, there was defiance. For example, the University of Hawaii declared it had no intention of retreating from the progress it had made in protecting the right of transgender people to enter locker rooms and bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
Problems for the clubs.
The activity of clubs will no longer be restricted to sport. They must now become organs for the promotion and practice of an imposed ideology. They must proclaim their new belief, educate their members in the belief, promote and invite participation in their belief, and practise their belief in the dressing rooms. Failure to comply will be punished.
Those formerly dedicated to teaching children how to run faster or kick balls further, and who organise rosters, barbecues and raffles to support the process, will now have to fathom the mysteries of undefined discrimination. For those used to painted boundaries, clear rules and static goalposts, dealing with litigious parents of gender-confused children could be a nightmare. Dealing with parents of girls who want “safe places” protected could be a headache.
It is naive, if not dissembling, of the Guidelines to suggest no transgendered person would be seeking “competitive advantage”. It is naive to think common temptations will not result in the pursuit of “sexual advantage” in the change rooms. Have the disciples of the new religion already attained sinless perfection? And, if an acolyte succumbs to temptation, who will be liable for not protecting the “safe space” of girls?
Who will be responsible for the construction of new gender-free changing rooms? And, if such rooms are merely added to the existing facilities, will that not single out its users, making discrimination more likely?
The Guidelines threaten chaos: the destruction of female “safe space”, and the imposition of organisational burdens and legal intimidation on clubs that do so much, for so little, for the health and quality of life of so many young Australians. The Guidelines will contribute, internationally, to the threat to the existence of female sport. And it should be realised that, internationally, women’s sport has more significance than chasing a ball around a field: it contributes to female empowerment with ramifications for freedom, education and health of women and children.
The question must be asked: Does the destruction of female sport matter to those imposing the ideology of gender fluidity? As that ideology would subordinate body to mind, is sport a dispensable tool for the imposition of a new idea?
All the above is not to say there are no young people who are confused over gender identity. That social contagion is afflicting an increasing number of young people and their families, who deserve our compassion and care. Such compassion can be enacted through family and individual psychological and psychiatric therapy with the intention of helping the child become more comfortable in the lot nature has bequeathed. The young person is not helped by the sporting society colluding with confusion. Moreover, such collusion fuels the epidemic.
Dr John Whitehall is Professor of Paediatrics at a Sydney university. He has written several articles for Quadrant on childhood gender dysphoria.
 Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport. Australian Human Rights Commission 2019
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