You were born a biological male. You have XY chromosomes that irrevocably designate your sex as male. You began to identify as either non-binary or female around two years ago. You are currently a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swim team where you recently were victorious against Cornell University women’s team. As a transwoman with the physical advantages of still being a biological male, you have broken several of the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swim records. In your 1,650-meter freestyle win, you beat second-place finisher and teammate Anna Kalandadze by 38 seconds.
Because of you, women such as Kalandadze who held records no longer hold them. You, as a biological male, have unfairly stripped them of their hard-fought honors. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), it is permissible for biological men to compete in women’s sports. A man simply has to announce that he is a woman and take testosterone suppressors for a year.
Here are some facts, Lia. One of the advantages you still carry—regardless of your testosterone levels—is that as a person who was born male you have certain innate physical advantages over women. You are stronger. You are faster. You have larger lungs, a larger heart, and larger skeletal size. You enjoy greater circulation, and you possess less fat than biological women.
I cannot understand the deeply misogynistic attitude evinced by the NCAA, nor can I fathom the way our nation, for the most part, stands by and watches while mass psychosis subsumes reality.
As a professionally trained ethicist who is also a cisgendered gay man, I respect your individual right to self-identify and to cull a conception of the good life for yourself around your gender identity. You have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should ever violate your bodily identity. Your decision to view yourself as a woman should never permit others to eviscerate you of your individual rights as a human being. But I also advocate the individual rights of women.
Your freedom to cull such a life stops when you foist that identity as an unassailable truth onto others and force them to adopt it as a normative mandate. You and the cowardly NCAA are guilty of wholesale cheating on a massive scale. Biological men competing with women is a form of massive cheating. There are rules that create different sporting categories for men and women based on objective criteria found in nature and reality. You swam on a men’s team, and you competed with men. You know very well what those differences are.
My sense is that even though you came out as transgendered, that disclosure gave you no right to decide, as a biological man, to compete with real biological women. You are not a biological woman, and you will never be one. That is an objective reality. There is one first, irreducible, and fundamental criterion for determining membership on college athletic teams: It is biological sex—not gender identity.
To ignore this is to act as if your wishes, pleas, fantasies, will, and desires can supersede and replace reality. When institutions in the sporting world and in higher education act as mindless supplicants to magical and wishful thinking, what we have are tragic consequences: manufactured psychosis and a maddeningly socially constructed reality in which facts are treated as if they were opinions.
You use your very masculine body to subvert the Law of Identity, or the law of noncontradiction, which states that a thing is what it is and can be nothing else. Water cannot freeze and boil at the same time; and a stone cannot be a stone and a feather. A biological male cannot be a male and a woman at the same time. Rhetorical plinth and semantic pretzel-maneuverings cannot alter reality.
You are an institutional cheater—and, a fortiori, a liar—not just because you evade reality, but because you willfully choose to evade reality. You have robbed and will continue to rob many desperate and financially strapped young women of their athletic scholarships. These are women you bludgeon in the pool with your male strength and privilege while you refer to yourself as “she” or female. These young women do not stand any chance against you. This is because you are performing fundamentally as a male athlete against female athletes.
The same people who prate against patriarchy and male privilege have created an amoral infrastructure for you to cheat your way through swim meets—while the world looks on with incredulity, but in abject silence.
There are exceptions. Cynthia Millen, a USA Swimming official who officiated meets for over three decades, heroically resigned late last month in protest of your membership on the women’s swim team. She has stated that she cannot stand by and watch as “girls are thrown under the bus” by biological male competitors. Admitting that men are faster and different from women, she accused you of destroying women’s swimming.
Our age is morally bankrupt. It is marred by ethical relativism which holds that each culture is the sovereign author of its own ethical precepts, rules, and principles; there does not exist any universal criteria that can adjudicate among competing truth claims within and outside of culture; truth-claims are language games created by the powerful with a built-in grammar of oppression that seeks to entangle and silence the oppressed in their acts of resistance; subjective personal opinions are qualitatively equal to well-thought-out rational explanations backed by reason, logic and empirical evidence; and that reason and logic are white, racist, European constructs.
You use your very masculine body and your agency to ratify the canards of this philosophy. Your voluntary membership on the female swim team is proof that despite knowing the truth, you engage in a lie, and that lie allows you to cheat with impunity.
My sense is that on a men’s team you would not be anything special. You’d be average and ordinary—certainly not the athletic star you are today. You are a star because you coveted fame and glory at the shameful expense of women who are physically weaker and less advantaged than you are. The whole world knows this. Yet the silent majority says nothing.
It says nothing because it has been in the thralls of “gender eugenics,” of which you are both a creator and a participant.
Gender eugenics is the ideology that seeks to resocialize the moral sensibilities of Americans toward a view of understanding gender and biological sex as social constructs. Gender and biological sex, according to this ideology, are to be viewed as phenomena artificially identified in a nefarious biological taxonomy replete with dubious criteria that attempt to designate sex. The taxonomy itself is biased and suffused with gendered interpretations. Americans, the ideology maintains, must learn to reorient themselves to understanding that both gender and biological sex are “strategic fictions” created by a white, hetero-normative patriarchal culture. They must see gender and sex identity as naturally existing on a continuum. The attempts by parents to force their children to identity with one of the two binary sex categories of male/female are seen as a form of child abuse because binary identification is regarded as unnatural.
Gender eugenics mainstreams institutional cheating and lying because it convinces persons that biological sex is malleable and mutable when it most emphatically is not. To date, no scientist has found a way to alter, modify, or change a person’s sex—that is, to change the chromosomal markers that determine biological sex. Against the backdrop of a culture that increasingly treats facts as mere opinions, a culture in which people lose their jobs for stating the demonstrable fact that men cannot give birth to children (trans men who give birth are still biological women with their reproductive apparatuses intact), gender eugenics tries to invalidate our knowledge of the truth.
Lia, in achieving the eugenical moment, you upset the moral grammar that governs not just thought, but our very method of cognition. Every time you compete with women you normalize a patina of psychotic thought permeating our society: that biological men can be thought of as becoming and being as real as biological women.
The eugenical moment is achieved when you and others act as if desires and wishful thinking can trump reality by a simple process: the inversion of reality. In other words, by your behavior you demonstrate that you believe that the purpose of consciousness is not to perceive reality correctly and act accordingly based on facts. Rather, the purpose of consciousness is to create reality—to make it up based on the primacy of your will, desires, intentions, and emotional cravings. So many people have capitulated to the psychosis you advance because they are weak and cannot bear to face reality. If you can make your own reality and live comfortably in it, then they will grant you your desires and let you get away with a deceptive facsimile of the reality you advance as real.
At some point in their lives, however, their radical subjective recreation of reality will require endorsement and ratification. Since everyone will believe that no one else’s perceptive skills, judgments, and truthful conclusions are better than anyone else’s, by what right will anyone challenge or question their fabricated reality that they can have ratified by institutions and codified into laws?
The gender eugenics movement allows people to operate on the lowest cognitive level because society does not hold them accountable for the distortions, or the metaphysical perversions that arise from acting as if laws of nature can be twisted like a piece of putty to fit anyone’s private evasions or construct a subjective reality that behaves with the same invariability as do the laws of nature.
Do you see the civilizational harm you cause? In the competitions, while you perform as a liar and a cheat, you behave like a bully. You pick on women weaker and less advantaged than you by virtue of their sex. That’s what bullies do. In predatory fashion, they single out a person or group that is constitutionally disadvantaged. Bullies never pick on their equals.
You have every right to classify yourself as you wish. There should be no arbitrary obstructions placed by the state to interfere with your efforts. But trans rights are not human rights if we mean by “trans rights” the right of biological men to compete in sporting events with biological women. Trans rights are not human rights if we believe every trans person is entitled to government funds that allow them to modify, remove, or create new genitalia in what is known as the “transformation process.”
The state has no right making such a process illegal; but such persons cannot force the state or others to change a scientific assignation based on an artificial surgical procedure and the hormonal treatments preceding and following it. Endless testosterone-suppressing treatments cannot alter your biological make-up, they will just make you have low testosterone levels.
In the name of decency, and in the name of a return to morality, you should resign from the Pennsylvania University women’s swim team. You do not belong there, and you know it. End your cheating presence among these women and give them a chance to have their aspirational identities realized. Moral courage demands that you apologize to the women you unfairly clobber by exercising your male privilege when you entangle them in the pool as a competitor.
Life is a series of possibilities and disclosures. It also consists in foreclosures and limitations. Maturity consists in knowing when to stay in our lane, and when to leap from it and eat the sky like an apple.
I am sure the world you desire for yourself can be won. But do not achieve it by cheating others of a chance of achieving their world fairly. Be who you think you are. But do not impose your interpretation of yourself on others by force. And do not expect the silent majority to watch as you and the colluding phalanx of individuals who support you think that by sleight of hand forged in semantic chicanery you can cheat, fake, and evade reality. You may do so. But you cannot long avoid facing the consequences of faking reality. Reality will eventually catch up with who you really are.