Editor’s note: This week’s Future View discusses the Biden administration’s move to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military and transgender high-school girls to compete on girls’ sports teams. For next week we’ll ask, “In light of the
stock-market mania, is the mass coordination facilitated by social-media platforms a blessing or a curse?” Students should click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before Feb. 9. The best responses will be published that night.
Nobody can seriously argue that biological males playing in girls’ sports is remotely fair, but the threat is bigger than that. Decisions like the Biden administration’s are part of a broader effort to make gender identity a protected category on par with race, worthy of intrusive federal intervention. The effect is to equate everyone who doesn’t believe a man can transform into a woman by wishing it with George Wallace and Bull Connor. If there was ever any hope that our new president’s rhetoric about unity meant something, these executive orders killed it.
—Torin Christensen, Southern Virginia University, psychology
Ideology Over Reality
Neither the security of our nation nor the ability of girls to compete fairly in sports should be subordinated to the woke demands of the more radical fringes of President Biden’s base.
Many transgender people are in suboptimal physical and mental condition for military service, especially those still undergoing gender reassignment surgeries. A 2016 report from the Rand Corp.’s National Defense Research Institute found that standards are often lowered for transgender military personnel undergoing medical transition, as this is “important in addressing the needs of transgender personnel.” Transgender troops also entail considerable costs to taxpayers. The military spent nearly $8 million on only 1,500 transgender service members in the three years following the Obama administration’s decision in 2016 to lift the ban, according to an analysis in USA Today.
As for high-school sports, allowing biological males to compete with girls will make a mockery of fair play and equal opportunity. The sexes possess vastly disparate physical capabilities. Sports leagues have tried to observe a healthy respect for these differences by separating competitors by biological sex.
—Sarah Weaver, Hillsdale College, political philosophy
Stick to the Science
The military ban on transgender individuals was never based in fact. President Trump justified it with the “tremendous medical costs” of gender-affirming medicine, but the Pentagon’s 2014 budget included 10 times as much money for Viagra and similar drugs, mostly for military retirees. The president’s other concern, with the “disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” was also contrary to the facts. Fifty-six retired generals and admirals responded that it was the ban that would “cause significant disruptions” and “deprive the military of mission-critical talent.”
Exclusionary athletic policies regarding transgender girls have also been driven by emotion, not evidence. Physical and sociological characteristics of non-transgender girls, such as height, access to coaching and pubertal age of onset, demonstrate the same purported advantages misattributed to transgender girls. A 2017 meta-analysis of prior research found that “there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals . . . have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition.”
Known benefits of sports for teenagers include higher self-esteem and better academic performance. As more than 30% of transgender girls have been bullied out of school or expelled, according to a 2015 study, it is crucial to provide equal access to these opportunities.
—Garrett Garborcauskas, Quinnipiac University, medicine (M.D.)
Trans Girls Are Girls
President Biden isn’t my hero simply because he restored my right, as a transgender person, to serve in the military. Despite the previous administration’s wrongful ban, trans people still served in the armed forces—just not openly. That said, I am glad the president restored my right to serve, even though I immediately delete recruitment emails.
As for the trans high-school girls, of course Mr. Biden is right to allow them to play sports on girls’ teams. Are you concerned about the trans boys playing on boys teams, too? If not, please examine yourself for bias. Trans girls deserve opportunities to bond with other girls. Please stop looking at trans girls as anything other than girls.
—Beck Liberatore, York College of Pennsylvania, professional writing
Two Separate Questions
Military service and sports competition for transgender people are different issues. I am glad transgender people are given the right to serve the country. But allowing transgender girls to compete on girls’ teams isn’t fair. We have to admit there are differences between male, female and transgender athletes’ physiology. This is the reason we separate genders in sports competitions, from the school-level up to the Olympics.
As a male triple-jump athlete in high school, I represented Singapore in an international track-and-field championship. The championship’s triple-jump record for boys under 15 was 14.73 meters, more than 3 meters further than its equivalent female triple-jump record (11.61 meters). Transgender girls, including those who have undergone hormone therapy, have the bone density, blood oxygen level and lung capacity of boys—putting biologically female athletes at a disadvantage.
—Oufan Hai, University of Rochester, computer science
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