In a controversial decision, New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard will become the first ever transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. Laurel used to compete in men’s weight lifting before she came out as transgender in 2013. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed its rules allowing transgender athletes to compete as a woman if their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold.
This decision has faced a lot of backlash. The very purpose of women’s sports is to give women an opportunity to compete with other women, who do not possess biological advantages that men have. In fact, Laurel is taking the place of a woman lifter who has worked her entire life to compete in the Olympics and surpass all the other women in her country to earn that opportunity. Laurel wasn’t just an average weight lifter, she set New Zealand’s junior records competing as a male. Now women are expected to compete against a record holding weightlifter, assigned as male at birth, for an opportunity to represent their country.
This decision can set some dangerous and inconsistent precedents in rules for competing in the Olympics. Critics of the decision argue that although her testosterone levels post therapy do allow her to qualify, Laurel has an unfair advantage due to the fact that she went through puberty as a male, from which she has denser bones amongst other advantages. This same concern was raised when Fallon Fox, a transgender MMA fighter, who was born male, was fighting and beating women fighters. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan mentioned how although she had gone through gender reassignment, the surgery doesn’t change aspects of anatomy such as bone density, the size of wrists, hands, and joints, which give major advantages in competition. After her fight with Fallon Fox, Tamikka Brents suffered a concussion, and orbital bone fracture, and seven staples to the head in the first round. Brents later shared that: “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right… Her grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch …” For many people, this victory was not celebrated and highlighted some dangers of allowing people who grew up as men compete against women.
Some may argue that Fox’s situation is distinguished from Laurel’s in that Fox was taking part in a combat sport while Laurel is only weight lifting. The fact is that the Olympics include a variety of contact and combat sports including boxing, Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do. If the IOC follows this precedent, they are creating risks for woman athletes and defeating the purpose of women’s sports: creating a safe space for women to compete with other women. In non-combat sports this precedent can also create an unfair advantage. For example, if a 7’4 athlete who wasn’t quite good enough to compete in men’s Olympic basketball undergoes therapy to reduce his testosterone levels, he still has a major advantage in height that no woman basketball player has ever reached. Only one women’s basketball player ever was taller than 6’9. This hypothetical situation undeniably proves there are physical advantages to going through puberty as a male. The same concept applies to a person who went through puberty as a male, having more suitable hands, wrists, and joints for weight lifting.
Another potential issue that rises with the IOC’s decision is the precedent set with regulating testosterone levels. Many athletes have been stripped of medals for taking substances like testosterone to enhance their performance artificially. If a born male is allowed to take measures to lower testosterone levels, are born females who classify as men allowed to take measures to increase testosterone levels? Testosterone is a chemical which can increase muscle growth and strength which men naturally produce more than women. If the born female who classifies as a man is allowed to take testosterone to compete with men, do they have an unfair advantage? Are they limited to a specific amount which will at best, keep them competitive? If the IOC only allows athletes to lower their testosterone levels, is it fair to transgender people who were born female and classify as male to not be able to undergo a testosterone therapy which allows them to compete as their ‘new gender’? They will not be able to compete against men without the additional testosterone.
The IOC should have considered these issues and the greater purpose of women sports. Women work their whole lives to get to perfect their craft and potentially honor their countries by winning a medal. By allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports after testosterone therapy, the IOC has set a dangerous precedent that will undoubtedly compromise opportunities for women athletes in the future. The IOC should consider alternatives to include all athletes but inclusion should not compromise the sanctity of women’s sports.
More than 90 Women Sue the FBI for $1Billion For Mishandling the Nassar Case
- More than 90 women and girls, including Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who were sexually assaulted by the disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar plan to sue the FBI for $1 billion for mishandling the credible sexual assault complaints.
- The FBI agency’s own watchdog found that the FBI disregarded allegations about Nassar, and in a long-awaited report from the US Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, it was stated that various missteps and cover-ups by FBI agents allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue for more than a year after the case was opened in 2015.
- The FBI field office took very limited action against Nassar and did not document any investigation or alert other authorities. Also, just two weeks ago, the US Justice Department decided not to prosecute the two FBI agents accused of mishandling the Nassar case.
- The plaintiffs’ claim is being filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people who have been harmed by negligent actions of the federal government to seek recompense for damages. The plaintiffs are all seeking different amounts for damages, but the total claims amount is expected to surpass $1billion.
Liverpool Fans Tear Gassed by French Police Before Final Match: UK Calls for an Investigation
- French police are criticized for firing tear gas and pepper spray at Liverpool fans waiting to get into the stadium in Paris.
- The French sports ministry has called a meeting with Uefa (the French Football Association), stadium officials, and police to “draw lessons” from the event.
- French interior minister Gérald Darmanin appeared to blame British supporters, tweeting on Saturday that thousands were without valid tickets and had forced entry while also claiming that some fans had assaulted stewards.
- However, Merseyside Police said its officers who were stationed in Paris and attended the match “reported the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queuing as directed.”
- Liverpool FC also called for an investigation into the event and said they would be asking fans to contact them directly with their experiences.
The untold stories of Qatar and the FIFA World Cup
While many acknowledge deep problems within the host country, one expert says the overly negative attention on Qatar overshadows much of the positive change the games are creating.
“Having the world cup in Quatar (sic) just makes me sick and not interested,” said one Twitter user, decrying the alleged abuses against workers who built the stadiums for the World Cup. “Those guys could never afford a ticket to these games, even though they loved the game and worked hard.”
“Give me a free final ticket if Germany played in it, I still won‘t go there. Never,” said another.
Qatar is hosting the World Cup in November, the very first Middle Eastern country to do so. Since Qatar was awarded hosting rights for the sporting event, there have been controversies over the way the country was chosen (including allegations of bribing FIFA) as well as scrutiny of the country’s human rights record (over the country’s alleged treatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ rights).
But while many acknowledge deep problems within the country, some say the overly negative attention on Qatar overshadows much of the positive change the games are creating.
“There’s politics with FIFA and World Cup organizers of Qatar,” said Luv Randhawa, an international singer based in British Columbia, who still hopes to attend his first World Cup this year. “For us as fans, we want to see the best sport.”
He has conflicting feelings about the “beautiful” stadiums built by migrant workers.
“I look at it in two aspects: I pledge the pride of the people of Qatar for what they’ve done, but I’m also somber about the people who have lost their lives and livelihood because of the building of these buildings that the world is coming to see.”
Umer Hussain, who has a PhD in sports marketing, says while the controversies around Qatar are concerning, they’ve detracted from the positive aspects of the first World Cup since the pandemic.
“One of the goals of FIFA was to grow its own fan base, so that’s why when the FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar, it made me very excited,” said the postdoctoral researcher at Texas A&M University.
He noted this World Cup generated around five million jobs. Qatar also changed some of its laws to support the rights of migrant workers and to prevent wage theft. Muslim women are also being encouraged more to play sports as a result of the Cup, Hussain said.
But he added the media has only been focusing on the negative aspects of the host country.
As far as allegations of corruption go, Hussain points to the Global Transparency Index, whose Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021 ranked Qatar as less corrupt than the three previous FIFA hosts: Russia, Brazil and South Africa. (Russia also faced controversy over alleged bribery and human rights violations.)
Hussain says the negative portrayal of Qatar as a corrupt country reflects historical stereotyping of Arab countries as inhumane.
“People think … Qatar wanted to take soft power in the Arab world, that’s why they’re holding this World Cup,” Hussain said, noting Qatar has however lost more than it’s gained from this Cup.
“There has been a lot of damage already done.”
￼Double Olympic Champion: Losing to Trans Women is About Biology – ‘I Feel Let Down’
Katie Archibald, the double Olympic champion has criticised the International Olympic Committee and other sports bodies for their transgender policies saying they have not only let down female cyclists by underplaying biology but also left trans women like Emily Bridges to face intense scrutiny.
“It is my opinion that the international governing bodies of several sports have let down transgender athletes, in particular transgender women, with their inclusion policies,” Archibald said in a statement.
According to Archibald, it was wrong for governing bodies to ignore the science that shows trans women who have gone through male puberty have a retained advantage in strength, stamina and physique. She made it clear that she and other females were also being let down by the unwillingness of sports to accept the importance of biology.
Sadly, this is just an extension of the policies we have chosen to enact in our society without any regard to their consequences. Following the law for some such as trans results in rights being taken from others such as female athletes in sports.
“These policies have put the athletes, their involvement in sport, and their personal lives under intense scrutiny when all the athletes have done is follow the rules and enter a category they were encouraged to enter.”
“I feel let down by the International Olympic Committee who tell me there should be no assumed advantage for an athlete with a gender identity different to their sex,” she said.
“I read this and hear that my world titles, my Olympic medals, and the champions jerseys I have at home, were all won in a category of people who simply don’t try as hard as the men. That losing to male androgenisation is not about biology, but mindset. They are wrong.
It’s ironic that women had to live under the tyranny of men for so long but now in a so-called liberal society, we are allowing men to become women and oppress women as women. Katie has shown incredible courage to point out something so obvious that our society continues to ignore with no real questions or fair solutions on offer!
She continued: “The retained advantage of people who have gone through male puberty in strength, stamina, and physique, with or without testosterone suppression, has been well documented.
“Cycling’s global governing body, by its president’s own admission, knows this. But they chose to delay action until it became sadly personal for one rider. That wasn’t fair.”
She also expressed deep sympathy for Bridges, who broke the junior men’s 25-mile record before transitioning in 2020, saying she was only following the rules of cycling’s governing body, the UCI, before it decided to block her racing as a woman last month.
In her statement Archibald also called on governing bodies of sports such as cycling, triathlon and rowing to come together to develop policies based on science, while also making their sport more welcoming for trans athletes. “But I’d like us to do all this without sacrificing one of the foundational pillars of sport: fairness.”
This is a key point, but it is not just limited to sport, in all aspects of society fairness should be a key consideration before making policies that allow individuals to act in a way that is legal but harmful to other individuals. We choose to ignore this principle at our own peril and decisions made in the past are slowly starting to unravel before us.
When little 8-year-old boys start to transition and when a male swimmer who ranked 554th in men’s competition, becomes one of the top ranked swimmers in women’s competition, it tells us that this question of fairness should have been asked a long time ago! Not just from IOC but from governments and societies at large!
Utah Governor Vetoes Bill Targeting Transgender Athletes
On Tuesday, a republican-backed bill was vetoed by the state governor of Utah that barred transgenders from competing with girls in sports in schools.
Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement that while “politically, it would be much easier and better for me to simply sign the bill,” he chose to veto it because he “tried to do what I feel is the right thing regardless of the consequences.”
Mr Cox was the second governor in vetoing the bill as on Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill, saying it would likely have been challenged in court and would not have solved any pressing issue.
The two governors’ actions of vetoing the bill are at odds with steps taken in a number of other Republican-led states where transgender rights have become an imminent issue in a broader U.S. culture war over sexuality and gender identity. Whereas governors in states including Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Iowa have signed into law bills that ban trans girls from competing in girls’ sports.
In a series of tweets Cox made an emotional plea for compassion toward transgender youth Tuesday in explaining his decision to veto the bill. He said “No other state has done this, and we hoped that Utah could be the first. Unfortunately, that compromise fell apart in the 11th hour of the session.” Regarding transgenders he also tweeted “I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.”
Also in a letter to the state’s Senate president and House speaker, the governor said he was moved by the data that shows that among 75,000 kids playing high school sports in Utah, only four were transgender, with just one involved in girls sports.
“Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day,” he wrote. “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”
However Republican legislators plan to override the veto on Friday, as State Senator J. Stuart Adams, a Republican, mentioned in a statement.
Sanctions Against Russia Leave Chelsea Football Club Up for Grabs
- Former Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, was pushed to sell the Club amidst the hard sanctions against Russia.
- Turkish businessman, Muhsin Bayrak, is set to bid 1 billion pounds for the football club, half of the 2.2 billion pounds he intended to offer Abramovich.
- The British government will issue a license for the sale, despite not being directly involved in the sale process should they agree with the conditions.
Former Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, was pushed to sell the Club amidst the hard sanctions against Russia. Leaving room for potential buyers to submit bids in hopes of taking the Club at a fraction of the cost now that it was transferred to the government. The British government has set Friday as the deadline for any bids.
Turkish businessman, Muhsin Bayrak, is set to bid 1 billion pounds for the football club, half of the 2.2 billion pounds he intended to offer Abramovich. Strict sanctions connected to Russia’s occupation in Ukraine have hit multiple Russian oligarchs. This has caused an opening in the world market where many top Russian business owners held assets.
Bayrak also intended on offering Abramovich $400 million of his company’s cryptocurrency and the transfer of certain real estate projects to the Russian billionaire. The Turkish investor is set to meet with Abramovich later this week in Turkey to receive his blessing for any deal. The British government will issue a license for the sale, despite not being directly involved in the sale process should they agree with the conditions.
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