Breaking the silence: Female athletes speak about safe and fair sport in Canada | Macdonald-Laurier Institute

The Sport Canada report, Canadian High-Performance Female Athletes’ Voices: Transgender Inclusion in Elite and Olympic Sport Guidelines, is a survey undertaken in 2022 by British researcher Cathy Devine and Canadian professor Leslie Howe (Devine and Howe 2022). It is the first attempt ever undertaken in Canada to consult the women who must live every day with the consequences of the new policies that rank transgender inclusion in Canadian sport as more important than safety, fairness, or equality of the sexes.

This whole controversy arises because of a decision – namely, that athletes whose subjective “gender identity” conflicts with the biological reality of their bodies’ sex must be “included” – that means, and can only mean, one thing: that subjective gender identity must trump objective biological sex and therefore participation in male and female sport categories should be determined solely by an athlete’s gender identity.

Given that male bodies enjoy an overwhelming physical advantage over female bodies in sport (Pike, Hilton, and Howe 2021, 13-14), such a concept of “inclusion” inevitably gives rise to two obvious thoughts:

  1. This kind of inclusivity is asymmetrical: a woman self-identifying into the men’s category would not have the same kind of success that a man moving in the opposite direction would enjoy.
  2. The group that will be most harmed should have a say in any policy that alters the dynamics of their participation.

Yet the authorities in Canadian sport who rushed to compel national sports organizations (NSOs) to adopt a policy that threatens to completely undermine the female sports category have been clear that they cannot or will not engage with anyone criticizing their policies with these logical deductions.

To summarize, these CCES-inspired policies being enacted by Canadian NSOs not only fail to meet international standards of fairness and safety, they also signal the following set of possibilities:

  • Men could participate in women’s competitions, winning team positions and prizes.
  • Men could be in women’s locker rooms.
  • Men could be in women’s hotel rooms, where team members are expected to bunk together while on the road.

Female athletes might be forgiven for viewing this surreal set of facts as a creeping (and creepy) destruction of their sport.

Concurrently, the Canadian parliament passed Bill C-16 (Canada 2016) suggesting that if citizens – presumably including female athletes and other sports personnel – fail to properly acknowledge and accommodate the momentary self-declared identity of the male athlete it might even be a crime.

Perhaps it is time for the Parliament of Canada to take a page from the UK Equality Act and amend Bill C-16 to include appropriate sex-based exemptions (United Kingdom 2010) that will ensure women in Canada can enjoy the same fairness, safety, and privacy as their male counterparts, not only in sports but in all walks of life. Anything else would be unworthy of the just society we claim to value so highly.

Source: Breaking the silence: Female athletes speak about safe and fair sport in Canada | Macdonald-Laurier Institute

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