Caitlyn Jenner – gold medallist in the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics – is now in the running to the be the next governor of California.
These days, Jenner is more famous for marrying into the Kardashians before a very public transition in 2015. ‘Call me Caitlyn,’ screamed the headlines at the time.
Like me, Jenner seems to be someone for whom gender transition was no impediment in life. Perhaps we both have our feet on the ground when it comes to the reality of biological sex?
On Saturday, Jenner was accosted by a journalist in a car park. There were questions to be answered. Not about jobs, health, education or public services, not even about climate change that seems to be hitting California with wild fires every summer, but about an issue that has mushroomed out of all proportion.
‘There is legislation in various states to ban biological boys, who are trans, from playing girls’ sports in school. What is your opinion on that?’
Some of our own politicians here in the UK might want to take note of Jenner’s answer.
‘This is a question of fairness. That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports is school. It just isn’t fair, and we have to protect girls’ sports.’Caitlyn Jenner
In three sentences, Jenner cut through the nonsense that has infected politics both here and in the US. Too many politicians are in thrall to gender ideology and they have been captured by the groundless assertion that biological sex matters less than gender identity when we need to segregate society.
Jenner is right. Allowing transgirls – who are biological boys – to compete with girls is unfair. Human beings are not disembodied souls residing in perambulating devices; we are our bodies and those bodies have a sex. We might not like our sex and some of us – Jenner and me included – might have changed our bodies to resemble the other sex. But neither hormone therapy nor gender surgery can unravel the advantage we were given before we were born when the SRY gene on our Y chromosome virilised our bodies.
Males are stronger, faster and more powerful than females. Everybody knows that. If that were not so we would not have had to segregate sport in the first place. We could all compete together in open competition.
The gender ideologues have succeeded in obfuscating one of the most basic facts of human biology: like all other mammals we are sexually dimorphic and we cannot change our sex. They have used rhetoric – ‘trans women are women’, for example – and emotional appeals to press home their claims.
Our politicians have been trapped like rabbits in the headlights, fearful of saying what they surely know to be true because it may upset the mob. Tinpot activists have run amok while senior politicians have been made to look ridiculous. Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson squirmed as she was unable to define the word woman (spoiler: adult human female) while, from the Labour front bench, Dawn Butler once fumbled out the ridiculous answer that ‘babies are born without a sex.’
Politicians need to realise that there are differences of opinion within the trans community itself. Not all of us have bought into this nonsense and we are not impressed by those who pander to it.
Jenner’s response to the interview was uncompromising:
The outrage was predictable but much of it came from people who were not themselves trans. Stonewall UK’s couldn’t even name Jenner – perhaps their prime directive is never to criticise any trans person whatever we say? – but their response was crystal clear, ‘Trans kids belong in sports. Trans kids belong in schools. Trans kids belong in our families.’
But sadly along with others they once again missed the point. Nobody – not Jenner, not me, not anyone else – is saying that transgender-identified children do not belong in sports. Sport is for all, surely. What we are saying is that where sport is segregated, children should compete with their own sex, however they might choose to ‘identify’.
Jenner’s interrogator in the car park presumably thought differently. Their supplementary question was textbook, ‘If someone transitions and now identifies as a girl, isn’t it delegitimising their identity to prevent them?’
Jenner’s response was exemplary, ‘Have a good day.’
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 3 May 2021: Caitlyn Jenner is right about transgender athletes and women’s sports.