After years of the reality-bending success of transgender activism, little green shoots of sanity are sprouting on the issue of biological gender in the West. The latest comes from the global governing body for track and field sports. World Athletics (WA) announced Thursday that athletes who have gone through male puberty would be barred from competing with biological females in world rankings competitions. “As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position,” said WA president Sebastian Coe in a statement, “but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”
More evidence will reinforce what we already know: Biological males are, on average, physically much stronger than biological females. Sports competition provides near-perfect laboratory conditions for testing the trans-activist hypothesis that God-given gender is inessential. And the results of the last few years have been dispositive: from Lia Thomas’s inglorious conquests in the water to the concussions and other dangerous injuries suffered by females who face biological males in contact sports such as hockey, rugby, and volleyball. “Self-identifying female” athletes aren’t competing with girls and women so much as swaggering and peacocking before them. And if you’re a talented female who’s worked hard at your sport, all you can do is smile with your second-place trophy.
The stark injustice of trans-inclusive sports has inspired a backlash. In January, protesters gathered outside the NCAA convention in San Antonio to oppose the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s college sports. Among them was three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar as well as Riley Gaines, who had “competed” against Thomas. Earlier this month, Wyoming became the 19th state to ban trans athletes from playing on female teams.
American progressives have a tradition of citing liberal Europe as a guiding beacon of liberty and tolerance. But they’re out of luck this time. Countries with long, continuous ties to old-world faiths and traditions are more resistant to a postmodern reality reset than we are. World Athletics, after all, was founded in Sweden and is currently based in Monaco. World Aquatics, which last year banned athletes who experienced male puberty from competing with females, is headquartered in Budapest. And it based its policy in part on a joint statement by the International Federation of Sports Medicine and the European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations, which said, “high testosterone concentrations…confer a baseline advantage for athletes in certain sports.”
When it comes to so-called gender-affirming care for children, Europe has also begun to wise up. Last year, England’s National Health Service closed down Tavistock, its sole child gender-identity clinic, after a review determined that its “unquestioning affirmative approach” to transitioning kids was potentially more harmful than beneficial. This approach, which the review notes “originated in the USA,” involves prescribing puberty-blockers, hormones, and other medical treatments that can cause lifelong sexual dysfunction and raise the risk of certain cancers. That’s to say nothing of the many tragic outcomes of gender-reassignment surgery. In the past few years, Sweden and Finland have also imposed greater restrictions on “gender-affirming” care for children.
If you’re an American who can still recall the contours of pre–Caitlyn Jenner reality, it may seem is if the country has gone too far off the deep end to come back. Research commissioned by Reuters found that some “121,882 children ages 6 to 17 were diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the five years to the end of 2021,” and “more than 42,000 of those children were diagnosed just last year, up 70% from 2020.” In the same period, 17,683 children started puberty-blockers or hormones. And this is undercounting as these tallies “don’t include children whose records did not specify a gender dysphoria diagnosis or whose treatment wasn’t covered by insurance.”
But, as with other causes that seem to seize the national conscience overnight, a public reckoning follows. Like defunding the police, “gender-affirming” the children is now unpopular. This month, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 61 percent of Americans, and 66 percent of political independents, “prefer a [presidential] candidate who opposes allowing medical treatment for minors related to gender identity.”
Which is why we’re seeing the rise of both the detransition movement and gender-clinic whistleblowers who are sounding the alarm on the lack of scientific rigor and medical care in the gender-affirming rubber-stamp process. In February, for example, Jamie Reed wrote a piece for the Free Press exposing the “morally and medically appalling” practices at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where she had worked as a case manager for four years. Reed recounted, among other things, the experience of a patient who was prescribed hormones at age 16, had a double mastectomy at 18, and soon after realized that she wasn’t transgender. “I want my breasts back,” she told a nurse. Reed’s article has prompted Missouri’s attorney general to launch a “full investigation” of the clinic.
Expect more whistleblowers and more investigations. Sadly, the abuses at clinics are not as immediately apparent as those on the sports field. But it’s becoming safer to object to the madness, and most Americans do. Which means change is coming. American culture is, to borrow a term, fluid. And public opinion will, in time, be affirmed.