The list of objections to the dubiously-processed Equal Opportunity Bill continues to grow the more we look at this sad scenario.
One which hasn’t been examined is the apparent desire to revert Victoria to a ‘me Tarzan, you Jane’ mentality when it comes to participation in sport. Tabloid-style objections are that people are ‘forced into unisex’ competition. What, however, is the other side of the story.
Moving society backwards to a focus on a limited and limiting gender binary will be detrimental to participation of transgender people in sport at all levels. If strength, stamina and physique are the key issues for participation, then sex and gender are of little significance.
A tall cisgender (a person whose gender identity matches their body at birth) woman can participate as herself without question.
However, a tall trans woman is inevitably accused of having an unfair advantage. But there’s no difference. The irrationality is brought about by deeply-held binary assumptions about sex and gender — assumptions the proposed bill attempts to reinforce.
To show how current limited binary thinking creates anomalies, I cite the example of a trans woman in Victoria who is told by her local golf club she can be admitted as a member as female, can play as a woman for the standard weekend round, but can’t play as a woman in competitive tournaments until she has completed surgery and that to let her play now would create an unfair advantage.
A trans woman who has been on hormones for one – two years has the same strength and stamina as a cisgender woman.
Binary assumptions, however, keep her from the enjoyment, exercise and social contact — rights that others take for granted when in sports participation. Interestingly, trans men don’t seem to face these issues as much. Is it ‘OK’ to be a short slim guy? No advantage?
The simple win-win solution is to give maximum choice so people can play either regardless of sex or gender and others can play in single-sex competitions.
Not so hard with a bit of thought — except to a government that seems stuck in rigid outdated ideology and an inability to understand words like communication, consensus and compromise.
info: Sally Goldner is VGLRL treasurer and TransGender Victoria spokesperson
See also Come Out to Play pp56-9: