Singletrack World Response to Nadine Dorries’ Comments on Trans Athletes

by 460

Singletrack World takes the position that Trans women are women, and cannot support the recent statements by the UK Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries. In the Mail on Sunday, she wrote that ‘competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. Not someone who was born male, took puberty blockers or has suppressed testosterone, but unequivocally and unarguably someone who was born female. I want all of our sporting bodies to follow that policy.’

This position has since been reiterated at a Westminster summit, from which the following statement has been released:

‘The Culture Secretary has urged leaders of the UK’s biggest sports to work to ‘raise their game’ and protect the integrity of elite and competitive women’s sport, at a Westminster summit on the inclusion of transgender athletes this afternoon (28 June). 

‘Nadine Dorries met with bosses of national governing bodies, and urged them to adopt the Government’s unequivocal view that elite and competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex.’

We understand that British Cycling was at the meeting, but will continue its ongoing policy review and will not issue any response at this time.

Singletrack World is concerned that this message to UK sporting bodies will result in exclusionary and prejudicial policies, and would urge British Cycling to set policies which allow Trans women – and men – to participate at all levels of sport.

Singletrack World supports inclusion, equality and diversity, not just when it comes to riding bikes, but in daily life. We are concerned that difficult and sensitive discussions about ‘fairness’ in elite sport are being used to enable a wider global political agenda of anti Trans rights, and are being used to promote transphobia. We encourage all our readers to reject any such rhetoric and help make our sport a welcoming and diverse space.  

We realise that this statement will likely prompt many questions, and we don’t believe we have all the answers. However, we cannot stand by and see a government minister give such direction to our national sports governing bodies without voicing our dissent. Trans women are women, Trans men are men, and sport is for all.

For reference, here is the full release from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport following yesterday’s meeting:

The Culture Secretary has urged leaders of the UK’s biggest sports to work to ‘raise their game’ and protect the integrity of elite and competitive women’s sport, at a Westminster summit on the inclusion of transgender athletes this afternoon (28 June). 

Nadine Dorries met with bosses of national governing bodies, and urged them to adopt the Government’s unequivocal view that elite and competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. 

Having listened to the challenges that sports are facing in implementing policies on transgender participation, the Culture Secretary emphasised that clear direction is needed that protects and shows compassion to all athletes, and encouraged sports to make progress with moving towards a position where fairness takes priority in competitive sport. This includes the consideration of launching inclusive open categories where appropriate. 

Governing bodies made clear that they are actively carrying out their own scientific research to establish the impact of athletes’ sex at birth and gender reassignment on athletic performance. UK Sport and Sport England will support the interpretation of the guidance published by the UK’s sports councils, and will coordinate the process of reporting back to Ministers on progress later in the summer. 

The Culture Secretary also encouraged governing bodies to engage with their international federations and encourage them to have consistent policies worldwide. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: 

“Sport is for everyone, no matter where you’ve come from in life. It allows people to come together and perform on a level playing field, based upon basic fairness and the integrity of competition.

“The government has the utmost compassion for people born into a body they don’t recognise. But we can’t pretend that sex doesn’t have a direct impact on a person’s athletic performance. Asking women and teenage girls to compete against someone who was biologically born a male is inherently unfair.

“I recognise that this is a complex and emotionally charged issue, so I welcome the support of our domestic governing bodies to protect and show compassion to all athletes. In the interests of sporting integrity, we must bring clarity to protect the future interests of sport around the world.” 

Today’s summit follows guidance published by the UK’s sports councils in September 2021 which made clear that balancing transgender inclusion, safety and fairness where sex can have an impact on a result, is not always possible. In April 2022 British Cycling suspended their current transgender policy, pending a full review. 

Beyond the UK, last week the International Swimming Federation (FINA) voted to bar transgender athletes participating in women’s events if they have gone through the process of male puberty.

This policy was reached after its scientific panel found that trans women had a “relative performance advantage over biological females, even after medication to reduce testosterone”. Later in the week International Rugby League also suspended the participation of male-born transgender players from competing in international women’s matches while they conduct more research. 

Meanwhile international federations including World Athletics and FIFA have signalled they will review their transgender eligibility policies. 

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 460 total)
  • Singletrack World Response to Nadine Dorries’ Comments on Trans Athletes
  • dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Trans women are women, Trans men are men, and sport is for all.

    Succinctly put.

    Odd isn’t it that in the name of fairness there seems to be a drive to the unfair and exclusionary treatment of people.

    brant
    Free Member

    I’ve just finished reading Richard Herring’s book “The Problem With Men”, and one of the areas he touches on which translates (no pun intended) quite well in this area was this:-

    “Most logical people are sceptical about horoscopes. Surely you can’t really divide the whole human race into twelve (now thirteen apparently) personality types based on the month they’re born in? Yet people seem happy to divide the world into two kinds of people based on whether their genitalia is an inny or an outy. (Even though gender is much more complex than that.)”

    I’ve always been very puzzled about any links between competitive sport and sport for recreation, and whilst I was just quite happy that I just got back from my run around the woods 1min faster than last time I did it, this was also probably due to the fact I didn’t bang my head on a tree, or stop because I got shouted at for jumping over a wall. More than anything I was glad to have just gone for a run, even after a big curry for lunch at Kebabish Original in Blackburn.

    Anyhow.

    Bravo for posting something with some conviction. Great to read here.

    Blackflag
    Free Member

    I’ll put my hands up and admit i really struggle with this issue. I find i totally agree with the singletrack statement but then talk with some feminist friends who make a very strong argument that those born male (as sex not gender) will be genetically stronger and that this disadvantages those born as women (as sex not gender).

    Will follow this thread with interest and an open mind.

    kimbers
    Full Member

    Well said stw team

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Yet people seem happy to divide the world into two kinds of people based on whether their genitalia is an inny or an outy. (Even though gender is much more complex than that.)”

    Which is an argument for only having one category for sport – let’s call it “Open”. Or perhaps categorising by gender. I think Ireland now recognises 7 genders (or is it 9 now?). It’s certainly a lot more than 2 which is all we currently have in most sports.

    Superficial
    Free Member

    I think this is an easy issue for an institution like STW. Recreational sport should, obviously, be a completely inclusive place for people – like wider society. Aside from probably a few bigots, I don’t think anyone is really doubting that.

    Whilst I applaud STW for making this statement, it’s not like there’s much on the line for them. In this case, talk is cheap.

    Competitive sport at elite level is a different thing, though. We covered most of the arguments in the recent FINA thread so there’s little point covering the same old ground. But suffice it to say it’s not as simple as saying we should just be more inclusive, since doing so will necessarily exclude others.

    supernova
    Full Member

    ^this.

    It’s an almost impossible problem to solve at the elite level. If as a woman I’d trained for years in swimming say and suddenly one of my previously male team mates decides to become a competitor then I’m going to feel aggrieved, even if I support them in all other ways.

    masterdabber
    Free Member

    I support the FINA stance.

    daveyop
    Full Member

    Yup, fina have this right

    Mackem
    Full Member

    What superficial said.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    I’ll put my hands up and admit i really struggle with this issue.

    Recreational sport should, obviously, be a completely inclusive place for people – like wider society.

    Competitive sport at elite level is a different thing, though

    Even talking with a trans friend, I’m never sure quite how this can be fairly – in terms of elite athletes – be resolved.

    Will follow this thread with interest and an open mind.

    somafunk
    Full Member

    I agree with fina on this, to argue there is no performance advantage is rather myopic

    richmars
    Full Member

    I think this is one of few cases where it is not possible to be fair to everyone.

    Jordan
    Full Member

    I can’t agree with the magazine’s view, on the basis that it denies the rights of (born female) women to compete on a fair footing in respect of profesional sport. I am fully in support of inclusivity in all other aspects of life.

    hatter
    Full Member

    Yeah, there’s no one truly ‘fair’ way of handling this, it’s a really tricky, knotty issue.

    I’m not going to pretend I know what the solution is.

    ThePilot
    Free Member

    I can’t agree either.

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Singletrack World supports inclusion, equality and diversity, not just when it comes to riding bikes, but in daily life.

    I agree with this but what is the Singletrack World position on competitive sport categories? That is what I’m struggling to see an answer to and if you’ve stated the mag’s position in there somewhere I missed it

    Jordan
    Full Member

    I think the only fair way in profesional sport is for transgender men or women to compete in a class of their own.

    Mark
    Full Member

    “I agree with this but what is the Singletrack World position on competitive sport categories? That is what I’m struggling to see an answer to and if you’ve stated the mag’s position in there somewhere I missed it”

    Those are the difficult questions to which we don’t have the answers. To be distinguished from the position that trans women are women and trans men are men. Which in of itself is not to be conflated with a position of believing all trans women and men should blanket be allowed to enter their gender categories without any policies and rules in place.

    As many have said they support the Fina stance – personally I also support it from a pragmatic pov but reluctantly so as I believe it is not without it’s own issues. But the Fina position defacto makes clear that they also believe that trans women are women and trans men are men. If you allow some trans women to enter womens races albeit under strict conditions then you can’t logically believe trans women are not women – that makes no sense.

    The FINA position therefor stands in opposition of the Dorries position, as do we at Singletrack.

    miketually
    Free Member

    Thank you for posting this STW.

    For anyone unsure on the issue of trans-inclusive pro sport, this interview with Pippa York is a must watch: https://youtu.be/5abgXEWQPlI

    kelvin
    Full Member

    There are ways to address “fairness” without calling for a knee jerk blanket ban on trans athletes across whole swathes of elite sports. Taking that kind of absolute approach towards elite athletes will result in exclusion at other levels as well, including for school kids.

    Anyway, this has been discussed again and again on other threads. Including many that ended up locked. I fear the “simple” answer will win out in the end, especially when pushed by a UK government who like “simple” answers, no matter the damage they cause.

    Bruce
    Full Member

    Well said Singletrack.
    For some reason I feel quite emotional about this, not something I was expecting. I have known two people who have transitioned and I can’t imagine anybody undertaking gender reassignment to compete in sport. The personal cost of transitioning can be very high, sometimes families do not understand and people loose contact with partners and children. My paddling partner’s nephew transitioned at 17 and was disowned by their family.
    Sport is unfair, I have never won any sporting event, some people are bigger stronger better co ordinated, richer, better equiped.
    Get a grip and give transgender people space to be who they really are. I am not trans, but resent the narrow minded discrimination of the current government. It’s time to stand together and support and cellibrate diversity.

    zippykona
    Full Member

    I have no real thoughts on this but if a Tory scumbag says something I’m more than likely to disagree with them.

    ThePilot
    Free Member

    Agree with a lot of what you say, @Bruce and yet… I can’t go along with trans women competing in female born women’s sport sorry. Women have had to fight really hard to be able to compete in sport at all and to throw this at them seems unfair. I am not at all unsympathetic to trans people and have know a few who have transitioned and know a little at least of what they go through.

    And this has nothing to do with competitive sport but seeing as you broadened the debate, I’ll leave this here:
    https://www.lglf.org/the-cotton-ceiling.html#/

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    I’m not opening anything from LGF they are, to put it bluntly, a bunch of inhumane bastards masquerading as a concerned group. Many lesbians and Stonewall have labelled them as TERFs.

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    Re the cotton ceiling thing. That logic would suggest that any man who proclaims that transwomen are women is a liar unless they would also date them.

    zezaskar
    Full Member

    First of all, people like to play semantics games on this, so lets be clear to use the clear terms for all parties where it concerns to competitive sports: trans women are not females.

    I fully support the right of every individual to do whatever they want with their bodies and their lives, while being treated with the respect they deserve by society. I fully support that sports in general should be fully welcoming to every single person. I also fully support STW’s right to publish their opinion on the topic, they are fully entitled to it.

    I just can’t stand attacks on basic science and biology. I can’t stand unfairness. Competitive sports are not recreational sports. The livelihoods of females who want to succeed and have a sports career are put in jeopardy.
    I’m the father of a little female girl who I want to live in a fair society. Should she want to pursue a competitive sports endeavor, I don’t want it to be cut short because a male , with all the inherent biological differences, decided to jump into her competition lineup.

    Again, trans women should be treated with respect, but they are not females.
    To everyone reading this that happen to agree, don’t ever feel like you shouldn’t speak your mind.

    I have been a loyal reader and forum participant at STW for many years. But as a parent, a husband and a friend of many females, this is a touchy subject to me personally. Not that this bothers STW the minimum, but this is my last post here and I will carry my clicks somewhere else.
    Over and out

    ThePilot
    Free Member

    I don’t know anything about LGF but came across it while surfing about trans people in sport.
    The appropriate paragraphs read:
    In 2012 Planned Parenthood featured a workshop run by Morgan Page, a trans identified male who has since been hired by Stonewall, entitled “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women.”
    This workshop’s goals were to help the participants (trans males) “identify barriers” and “strategize ways to overcome them.” The barriers spoken of are the boundaries and sexual orientation of lesbians, who by very definition are not attracted to males; the “ways to overcome them” being strategies to break down the boundaries and resilience of young lesbians by socially pressuring and coercing them to consider males that identify as trans as sexual partners.

    Good point i_scoff_cake and yet it feels like trans bashing which I don’t want to do.

    Anyhow, this is about competitive sport and I’ve derailed so apologies.

    convert
    Full Member

    I welcome STW making its position on this, and Mark’s follow up.

    Clearly competitive sport is going to be tricky to resolve. The absolute essential here though is to ensure that discussion of this does not cloud the waters about the situation for the vast majority of us regardless of gender – that recreational participation in physical activity is a brilliant thing. And that it is beholden on those currently doing it to make it as welcoming and accepting as possible for newcomers, or those currently involved who fear rejection. It is all too easy for the narrative to be consumed by the conundrums faced by a frighteningly small elite concern. The bigger issue is not at that level.

    This is where personally I think the catch all word ‘sport’ can do a lot of harm and is easily misinterpreted. I ride a bike – I used to do it competitively as a sport. Now I do it for the joy of it. To rip off Alpkit’s slogan – to go nice places and do good things. I’m not sure that what I do now is sport. See also my swimming. I’d hate to think someone would be put off doing my version of biking or swimming because of the UCI and FINA’s stance at elite level and thinking what I do is the same ‘sport’ and they are not welcome.

    simian
    Free Member

    I’m afraid that I’m also with Fina on this. I’m totally for equal opportunities, but have to admit that this is a lose -lose situation in my head, and only has potential to drive a stake into the heart of equality.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    Should she want to pursue a competitive sports endeavor, I don’t want it to be cut short because a male , with all the inherent biological differences, decided to jump into her competition lineup.

    Of course it’s as easy as just jumping across.

    While accepting the potential for someone’s birth gender to give them an advantage if they transition, no one transitions just to win a bloody trophy.

    theotherjonv
    Full Member

    at the risk of rehashing the fina thread, on balance I also support their stance, I think on balance being born male and going through puberty does provide sufficient advantage such that cis-women are at a disadvantage.

    But just because I think fina are right does not mean all sports taking the same position is correct. It is more complex, and more understanding and study is needed.

    And yes, watch that Pippa York cafe ride interview.

    Superficial
    Free Member

    This is where personally I think the catch all word ‘sport’ can do a lot of harm and is easily misinterpreted. I ride a bike – I used to do it competitively as a sport. Now I do it for the joy of it. To rip off Alpkit’s slogan – to go nice places and do good things. I’m not sure that what I do now is sport. See also my swimming. I’d hate to think someone would be put off doing my version of biking or swimming because of the UCI and FINA’s stance at elite level and thinking what I do is the same ‘sport’ and they are not welcome.

    Hear hear. I actually really like this. Accepting that elite sport is ‘difficult’ perhaps we all just need to make an effort to make it clear that what 99% of us do for sport is just for fun. In that context, all this stuff is actually not all that difficult and we’d welcome anyone who wants to enjoy it in the same way.

    ebygomm
    Free Member

    Not at all surprising to see another male dominated site throw women under the bus.

    Mark
    Full Member

    You realise our Managing editor, who wrote that story is a woman. As is our art director and subs manager.

    About Us

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    Open question as I’ve not researched it…

    How many born women who have transitioned to male have gone on to compete at elite level ?

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    Singletrack World takes the position that Trans women are women

    What definition of ‘woman’ is Singletrack using then?

    ThePilot
    Free Member

    In reply to Superficial
    But even there, there’s a problem. Women and girls have long been excluded from sport and have excluded themselves usually because of societal pressures and expectations. So while trans women mtbers would of course be welcomed by most riders riding for fun, there’s a barrier to them participating. As there is women. Things are changing but it’s a long slow process. It’s a tricky one alright!

    tomd
    Full Member

    This feels like taking Mad Nad’s bait hook line and sinker.

    It’s is a fairly niche culture war issue to keep us all stuck in while they crack on with really wrecking the country. There are no clean tidy answers to this issue, and the STW opinion seems just as guilty as mad nad of bringing slogans and absolutes to a nuanced issue.

    funkmasterp
    Full Member

    A very tricky subject so kudos to STW for this article. I’m of the opinion that most recreational sports should be mixed. I honestly don’t envy anyone trying to resolve the impact on professional sports participation. I think Fina made the correct call, but equally think this needs to be an ongoing conversation.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 460 total)

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