Photo credit: Terren Peterson (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Terren Peterson (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Terren Peterson (CC-By-2.0)

The Minnesota State High School Athletic League earlier this month passed, on an 18 to 1 vote, a new policy that allows transgendered boys to play on girls athletic teams.  Minnesota already allows girls to play on boys’ sports teams and the league said they are the 33rd state to develop a policy regarding transgendered athletes.

“When there is confirmation of a student’s consistent and uniform gender-related identity…the student will be eligible to participate in MSHSL activities consistent with the student’s gender identification for the balance of the student’s high school eligibility,” reads the policy.

The policy requires transgender student-athletes to provide a written statement from a parent or guardian affirming the gender identity and a note from a health care professional regarding the student’s consistent gender identification.

This brings about some obvious concerns – not just with locker room considerations, but in terms of an unfair advantage for the boys who end up playing in girls sports – not to mention safety concerns.

Fox News reported that other critics such as the Minnesota Child Protection League has weighed in.  They took out two full-page ads in the paper calling the policy “The End of Girls’ Sports?”

The ad shows a brunette softball player resting her head on a bat, as though she was benched, with the caption, “Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your 14-year-old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a male…and now she may have to shower with him.”

This policy is also lawsuit-bait according to Minnesota attorney John Hagen:

The policy calls for schools to review particular matters (for example, statements from parents and teachers). Then it states: “When there is confirmation of a student’s consistent and uniform gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity, the student will be eligible” to play on his team of choice (emphasis added).

Any lawyer can tell you that such language generates lawsuits. The disjunctive “or,” the boundless “any other evidence” and the mandatory “will be eligible” are potent grounds for a claim. The clause would grant boys a right to play as girls virtually on demand.

Imagine the following scenario. An adolescent counterpart of Clay Matthews (the very long-haired, very burly linebacker for the Green Bay Packers) comes before your school board. He declares: “I always have had a feminine self-image. I never told anyone, because of society’s expectations, but I’m revealing it now. My long hair is evidence of my sincerity and my feminine self-expression.”

The High School League’s pending policy would compel the school to let this boy play power forward on the girls’ basketball team, regardless of safety considerations. (Imagine a Clay Matthews look-alike bowling girls over under the basket.) If the school resisted, it would promptly be faced with a lawsuit under the “will be eligible” clause.

Carl Trueman points out at First Things that even though proponents claim that the policy is based in science and couched in the language of personal sincerity in reality the policy reveals the incoherence of transgender politics.

If gender is a social construct or a psychological state, independent of biological determination, then why is there a need for biological procedures to address the issue? One might push even further: What exactly is the understanding of “gender” being promoted? Presumably the girl at elementary school who prefers (even sincerelyprefers) toy trucks to Barbie dolls is not automatically considered transgender and a candidate for hormone therapy and surgery. But, on the basis of this policy’s criteria, why not? The language of social definition scarcely helps here: Who decides what these social expectations are and when and why they need to be combated with hormone therapies and gender reassignment surgery? And is there not a tragic incoherence to that person who denies that his body has any authority with regard to his gender identity and yet who demands that his body be changed because it is so significant to his gender identity?

Yet, despite the incoherence of a biological policy built on the denial of biology and on the prioritizing of psychological subjectivity, and despite the inability of the lobby groups to provide anything approaching a coherent or compelling definition of gender which really does separate it from biology while avoiding pure subjectivity, the social and political power of the transgender lobby is growing in significance. As with the issue of gay marriage, there is a lesson here: Good arguments are no protection against bad arguments or no arguments at all, especially when the latter are allied to the rhetoric of medical professionalism and personal sincerity, touching story lines, and the organized determination of small groups of activists.

This action in Minnesota is a sign of the times unfortunately.  Common sense has been chucked out the window.

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