The unfalsifiability of the anti-trans sports movement
The anti-trans side is winning on the sports front, but it’s emotion, not science, winning the day for them
Few war issues have had such an immediate political impact as the trans athlete debate. Over the last several years, conservative state governments in tk states have succeeded in banning trans girls and women from girls and women’s competitive sports.
But the science on this issue is largely inconclusive at best, and at most, supports trans women’s place in women’s sports. This has run into intense opposition from those who aren’t well informed on the issue who come into it with the assumption that men are by default better athletes than women due to birthright.
This assumption is exploited by anti-trans campaigners, who use it as a substitute for scientific fact. “Everyone knows” folklore about men and women then takes the place of actual scientific analysis of hard data. This is further stoked by a common gender critical messaging tactic: showing sporting and athletic data of the difference between cisgender men’s and women’s athletes and declaring trans women’s participation fundamentally unfair.
It’s a neat trick when you think about it. You can use this tactic to sell a ban on trans women athletes without ever scientifically looking at what a trans woman’s body can and can’t do.
The problem with this is, of course, science. Humans are naturally inquisitive creatures, and scientists are going to examine questions like these despite whatever policy discussions are happening.
And the science is starting to go in the direction of trans athletes. It’s a pretty obvious fact that hormone replacement therapy makes permanent changes in trans people’s bodies. In fact, it’s a talking point in the transphobe campaign against teen transitioners. One of the most prominent books against trans rights is even titled “irreversible damage,” referring to permanent bodily changes.
The anti-trans folks want things both ways here. They want to ban teens from transitioning because hormones cause permanent changes in bodies, but they want to ban trans women from women’s sports because trans women’s bodies don’t change when…