Opinion | Transgender Athletes in Women's Sports – The New York Times

Supported by
To the Editor:
Re “The Legal Foundation of Women’s Sports Is Under Fire,” by David French (column, June 26):
If courts agree with Mr. French that substituting gender identity for biological sex as the “determining factor” in athletics eligibility “will undermine both the practical and legal basis for women’s sports,” they will confirm the adage that hard cases make bad law.
Examples of problematic participation of transgender athletes are extraordinarily rare. By one estimate, “out of 200,000 women in college sports at a given time, about 50 are transgender.”
Nor is participation a given. In line with the Olympic framework, the N.C.A.A. follows a “sport by sport approach.” By evaluating testosterone levels and other factors, the N.C.A.A. aims to preserve “opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”
The Biden administration’s proposed Title IX rule also allows schools to prohibit transgender athletes from competing if it would undermine fairness or create undue risks of injuries.
There may be room to improve these guidelines, but a blanket ban would be unnecessary and unjust.
David Wippman
Glenn Altschuler
Mr. Wippman is the president of Hamilton College. Dr. Altschuler is a professor of American studies at Cornell University.
To the Editor:
David French did not address the obvious issue of hormone treatment and how that affects performance.
Lia Thomas, a transgender female swimmer, won her race for a national title, but did not set a national record, which is held by a cisgender woman. She has been vilified, and one of the women she has raced against seems to have now made a career of grievance, traveling around the country speaking out against transgender athletes.
So was Ms. Thomas’s performance aided by being assigned male at birth, even though she had been on hormone treatment and probably would have lost a race against the cisgender record-holder? This is not a black-and-white question with a black-and-white answer.
Mr. French and other critics need to consider the effect of hormone therapy on transgender women and not assume that, because they were born male, they inherently have an unassailable advantage.
Anthony James
Buffalo, N.Y.
To the Editor:
David French purports to distance himself from “rhetoric that declares women’s sports will be ‘destroyed’ by the inclusion of a small number of trans women,” but his column amplifies the very message he claims to denounce.
Mr. French asserts that his opinion is “rooted in hard facts,” but he does not include critical context. For example, he suggests that barring girls who are transgender from girls’ athletics is necessary to “protect equal opportunity,” but he fails to mention that the cisgender plaintiffs in a case he mentions (which argues against transgender women’s participation in women’s sports) received athletic scholarships and offers to run at elite colleges and universities. The transgender girls received none.
Mr. French also lauds progress made as a result of Title IX without acknowledging that female athletes continue to face significant disparities in funding, coaching and other opportunities. None of that has anything to do with transgender people.
Meanwhile, transgender young people are facing an avalanche of bills seeking to deny them not only participation in school sports teams, but also the ability to obtain necessary health care and to go about everyday life as the people they know themselves to be.
Not only is there no tension between transgender rights and women’s rights, transgender-inclusive policies benefit all women, as leading Title IX advocates including the Women’s Sports Foundation and National Women’s Law Center have pointed out.
Feminists should reject all efforts to drive a wedge between cisgender and transgender women and girls.
Ria Tabacco Mar
New York
The writer is the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Women’s Rights Project.
To the Editor:
The Terror of Threes” (Science Times, June 27) describes the growing instability of a world with three nuclear superpowers and contrasts it with the supposed stability of the current bipolar world. It is a hard argument to make after the recent unsettling events in Russia, the country with the largest nuclear stockpile in the world.
Commentators quoted in the article seem to have an almost mystical faith that “deterrence” can guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used. A more realistic assessment was offered some years ago by former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who argued that we have survived this long into the nuclear era not because of wise leaders or sound military doctrine, and certainly not because of infallible technology, but because “we lucked out.”
It is time for the U.S. to acknowledge that a policy based on the indefinite maintenance of vast nuclear arsenals is little more than a hope for continued good luck.
The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used is to eliminate them, and an effort to do that should be the centerpiece of U.S. security policy. The U.S. should enter now into negotiations with the eight other nuclear-armed states for a verifiable, enforceable time-bound agreement to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, as advocated in H. Res. 77, currently before the House of Representatives.
There is no guarantee that such an effort will succeed, but there is absolutely no down side to trying. On the other hand, if we don’t get rid of all nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before our luck runs out, and they are used with catastrophic effects for all humanity.
Ira Helfand
Leeds, Mass.
The writer is a past president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
To the Editor:
Re “When Goodreads Is Bad News for Authors” (Arts, June 27):
Imagine reviewing a book six months before its publication, based not on having read it but simply on objections to its premise! Well, thanks to Goodreads, I no longer have to imagine it. How easy it must be to intimidate publishers from getting behind a book and making an effort to sell it.
What is next on the horizon? Why not review the forthcoming lists of books that publishers plan to issue next year and allow readers and nonreaders to attack books before those books see the light of day?
Goodreads may soon change its name to NoReads.
Louis Phillips
New York
The writer is a poet, playwright and short story writer.
To the Editor:
Re “What It Means to Be a Flâneur” (Travel, June 25):
I have been strolling in cities all over the world all my adult life. (I turn 90 this month.) Because I have a bad sense of direction and frequently get lost, I have wandered helplessly but enjoyed myself immensely.
I have seen buildings, fountains, markets, bridges, shops, festivals, parades, displays, gardens, even fights, on and on. They have been fascinating.
An added benefit is approaching strangers and asking how to get back to my starting point, in various languages, as best I could. I always get some conversation, always help. And I always return safely.
Shirley Smithberg
New York


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top