Tuesday, May 21

Fair Deal

Can anyone in New Zealand really be surprised that the Integrity Sport and Recreation Bill fails to mention women?

When the Prime Minister admits he would have been on the side of the mob silencing women at the March 25 Let Women Speak event and the Sports Minister labels anyone concerned about males in girls’ and womens’ sport “petty and small-minded,” the outlook for a fair deal for females in this country looks bleak.

Because according to these intellectual giants, transwomen (biological males) are women and biological women are well, just, an inconvenient truth. No, make that cis in the gender gibberish world we now inhabit. If you don’t know what that means, don’t bother looking it up. In reality it doesn’t mean anything and will one day be consigned to the joke bin of history.

Despite this, Save Women’s Sport Australasia (SWSA) has had the decency to take the political process seriously enough to make a submission to the bill. In my view, this requires a considerable dose of unjustified optimism given that most of the submissions to the Self-Sex ID bill were against, yet the bill still passed and is about to be made law in June. 

Chances are the public’s views on this won’t matter either to politicians of all hues, since none have spoken up for women on this issue. Never mind that an independent Curia poll showed the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders (67 per cent) do not support males being able to self-identify into women’s sport. What’s wrong with our political parties? Doesn’t anyone want to make political capital out of this glaring injustice/gender gobble-de-gook in election year?

But back to the bill. It aims to create an Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission to be an independent body to promote participants’ trust and confidence in integrity within the sport and physical recreation sector. The commission will also safeguard children in sport, investigate complaints and assist grassroots organisations. 

However, by making no reference as to how they will provide for single sex sport, SWSA notes that the bill appears to undermine the existing provisions in the Human Rights Act that provide for this right. 

While section 20 of the bill proposes that the bill must consult participants, Māori, other relevant stakeholders (including Pacific people, disabled people, children, young people and rainbow communities) and the Privacy Commissioner, women are not mentioned. Something of an oversight since female athletes have suffered historical discrimination in terms of funding, support, and status. Already Sport New Zealand has refused to survey or consult with sportswomen on the development of transgender inclusion guidelines, despite the fact that their inclusion will impact significantly on women’s safety, fairness, and opportunities.

SWSA wants the bill to spell out clearly that all sporting bodies will be free to provide single sex sport where eligibility is determined by sex, not gender identity.

As well, the bill appears to include clauses allowing for males who believe they are female to claim they are being discriminated against if a sporting organisation refuses them access into women’s or girls’ sport. 

SWSA recommends that a new definition be included that defines sex as biological sex at birth, not gender identity, and defines female as a person of the female sex as observed at birth. Yes, we really do have to state the bleeding obvious. They want females added as relevant stakeholders (again, duh, obviously). 

They’re also none too impressed with the centralisation of sport and recreation under a commission since this would give individual sport’s organisations little or no power when it came to dealing with disputes and is likely to lead to distrust between yet another Wellington-based sports bureaucracy and regional volunteers.

Given that board members will be appointed on the advice of the Minister of Sport and Recreation, it is possible that appointments made to develop ‘integrity codes’ could be politically motivated. The Labour government’s prioritisation of inclusion over fairness in sport could see the development of a code allowing transwomen to lodge discrimination complaints against any person or body questioning their participation in the female category. 

Already men are elbowing women aside on sports’ podiums in this country. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is our most famous male competing as a female. New Zealand made headlines overseas again when men swept both the male and female categories for the off-road mountain bike race in February.

But New Zealand women also have allies with men like champion powerlifter Dale Shepherd identifying as female hoping to enter a deadlift competition when he is eligible in a year’s time to make the point that men have no business competing against women.

Meanwhile in the United States this month, the House of Representatives passed a Republican bill banning biological males identifying as females from competing against females in school sports despite fierce opposition.

Twelve times all-American champion swimmer Riley Gaines has spoken up against men like Lia Thomas who finished first in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA championships in March. But a fortnight ago, Gaines was unable to speak at San Francisco University because she was “ambushed and physically hit” and forced to barricade for three hours from a mob of transgender-rights protesters. Sound familiar?

Still, you have to feel for these people. Anyone who stops to think for more than five minutes about the issue will realise the argument for transgender inclusion is based on a foundation more fragile than their egos. Sex is real. People cannot change sex. Men cannot become women, no matter how many drugs they consume or how much surgery they have. Or even how many people they bully into submission.

Reality will win. Until it does, make some noise. Show some moral courage. Speak up. Write in. Submissions close May 3. Knock yourself out – before a male like Fallon Fox gets in first. You can google that. The results will shock you.