This next sentence may seem odd coming from me, but keep reading.
It’s not transphobic to say that trans women athletes have a physical advantage over cis women.
The medical truth of that statement has been debated, and I believe that, on the whole, it’s not true. There are certainly cases of trans women who do have a physical advantage, but in the aggregate, it’s just not true. But that’s not my point.
My point is that the statement itself, IN A CULTURAL VACUUM, is a valid debate point. It is like “All lives matter” in that regard: IN A CULTURAL VACUUM, it is not an excessively controversial claim.
But the reality is: Most of the people making the claim that trans women have an advantage don’t particularly care about the sanctity of women’s sports in the first place. What moves the claim from “mostly false, but believe what you want” to an actively anti-trans statement is the cultural context.
Meaning: This was not a significant talking point until trans people in general started gaining real cultural power, and the folks who wanted us to stay down and stay hidden needed to find ways to shut us up.
First it was rules against where we pee, and we pointed out that predators don’t wait for permission.
Then it was rules against how we’re allowed to compete.
Let me reiterate: Most of these people don’t truly care about the “sanctity” of women’s sports. And it’s also important to note that women’s sports were first created as a category not to give cis women an equitable chance to compete, but to keep women out of men’s sports, where they might embarrass the men.
DeVos rolled back some of Obama’s Title IX protections. The people now worried about the safety of cis women in sports were fine when she made it harder for women to file assault allegations under Title IX.
This is why arguing whether trans women have an advantage in sports (most of them don’t) is playing by their rules.