The left pushes “transgender” athletes as conservatives defend Title IX and biological females. Meanwhile, governors battle legislatures over transgender issues, Utah’s governor vetoing a legislative ban on transgender athletes, a veto quickly overridden. Missing are the numbers.
Here are some numbers. Rather than tell you what to think, draw your own conclusions.
First, 3.4 million biological girls participate in high school sports. About 4.5 million biological boys do. While unequal, both numbers are higher after Title IX – which advanced girls’ sports.
At the college level, NCAA athletes include 222,920 biological females and 281,699 biological males. While biological males outnumber biological females, both are higher than pre-Title IX.
Second, sports are a good thing. Any athletic involvement produces health benefits, including mental health. This is especially so for girls, including a reduced tendency toward suicide.
While teen suicides are up, studies are enlightening. They indicate “for both males and females, sport participation protected against hopelessness and suicidality,” as “involvement in sport confers unique psychosocial benefits that protect adolescents against suicidality.”
While individual mental health conditions may require more than athletics, the logical inference is that higher participation in sports improves mental health and reduces suicides.
Third, “fairness” is vital to induce participation. A central ethic of sports is the “level playing field” in terms of age, rules, timekeeping, scorekeeping, officiation, and gender. Without the perception of fairness, the inducement to participate, compete, and achieve goes away.
One could argue life is unfair, so biological girls should compete against biological boys, revealing the “best athlete,” but society has so far concluded – in deference to physical differences – that fairness requires competing within your own biological gender.
This understanding is ancient, showing up in the 1900 Olympics when women first participated. They did not compete with men for obvious reasons – the likelihood of losing. Absent division by gender, female recruitment would have suffered.
Fourth, while a half-million NCAA athletes compete by biological gender, exactly 32 transgender athletes participate in NCAA sports – using a “non-biological gender.”
Fifth, America has 15.3 million high school students. Even with media hyping transgenders, those self-identifying as “not their biological gender” is objectively low. The highest estimate is 270,000 – based on sampling of a few urban schools, less than half a percent of total U.S. students. Other estimates make the number nebulous, perhaps one percent.
Absent hard numbers, the American Schools Statistics data show 358,000 high schoolers with an “emotional disturbance.” The study notes COVID restrictions, closures, and remote learning also exacerbated many mental conditions.
Finally, studies show a higher likelihood of “transgender” suicide attempts, roughly one in three, but the overall number of youths attempting or thinking about suicide also rose during COVID restrictions – especially among girls.
Where does the data lead? When a governor – like Utah’s Republican Governor Spenser Cox – says meeting with a transgender youth “changes your heart,” as “they are just trying to stay alive,” this is moving, but this is also not the whole story.
Teens struggling with any emotional, psychological, mental, or identity crisis are worthy of care, concern, and attention – regardless of their individual crisis. But that is just half the story.
The other half: When only 32 NCAA athletes “identify” as the opposite sex, and a minuscule percentage – perhaps one – of high school athletes do the same, what effect does empowering transgenders have on the quarter-million biological girls who identify as girls – and want fair competition in college?
What effect does favoring transgenders have on the 3.4 million high school biological girls, forced to compete against biological males? If depression, suicide risk, and other stresses count for one group, why not the other?
Simply put, if the number of biological girls affected is far higher, why not consider that fact in assuring the greatest fairness and mental health in sports for the greatest number? Some will argue this is utilitarian, and it is – but these girls, fairness for the biological girls, count too.
Again, every individual is worthy, but a small group facing an identity crisis around gender should not eclipse the majority of girls who compete as biological females. Is it not logical?
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