Gaines Raises Questions That Deserve More Than A Beating

About a month ago, All-American swimmer Riley Gaines was supposed to speak at San Francisco State University. It did not go well for her, or free speech, after all.

“I give my speech and, of course, there’s many protesters in the room. But I welcome protesters. I welcome people with different perspectives,” Gaines said. “That’s why I choose to go somewhere like San Francisco. I know a lot of them won’t agree with me but that’s who I want to get in front of. That’s who I want to change their minds to see from my perspective. So there was lots of protesters and it was relatively civil. There was some heckling. But it was good.

“After the event, almost as soon as it finished, it was as if the floodgates opened and I was rushed. People from outside the classroom rushed in. They flickered the lights off. They stormed the podium and they were pushing and shoving and hitting. And I was supposed to meet with the head of campus police a half an hour before the event to discuss an exit strategy if this happened but the police never showed up to meet me.

After being beaten by protesters, Gaines ended up spending a few hours barracaded in a classroom while trans activists negotiated with the administration for money. Afterward, SFSU had something to say about it.

Jamillah Moore, the university’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, sent an email to the student body and made no mention of an apology to Gaines. Instead, Moore praised the “tremendous bravery” of protesters and thanked the students for participating “peacefully.”

What to do about transgender women competing in sports is one of many difficult questions for a many reasons. Screaming the mantra that trans women are women is no answer when the result is to preclude women from fair competition. But whether to draw a line, and where to draw it, is an unacceptable discussion. Whether women are entitled to privacy in locker rooms where they are not confronted with women with penises in the showers is an unacceptable discussion. And to try to engage in the discussion is to invite being physically beaten by activists.

It’s wrong to restrain a threatening homeless mentally ill black man on the subway. But it’s right to beat an All American female swimmer in the hallway?

Gaines’ beef is that for all her effort, her competition against another swimmer, a transgender woman named Lia Thomas, who was a mediocre competitor when she was a man, but is now an elite swimmer as a transgender woman, has impaired her rights under Title IX, prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

The Biden administration’s proposed new athletics rule would require schools to allow trans athletes to compete on teams that align with their gender identity, except where it would undermine “fairness in competition” or safety. The new policy doesn’t define fairness, it doesn’t define transgender, it doesn’t define a “gender identity,” and it doesn’t define women.

How can we defend what we cannot define? This proposed rule places the burden of Title IX squarely on the shoulders of women. It says that men must be included wherever they want to compete, adding that sex-based criteria may not be considered if it proves harmful (even emotionally) to men. But what about the harm amending Title IX would do to women?

These are fair questions, fair concerns. They go to one of the fundamental flaws of progressive ideology, that all questions are answered by outcomes without regard to principle. Women are more oppressed than men, so women win. Transgender people are more oppressed than non-transgender people, so a transgender woman wins over a “cis” woman. Indeed, the mere labeling of a woman, whether by chromosomes, genitalia or otherwise, is subject to extreme controversy.

But raise these questions and the best response you’ll get are ridicule and snark, accusations of transphobia and bigotry, the purpose of which is to stifle any serious discussion and demonize anyone trying to discuss it. Riley Gaines was beaten and forced to barricade herself in a classroom for her efforts, lest she suffer greater physical harm at the hands of the unduly passionate who believe they stand for equity by beating a young woman who doesn’t succumb to their shrieks of outrage and hatred.

There is, and has always been, different problems for the transgender community than for the gay and lesbian community. Who someone else finds sexually attractive has no impact on who you find sexually attractive. It’s none of your business and everyone can go on with their lives unimpeded by other people’s personal choices, just as you can with yours.

Is that true for the transgender community? In some respects, sure. What differences does it make that the person you employ is transgender? If they can perform the job, how they appear is irrelevant. But when their rights conflict with the rights of others who are just as entitled to the rights and privileges of the pursuit of happiness, an education, privacy and speech, accommodations are required. Before one the rights of women are subjugated to the rights of transgender women, there needs to be discussion and agreement that this is the best and most acceptable path to take. That activists will beat you if you disagree is not how rights are divvied up.

The belief is that any discussion of whether transgender women should be deemed no different than any other women renders their ideological foundation subject to negotiation. They will not discuss “their existence,” as it’s hyperbolically framed. There’s nothing to discuss because transgender women are women, end of discussion. No disagreement will be tolerated.

Is it really that simplistic, that trans women are women and there’s nothing more to discuss? Maybe so, or maybe not. But if the reaction to Riley Gaines raising reasonable questions ranges from screaming to beating, then you’ve lost the argument and are no better than any thug who tries to prevail through violence.

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