No. You may not take our sport.

Ani O’Brien
Jun 27 · 7 min read

“They muddy the water, to make it seem deep”

Every survey and poll tells us that public opinion does not support allowing males to participate in sporting competitions for females no matter how the males identify. Most people can see the absolute travesty of justice in allowing this game of the Emperor’s New Clothes to continue. So why are governments, sporting bodies, and regulators ignoring us all and ploughing ahead with what will surely be the dismantling of female sport? What kind of oligarchy are they that they clearly think they know better than the vast majority of the populations they are supposed to represent? No doubt they see themselves as more of a meritocracy, but they are demonstrating that they have next to no understanding of science nor any common sense so I see little justification for their patronising governance. It is time they remembered that without the masses they are showing such disdain for, they have no athletes, no bums on seats, no one to buy merchandise, no sponsors, and no one to pay their bills.

Transwoman Laurel Hubbard representing New Zealand in women’s weightlifting

There is plenty of evidence to prove that male bodies are built with the potential for more power, speed, and agility than their female counterparts. Some absolute comedians will tell us that we need “more research” and that the science “isn’t conclusive”. We need to stop buying in to that nonsense immediately. All we need is a pair of goddamn eyes and a shred of common sense to see what we all know — men are on the whole faster and stronger than women. Pretending that this isn’t something we have known as a species since the beginning of our collective consciousness is ridiculous. We have millennia of anecdotal data and about a century of accurate timed and measured data to back this up. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves, or us, or both.

“They muddy the water, to make it seem deep.”

Simple analysis of times, distances, weights, heights, and tallies recorded under the most intense scrutiny tells us all we need to know about the difference in athletic ability between the sexes. For example, no woman has ever run faster than Flo Jo’s 1988 100metre time of 10.49sec. However, analysis by the incredible Dr. Fond-of-Beetles shows that in 2017 alone, “744 senior males ran 100m faster than 10.49s for a combined total of 2825 runs”. We have research enough. We have sports scientists all over the world collecting data from their athletes everyday and I hypothesise that it wouldn’t take a genius to elucidate the differences between males and females. No. Enough! We all know the truth here and the truth is that the truth is not what matters to the people making these decisions.

Transwoman Hannah Mouncey playing women’s Australian Rules Football

What matters is what has always mattered — male feelings. Male desire to conquer and conquest has been the single most deadly force throughout history so why shouldn’t they take from women our fledgling sporting competitions? Just a matter of decades old, women’s sport is still in her infancy. Women’s professional sport has barely taken her first breath! Men have had their arenas and their competitions as far back as written history remembers while we were relegated to the home and to raising children. We were excluded from the excitement, challenge, camaraderie, glory, prizes, honour, and opportunity that athletic entertainment offers. We had to fight and beg to be allowed to form our teams and leagues using equipment discarded by men and only so long as we didn’t neglect our duties to home and husband. We have built our women’s sport from the ground up. Even now where some of the top female athletes can make a living off their sport we are told our smaller prize pools are justified by our inability to perform as well as the men or draw the crowds they do. If sporting organisations believe this, it should be no trouble for them to see why allowing men to take part in our ‘inferior’ competitions is unfair and potentially dangerous.

Transwoman Gabrielle Ludwig, 52, plays college women’s basketball

With science and history at their disposal, the powers that be still play coy and refuse to protect women’s sport. They are blinded by apparent empathy for the heartbreak of the transgender athletes who’s stories we hear far more often than those of the women who grimace below them on the podium. We hear over and over again how it would be tantamount to a human rights abuse to exclude transwomen from women’s sport. We are implored to consider how awful it would be to have your identity “erased” like that. We are told we know nothing of their suffering and should count ourselves lucky. This is where the real manipulation happens. They muddy the science to confuse us and then guilt trip us into handing over the keys to the house and car. Not anymore.

If this is about feelings and inclusion then how about we consider the feelings of girls who know that no matter how hard they train none of them will ever beat the boy who has been allowed to run next to them? What about the girl who doesn’t make the team so misses out on the opportunity to travel away overnight to another town for the first time? What about the girl who’s entire educational future depends on a female sports scholarship and a male wins it? What about the female MMA fighter who was hospitalised with a broken skull after a couple of minutes in the ring with army veteran, father, and transwoman Fallon Fox? What about the young women at their physical peak who lose time and again to male competitors almost twice their age like Laurel Hubbard? What about their losses, frustrations, dejection, heartbreak? Are they not excluded from opportunities that are rightfully theirs? Don’t you dare tell them to try harder.

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right… I still disagree with Fox fighting. Any other job or career I say have a go at it, but when it comes to a combat sport I think it just isn’t fair.” — Tamika Brents

The word “no” has been so easily flung — like from the mouths of toddlers — at women when we have asked (and then demanded) to be included fully in society. Stroppy blokes have thrown hissy fits at the notion of us casting a vote, showing our ankles, or daring to get an education. And yet, when we dare to say “no” ourselves, they are willing to throw reality out with the bath water! We are allowed to say “no”. We are entitled to say “no, we will not be allowing any males to participate in our sports no matter how femininely they express themselves”. We are entitled to say “no, your feelings are not more important than our feelings and we will not be manipulated into conceding”. We are entitled to say “no, you are not being excluded, you were never included in our sex class in the first place — that is a fact”.

Selina Soule, one of three brave young women challenging Connecticut’s trans-inclusive athletics policy

Life has been pretty unfair historically for women. We’ve been excluded from a lot, but we are tough and resilient and everything we have in public life we have fought for. We need to be tough again. Sport is important for health and wellbeing as well as opportunities. It is also a key battleground for us in stopping this attempt to colonise womanhood. It is time to remind sporting organisations that they exist only because we participate and spectate the competitions they govern. If they will not listen to people telling them that sport must be segregated by sex and not identity, we must protest. Every girls’ or women’s competition that allows a male athlete to compete must be boycotted. We must support female athletes to sit down at the start-line when the gun fires, walk off the court, and refuse to stand on podiums. Imagine the power of young women standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with each other saying “no”. We must write and sign petitions to every organisation who fails to protect female sports. We must rally around brave women like Selina Soule, Sharron Davies, and Martina Navratilova who have been outspoken in the face of huge consequences professionally, emotionally, and socially. We must completely refuse to capitulate to this intrusion on our right to participate fully in public life in spaces we have created for ourselves with barely any resources. We must make them listen.

I say “no”, will you join me?


Ani O’Brien

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Gender-critical lesbian feminist.