Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gender Is A Continuum, And A Big Damn Problem In Sports

I don't want to tell her what to do
In Florida (and yes, it's always Florida, but that's another story), MMA fighter Fallon Fox has run afoul of public scrutiny for listing her gender as female before winning a fight. The issue? Fox wasn't female until relatively recently. And didn't bring this up right away.

Now, here's the deal... if you buy the idea that transgendered people are correcting a birth defect -- and honestly, given the pain, suffering and wild expense involved, I tend to have this moment of charity in a heartbeat, and thank my fate that I wasn't given that problem -- well, we don't usually go around advertising such things in our day to day lives. If you got Lasix or fixed a cleft palate or used to have braces, no one expects you to show up for a job interview with the old photos.

But sports, well, is different. Men are stronger, faster, bigger; always have been, and while the distance is shrinking, it's never really going to completely go away, especially when it comes to the apex of competition. And while Fox's story is never likely to get to the point of becoming more than isolated incidents, imagine this:

Twenty years in the future, when the technology improves to the point where ordinary people can't tell the transgendered from anyone else...

With the change, as it were, happening faster and more inexpensively, perhaps even with reversibility...

And women's sports become economically viable, maybe even to the point of superiority to men's (like, well, tennis, at least by the ratings)...

So that the individual could be seen as, well, gaming the system. And when that happens, well, someone's going to do that. Many people, if the PED problem is any indication.

It all leads to sports becoming non-gender based, which might, of course, destroy women's sports, much in the same way that increased equality for women have harmed women's only colleges.

So the actual logistics of Fox's incident aren't all that important. She's 37, working in MMA, a niche sport with a very limited amount of time to push the envelope.

But she won't be the last one. And as always, the technology will outpace our ability to deal with the change...

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