The issue of fairness, specifically as it applies to gender identity has been front and center for the last several months. Two individuals in particular, have been the focus of a heated debate. And it’s a debate that should be heated. Nothing ever comes to a boil without being heated, does it.
Lia Thomas of Penn and Iszac Henig of Yale are the two most notable individuals to date who are creating a storm of controversy regarding their participation in women’s college swimming competition. Their presence in the sport, or more specifically their dominance in the sport has raised some major ethical and moral issues of fairness because what is fair is not always fair.
One thing I have never tried to kid myself about is that I am a real woman … because I am not a real woman; and I never will be. Anyone who knows me or has read anything I have ever written about me and my gender identity, knows that I have a very basic understanding of not only who I am but most importantly what I am … and what I am not.
An incident that occurred early in my transition has stuck with me like the indelible ink of a tattoo artist. I was leaving for one of the first Tri-Ess meetings after my second wife Marilyn had accepted me into her life. She wanted to check me out to make sure my appearance met with her approval before heading out the door. After a quick visual she said, “You look really nice Honey but, you’re still just a man in a dress.” And she was right. It was probably the most important thing she, or anyone could have said to me. It made me examine very carefully what being a woman really meant.
I didn’t arrive at an answer right away but when I did it was a hard pill to swallow. There are still times, over twenty years later that I am forced to accept that real women are never going to accept me as a “real woman”. So, what am I if I’m not a “real woman”? I am a person who was born male, a boy who grew into a man, who never felt totally comfortable in that role. I am more comfortable in the role of a woman but not totally comfortable in that role either. Why not?
Short answer: The body I was born with and the set of emotions I was born with are mismatched. That is just a fact and if I am to be a happy productive member of society, I have to accept that. The fact that I was born male but am living my life as a female does not make me a female. That is something that Lia Thomas and Iszac Henig have yet to realize. And apparently something that the NCAA has refused to acknowledge.
I don’t know for a fact if either one of them has done anymore than decide to live as female without benefit of hormone therapy or surgery. Having experienced both myself, and lived with the subsequent changes in my body, specifically muscle mass and body strength, I seriously doubt that either one of them has done anymore that state that they are female and that in and of itself should make them ineligible to compete in women’s sports. They are not female. They are transgendered, not transexuals. There is a huge difference, and the NCAA should never have allowed them to compete with genetically born women.
There couldn’t be a more authoritative voice on the matter than Caitlyn Jenner. She shared the same opinion in an interview with FOX News on Wednesday, January 19th of this year. Jenner stated that while she applauded the athletes for having the courage to live their lives in accordance with their inner selves she was firmly opposed to them being able to compete against “real” (my wording) women.
Gender Identity is a sticky wicket regardless of how you approach it, but this particular issue has been approached without regard to fairness to the women who by virtue of their genetic make up will never be able to match the physical makeup of a person claiming to be a woman who is in fact not a woman in any respect other than in their own mind.
I work in a very public world. I am a kitchen designer at Home Depot. If I have learned anything in that capacity, it is that while I am accepted as “Georgia” and treated with the utmost respect by everyone I come in contact with I will never be seen as a “real” woman. Do I think that’s fair? Fair isn’t the point. Reality is the point. The reality is that I was born in a male body with a given set of emotions, some masculine, but most feminine. Is that fair?
As I said … What’s fair is not always fair.