This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

If you have comments on this blog posting, please email me .

The Opinion Blog is organised by threads, so each post is identified by a thread number ("Major" index) and a post number ("Minor" index). If you want to view the index of blogs, click here to download it as an Excel spreadsheet.

Click here to see the whole Opinion Blog.

To view, save, share or refer to a particular blog post, use the link in that post (below/right, where it says "Show only this post").

Transgender Athlete Bans Spread.

Posted on 23rd June 2022

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

There seems to be a bit of a bandwagon rolling at the moment regarding transgender athletes.

This article on the BBC reports that swimming's world governing body, Fina, has banned transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

The decision by Fina was praised by Sharron Davies, winner of a silver medal for swimming in the 1980 Olympics, and she called for other sports to follow suit, as reported here by the Daily Mail. Recently, cycling updated their own rules but were criticised for continuing to base transgender inclusion on testosterone levels and admitting they could not 'eliminate all advantages held by a transgender'.

Following hot on the heels of that decision, the International Rugby League (IRL) has decided to ban transgender players from women's international rugby league matches, as reported here by the BBC. At the moment this is a temporary ban, while the issue is further studied.

The latest development, reported here on the BBC, is that Lord Coe, the World Athletics president, has hinted the sport could also ban transgender women from elite female competitions, insisting "fairness is non-negotiable".

Some readers are probably not pleased, because they feel that we should not punish athletes for their decisions about gender identity. My position, however, is that, if they had ambitions to compete as women at the top levels of a sport, they should have taken that into account before deciding on their gender reassignment surgery. The choice is easy to state, although not so easy to make: either stay male and compete in your sport, or become female and give up your sporting ambitions. Lord Coe's position that "fairness is non-negotiable" trumps all other issues.

It's official: trans swimmer Lia Thomas does have an unfair advantage.

Posted on 31st May 2022

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

This piece on The Daily Mail weighs in on the debate about transgender athletes. In it, doctors confirm that Lia Thomas has an unfair advantage over athletes who were born female, despite taking testosterone suppressants.

As I have explained previously in this thread, the advantage comes from physiological differences, rather than from hormones.

I think it may be time for people to stop worrying about the risk of transgender athletes being offended, and start worrying about real fairness in sport.

Michael Phelps Weighs In On Transgender Athletes.

Posted on 20th February 2022

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

This report on "At The Buzzer" describes Michael Phelps' opinion about transgender athletes.

In case anyone doesn't know, Michael Phelps should be considered an expert on sports, being the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time.

Although he points out that the issue is complicated, he is basically against them competing against cisgender athletes, and believes there should be a level playing field in sports, which is not the case when cisgender athletes are required to compete against transgender athletes.

Giving a higher priority to the acceptance of people's gender identity is what is creating this uneven playing field.

Of course, opinion is divided, as you can see from the comments on this Facebook post.

More About Transgender Athletes.

Posted on 3rd June 2021

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

I found this article on the BBC interesting. It describes how Florida has banned transgender athletes from competing in women's sports. Florida joins an increasing number of states that have passed such legislation.

I found the most interesting part of the article to be the video of an interview by Stephen Sackur of Sharron Davies, an English former Olympic swimmer. She reminds us that men have, on average, a 10% performance advantage in sports, which can be as high as 20% in some sports. This advantage is enough to ensure that athletes born female have no chance of winning medals when competing against transgender athletes.

I wonder whether part of the problem is the entitled attitude that so many people have nowadays. Yes, people should have the right to have gender reassignment surgery and the associated hormone treatment, and the right to not be subject to prejudice for choosing this. The problem seems to be that they think they are entitled to make this choice with no consequences whatsoever. The changes in the law creeping across the US mean that there are consequences: they will not be able to compete in sports. This is a basic component of life: choices and consequences, one of the basic tenets of Montessori education. I don't see why people should be able to choose to change their sex, without such a reasonable consequence.

Female Athlete Complains Of Unfair Competition From Transgender Athletes.

Posted on 23rd May 2021

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

This news report on "USA Today" contains a strong complaint by a top American athlete, Chelsea Mitchell, about unfair competition in her sport (the 55-meter dash).

She says that "time after time" she has lost to transgender athletes. "I've lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners".

One could simply conclude that this is sour grapes by Chelsea Mitchell, but I feel that she has some grounds to complain.

Compare this with the situation in Formula 1 motor racing. There are limits on the cubic capacity of the engines, the aerodynamic means used to increase grip, and a vast array of other rules to ensure that competition is fair. These rules change all the time, as new technology is introduced by the competing teams. I don't hear people complaining that these rules are discriminatory. Why is a comparable set of rules in athletics viewed by so many as discriminatory?

The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act

Posted on 23rd February 2021

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Sexual Equality).

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has co-signed a bill to prevent transgender people born male from competing against people born female, as reported here, by WLOX.

The Mississippi senate has already approved a state bill to the same effect, although it is not yet approved by the Mississippi House of Representatives.

I already stated my opinion on this matter (here). My reasoning is based on the science; whilst I support the rights of transgender people in general, in sports, females who were born male can have an unfair physical advantage.

I suspect the new bill will not become US Federal law. President Biden signed an executive order mandating that transgender women should be able to compete on female teams in school, so the Biden Administration seems to support transgender athletes.

I suspect that this debate will go on for years, and may become a party-political football.

Are Transgender Sport Competitors Cheating?

Posted on 20th February 2019

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

Martina Navratilova is in trouble for her recent statement about transgender people in sport, as reported by the BBC.

A US LGBT group, Athlete Ally, have severed ties with Ms. Navratilova, an 18-times Grand Slam winner, because of her statement in The Sunday Times, that it was "cheating" to allow transgender women to compete in women's sport as they had unfair physical advantages; "I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.". Athlete Ally branded this as transphobic and perpetuating myths, and based on a false understanding of science and data.

Athlete Ally seem to be confusing political correctness with science. There are basic differences between the physiology of male and female bodies, which are the reason why, in most sports, men and women do not compete directly: men have a wider natural variation in the ratio of different types of muscle than women, and this ratio is more easily affected by training (and even diet), so that men are better able to optimise their bodies for stamina, speed, or strength. Having sex-change surgery does not affect this variability of muscle-type ratios, and hormone treatment only affects this variability very slowly (over years).

So, Ms. Navratilova has the science right; Athlete Ally does not.

I am not sure that I would accuse male-to-female transgender sports competitors of deliberately cheating (a sex-change seems to be too drastic for people to do it just to win at sport), but it is most certainly not fair. The world of sport should take Martina's comments seriously, and address this unfairness. If they don't, people may stop watching some sports.

Sexual Equality Only When Convenient?

Posted on 10th January 2019

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I was disgusted, although not surprised, when I read this piece on the BBC.

The article describes a failed date. The man, a hard-up student, took a woman on a date. Being short of money, he ordered something inexpensive (a beer and pasta carbonara). The woman, on the other hand, ordered a lobster (£28) and an expensive bottle of wine (£70). He, understandably, to my thinking, made her pay for her extravagant meal; he said that he would have happily paid for her meal if she had ordered something more reasonable. She was livid, and in an exchange of messages afterwards (when he was trying to apologise, and make it up to her, by asking her for another, cheaper meal/date) wrote "Gentlemen ALWAYS pay for girl’s food".

Excuse me madam, but this is the age of sexual equality (things are not yet equal for the sexes, but we are {most of us, at least} trying to get there). I assume that she probably wants to be treated equally, especially in the workplace, except for paying for meals and vacations, and having the door held open for her by gentlemen. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

She is behaving as a parasite, pure and simple.

I have similar, but not identical, experiences. A few years ago an ex-girlfriend of one of my friends invited me and my girlfriend to meet her potential new boyfriend, a student, to check him out and give her our opinion. The man was not flush with money, but they did at least discuss the issue of her expectations that he pay for everything versus the reality of his financial situation. He argued strongly that she should pay for the date on that occasion, since she had a real job (actually, two jobs) and he didn't; we agreed with him, and she was not pleased by that.

A few months later she got in touch again, and invited us to meet another potential new boyfriend, this time over dinner. I should point out to those of you who do not live in Germany, that the use of the word invite (einladen) implies that the inviter will pay, but we knew her well enough not to expect that. This candidate was a struggling actor, so also not flush. He made it clear that he was not interested in any relationship that required him to pay for everything. When the meal was over, I paid for my meal, and my girlfriend's, plus enough tip for all 4 of us, and then went to the toilet. The candidate-boyfriend had made it clear that he would not pay (after all, she had invited him), so she had to pay, which she struggled to do (several credit cards were rejected, and one was cut up by the waiter). The thing that really bothered me was that, not only did she expect that guy to pay, but her fall-back was that I would pay, even though she invited us.

I hope that any female readers are getting the message loud and clear: you can't expect to be treated equally when it suits you, and then demand to be treated like helpless damsels when that suits you. Choose one option, and only one, stick with it, and declare it to people you meet, so that they know whether they even want to be friends with you.

I am a fairly generous person. I give good tips in restaurants and taxis (I have a rule that, if I give a small, or no, tip, I must explain why), I lend money to friends (in some cases knowing full well that I will never see that money paid back). I repair things for friends, for free. I hold doors open for women (and men) and sometimes pay for their meals and drinks. I do all this and more because I choose to; no-one is going to tell me that it is required of me. New friends are welcome in my life; parasites are not!

Salma Hayek calls on male stars to be "generous with the actresses"

Posted on 16th May 2018

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I just had to laugh when I read this report from the BBC.

Salma Hayek is telling male movie stars that they should take pay cuts, to improve pay equality between male and female actors. That would be highly laudable, even though the logic is probably flawed, and I have no issue with her motives.

The thing that I found amusing was her statement that "You had a good run but it is time now to be generous with the actresses". If they are going to be generous with the actresses, then I will take four, please.

I suppose that I should be understanding, given that English is not her first language, and I suspect that, had she written the message rather than speaking it, she would have said "to the actresses".