This opinion piece appeared in the NZ Herald on June 27th 2022 - you can read it here. Shane Te Pou (23 June) reveals himself as another man advocating to undermine fair competition and safety for female athletes under the guise of “inclusion”. Worse he claims ignorance as to the science of physiology and biology of the sexes while also comparing the professionals and experts involved with the FINA decision to the quasi race based science of eugenics. The NZ Herald’s decision to publish this cannot go unchallenged. As a former elite female athlete who represented New Zealand I am more qualified to comment on the subject of male athletic advantage than Mr Te Pou will ever be.
Male athletic advantage begins in the womb and is supercharged by a testosterone based puberty, endowing advantage that cannot be reversed by testosterone suppression later in life. This includes, in general, larger hearts and lungs, greater muscle mass, higher blood oxygenation, skeletal differences, and greater grip strength than comparable female athletes. Women are not small men, we are not men with lower testosterone, we are our own sex. Sports categories are by their very nature exclusionary for reasons of fair and meaningful competition and safety with separation usually done by age, sex, and/or weight. Mr Te Pou is not decrying that 30 year old men are excluded from playing 12 year old boys, nor that heavy weight boxers are excluded from the feather weight category. No, it’s just female athletes that he demands should roll over and make space for the opposite sex. Mr Te Pou claims that FINAs decision not to allow swimmers who have experienced male puberty to compete in elite women’s categories further victimises the most marginalised and oppressed. Let us be clear, a white male Ivy League swimmer born to privilege who could not crack the top 200 when competing in men’s competition but wins a national championship against an silver olympic medalist when“included” in a women’s team is neither marginalised nor oppressed. Nor is a white male weightlifter, child of a multi-millionaire, who displaced a woman of colour from an Olympic spot. All athletes know the benefits that sport provides to peoples’ mental and physical well-being. We all want transgender people to be able to access sport, but it should not be by demanding that women include males in their categories. FINAs intention to progress the creation of an “open” category is a decision to be applauded, not maligned by the uninformed. It is also one that should be followed by Sport NZ in community sport. Instead they seem determined to advocate for any male who says that he “identifies” as a woman to be entitled to play in that category, even without any form of medical transition. As for Mr Te Pou’s appalling comparison of the professionals, scientists and experts involved in analysing the evidence that informed FINAs decision to quasi race based “science” of eugenics and the Holocaust, he owes both them and New Zealand’s Jewish Community an apology.
Candice Riley June 27 2022