What did we hear over and over again when Joe Biden was declared the Democrats' official candidate for president? That we could all relax because he was the "moderate" choice, the anti-Sanders candidate, who wouldn't kowtow to the party extremists, but would honour the middle ground occupied by the majority of Americans.
And what were we told about Kamala Harris when she was chosen as the first female, not to mention the first female of colour, as Vice President? That this was a huge victory for feminists, because, being so close to the president, she would have his ear on issues and policies that involved women's rights and interests. "This is what breaking the glass ceiling looks like," announced an ebullient Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Well, those two bubbles didn't take long to burst, did they.
One of Biden's very first acts as president was to sign a directive, "Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, which basically hands over to transwomen—males who identify as female—the right to colonize women's single-sex spaces in sport and health services. Collegiate sports risk losing Title IX funding if they do not open women's sport, including access to private spaces like locker rooms and showers, to include males who identify as women.
The administration is leaning on a legal precedent: the "Bostock Executive Order," according to which the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled last year that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's Title VII prohibition on sexual discrimination includes discrimination in hiring based in both sexual orientation and gender identity—as differentiated from biological sex.
There are two things wrong with adducing this precedent. First, as Abigail Shrier points out in an eloquent op ed on the Biden directive in the weekend Wall Street Journal, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the decision, "took pains to clarify that the decision was limited to employment and had no bearing on 'sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms and dress codes'—all regulated under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments." The second is that in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was enacted, the concept of "gender identity" was not even a blip on society's radar screen. To read in the concept 56 years later is preposterous.
What will this directive mean for women's sport? Shrier quotes Linda Blade, a former elite track and field star-turned-coach for high performance athletes and head of Athletics Alberta, who has written on this subject in these pages. Blade said that the order will effectively kill off women's sport. "The leadership skills, all the benefits society gets from letting girls have their protected category so that competition can be fair, all the advances of women's rights—that's going to be diminished."
How could all these advances not be diminished?
Between elite female and elite male athletes, there is a minimum of a 10-12 percent gap in achievement that in certain sports can spread to a 30-40 percent gap. Lowering testosterone does not eliminate the gap. These facts are well-known, well-documented and easily comprehended by all non-ideological men and women, which is to say about 99 percent of people who are interested in sport.
You might therefore think that sport associations—for example, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport here in Canada—would understand the burden of proof to be upon them when they issue guidelines that allow—no, encourage—biological males to feel it is both fair and reasonable for them to compete against women, even without hormonal treatment or any commitment to permanent transition. But they offer no proof of anything. They set out unscientific theories as received wisdom, waving off as transphobia all scientific and statistical evidence that proves them wrong.
Why did the Biden-Harris team consider this issue so important that it leaped to the head of the queue and warranted an executive order? Particularly given the Democrats' narrow margins in the House and Senate?
My opinion is that this directive was a bone thrown to the Democrats' far-left, gender-obsessed wing, to tranquillize them for a while so the Biden Harris administration could concentrate on pursuing the issues they actually consider important. In other words, I believe they consider this nod to the trans activists a freebie, of no consequence, of purely symbolic value, merely to say, "Hey, far-lefties, we love you and we want you to be happy. Here, take this and please shut up while the grown-ups get back to work."
Does anybody really believe that during the transition period, when the rollout of executive action for the first days of office was being drawn up, anyone advising the president-elect ever said something like, "You know Joe, I think before we throw this spanner into the Title IX works, maybe we should put a task force to work on an impact study regarding the easy entry of biological males into women's sport? Like to see if it's actually gonna be a BFD for women? You aced the women's vote, Joe. They have daughters. The daughters are in sports. Nobody likes to see cheating in sports, Joe. Especially parents of innocent athletes. Just saying."
Or perhaps said "I mean, I understand there's a lot of passionate debate on this issue. Seems that World Rugby updated their guidelines to exclude biological males from competing in the Women's Division, because their extensive research concluded there was a serious risk to women's safety playing against male bodies. I dunno, I mean of course it looks all compassionate and inclusive, yeah, for Sandy and the rest of the Squad, but how's it gonna look for us if some woman gets seriously hurt or even dies on our watch? How's it gonna look to our moderate base if a bunch of gold medals at the next Olympics go to bio-males? Bad optics. And if that happens, we're gonna have to own that, Joe. Just saying."
And where was Kamala Harris in all this? What's so exciting about getting a woman as VP if women's rights aren't the first thing on her mind when a gender issue arises? There are plenty of feminists who have drunk the trans activist Kool-Aid on the sport issue, I know, but they aren't a heartbeat away from being the most powerful woman on earth. Kamala had a duty of special care to put her actual mind to this issue before she let Joe sign that directive. And she chose not to.
Joe is old, and many believe he's lost his cognitive edge. I am not surprised Joe did not interrogate the alleged wisdom of rushing the gun on this directive. But et tu, Kamala? Kamala's many flip-flops en route to the White House, it seems, were prelude and a warning that once ensconced in power, she would likely choose the pantsuit that looked good on Kamala over protection of women's rights. So who's the real Old Boy in this scenario?