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Elites 'turn a blind eye' to threats against women
Australian Senator Claire Chandler wins prime ministerial backing for her Save Women's Sport Bill.
Journalists, politicians and officials “turn a blind eye” as women standing up for their rights are met with threats of death, rape and loss of livelihood, according to Australian Senator Claire Chandler.
As keynote speaker at a February 26 forum on Gender Identity in Law, Senator Chandler will say that she and other women have been raising “simple, basic questions about women’s sex-based rights, services and protections that previous generations fought for”.
“Do Australian women and girls have the right to play single-sex sport?,” is one of the legitimate questions being asked, according to a preview of her speech.
“Do you believe a service providing support to women who are victims of male violence or sexual assault should be forced by the law to admit males identifying as women?
“Do you believe a male criminal should be housed in a women’s prison?
“Do you believe that male-sexed people have the right to undress and shower in a communal changing room with teenage girls?”
Senator Chandler, a Liberal Party representative from the state of Tasmania, has been raising concerns about federal officials and activists pushing for the reordering of institutions, including female sport, on the basis of self-declared “gender identity” rather than biological sex. (She has also campaigned for open debate and transparent data about youth gender clinics.)
On February 22, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison endorsed Senator Chandler’s Save Women’s Sport Bill.
“I support it, I think it’s a terrific Bill,” Mr Morrison said in response to a journalist’s question. “Claire is a champion for women’s sport.”
Senator Chandler says the Bill would make it clear that female-only sport is lawful under the federal Sex Discrimination Act. In 2013, with little public debate, “gender identity” was added to the Act as a protected attribute, with a flow-through effect across the federal government.
Senator Chandler’s is a private senator’s Bill, not a government Bill, and she says she would like it debated in the Senate before the federal election, expected to be held in May. The Prime Minister’s office says there will not be a pre-election opportunity for the Bill to be debated.
The federal opposition Labor Party has so far refused to state its position on the Bill.
Under a 2019 transgender inclusion guideline from the federal government agencies Sport Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission, female sport bodies are warned of possible discrimination complaints and financial penalties if they fail to accept biological males who identify as girls and women.
Those agencies will not reveal which groups were consulted and allowed to influence the drafting of the trans inclusion guideline.
In her speech at the Hobart forum on gender identity, Senator Chandler will say that since taking up her campaign, she has “heard the most horrific stories of women being bullied by their employers, their sports governing bodies, their professional associations simply for asserting their own sex-based rights and using accurate sex-based language when talking about women’s rights.
“I’ve seen the death threats. The rape threats. The threats to ruin their lives and have them fired from their jobs and made unemployable.
“And I’ve seen the media, the public service, parliaments and politicians turn a blind eye.”
Trans rights lobby Equality Australia frames the Chandler Bill as the “cruel exclusion” of trans people from sport.
Senator Chandler argues that the legislation protects the integrity of female sport from male-bodied competitors, and “does not seek to ‘ban’ anybody from playing sport”.
She says that since tabling her Bill, she has “yet to hear anyone even attempt to mount an argument that women and girls shouldn’t have the right to play single-sex sport”. Instead, this central issue had been dodged.
“Suggestions that women should sit around and wait for more women and girls to be hurt, intimidated or opt out of sport before addressing the issue are callous and misguided,” she says.
In 2020, World Rugby released research suggesting female players tackled by biological males face a 20-30 per cent higher risk of injury, and that trans players who went through male puberty lose little of their physical advantages after 12 months on drugs to lower their testosterone in line with 2015 International Olympic Committee rules.
In the United States, 16 unnamed members of the University of Pennsylvania swimming team have issued a letter saying they were warned by Penn that if they speak out against the inclusion of trans woman Lia Thomas, a biological male, they will be removed from the team.
Thomas previously competed for the Penn men’s team for three seasons, and was ranked #462 among males in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Now she ranks #1 among the women swimmers.
Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, who helped draft the letter from the 16 team members, says the women are not allowed to express their view that Thomas has an unfair advantage.
“They have been told that if they speak out, they will never get a job again, that corporate America will Google their name and say, ‘Transphobe, we don’t want that’,” Hogshead-Makar told Sirius XM radio.
Thomas began medical transition after gaining the physical advantages of male puberty. Much of this athletic advantage is thought to survive medical transition and hormone suppression. NCAA policy at the time of Thomas’s switch from the male to female team allowed trans women a level of testosterone well above the female range.
British philosopher of sport Jon Pike has suggested a possible solution whereby a new open category, for male- or female-bodied athletes, would sit alongside the traditional protected female category.
Note: My main focus for reporting will be youth gender clinics, but from time to time I will cover other issues involving gender ideology, such as female sport.