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Thursday, July 22, 2004

There's Something Wrong Here 

Hey, did you notice that the Canadian downhill mountain bike championships just took place? The top ten men were separated by 13 seconds. The winner on the women's side, however, was Michelle Dumaresq. The gap between her and the next-best woman? 14 seconds and a Y-chromosome. Some caveats: women's bike fields, and especially downhill racing, are always much less competitive than the men's side. The time gaps get awfully big very fast. But 2-3-4 in the women's race were separated by less than three seconds. Dumaresq has raced some World Cup events too, and she's a top-ten rider on a good day, but not the world champion. So there are women who beat her.

But here's a little photo that sorta kinda suggests to me that not everything masculine about Michelle was removed by surgery. Michelle is 5'9", 170-180 pounds, and as you can see, built rather muscularly.

There are XX women out there who have similar stats. But they're extreme outliers. On the other hand, there are lots of men in this morphological range.

Dumaresq wanted [Edit: this used to read "fought long and hard for," but there really wasn't so much a fight, as scattered protests and a few women who quit racing in disgust] the right to compete as a woman. And well she might: she'd be well out of the top ten in the men's race. But one must ask why we have a women's race, if not because of the in-born differences between men and women. True, Dumaresq has taken enough estrogen that it's a major reason why she can't cut it with the boys, but I think that's her problem, and the right solution doesn't seem to be throwing her in with the women.

I think this is a case where common sense is not being allowed to run its course. The potential mess is that if one or more transgendered athletes start dominating their sports, there will be a discouraging effect for female athletes. It's just a silly tiff effecting Canadian mountain biking right now (though Dumaresq has won a berth in the World Championships via this win), but wait until the first transgendered golfer or tennis player appears. That will be . . . interesting.

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