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Fairness & Transgender Athletes I: Marking the Course

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Upon taking office, Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring that schools receiving federal funding allow people who self-identify as females onto female sport’s teams. Pushback against it has ranged from thoughtful considerations of fairness to misogyny masquerading as morality. In addition to being complicated in its own right, the fairness of self-identified females being allowed to compete as females is also linked to other complicated matters, such as broader concerns of fairness in society and issues of gender identity. People arguing in good faith can make arguments in one area without realizing the implications of these arguments in other areas. To illustrate, consider the fictional character of Polly. Polly is a national level high school runner who holds to a principle of fairness. Polly’s brother, Paul, is faster than Polly but not a national level male runner. He jokingly suggests putting on a dress and beating Polly, which worries her—if a person can self-identify as a female, Paul could do that and suddenly be a national level female high school runner. In a panic, Polly thinks of her nightmare scenario: the top male runners compete as boys, switch identities, and win again as girls! Polly and her sister runners would be out of the competition, which would be unfair. In good faith, Polly can make a very good argument moral argument against allowing this based on fairness—but her seemingly reasonable argument might justifying harming people in the broader context of fairness in society—something Polly would not want. As such, we should be careful to consider the implications arguments about fairness in sports have in other areas. People can also in bad faith, presenting an appealing fairness argument in the context of sports while not caring about fairness at all. Their intent might be to use the sports issue argument as a Trojan horse to lure people into their ideological agenda or they might want to weaponize the seemingly reasonable argument in. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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