top of page

French Friday: Trans Athletes & Good Liberalism


Before recently winning the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle swimming championship, Lia Thomas competed in the sport as a man. Should that matter? David French talks with Skye Jethani about the complexities of transgender rights, and why we need a more nuanced understanding of what “equal protection” means in the law.


Then, French says the real divisions in our culture and politics aren’t primarily between Republicans and Democrats, or between conservatives and progressives, but between a traditional understanding of liberalism and the dangers of illiberalism.


0:00 - Intro 0:48 - Trans athletes “What Do We Do When People Are Equal, But Not Alike?” (David French article) - https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/what-do-we-do-when-people-are-equal?s=r

34:28 - Liberalism and illiberalism 1:02:45 - EndHoly Post Patreon (now with book club!) - patreon.com/holypost





13 Comments


Doug Felton
Doug Felton
Mar 29, 2022

Great episode as always. Loved the discussion on what it means to be liberal. Loved the discussion on what it means to be liberal.

Like

I really enjoyed the conversation about liberalism - it finally clicked for me as to why I have been so uncomfortable in pretty fundamentalist Evangelical Christian spaces - because it tends to push out the vulnerable minority opinion.

I do think applying some of the thinking behind a why it’s important to have a “liberalist” approach to the topics of the day is worth discussing about how we apply our beliefs about trans people. The idea that we don’t know everything and are wise to approach discussions with humility (and even excitement??) that we might learn something new from hearing a different perspective can be brought to bear on the discussion around trans people. Much of my experience with the…


Like

Laura Martin
Laura Martin
Mar 28, 2022

First of all, let's get our facts straight...the idea that Lia is drastically outpacing other women as some supposed proof that trans women have some unfair advantage is questionable at best: https://pinkmantaray.com/LIA . I sure have been hearing a lot of self-assigned biology experts and swimming competition experts weigh in without offering any real data and just expecting people to agree with sweeping generalizations about sex and testosterone and competition records.


Next, I think it's important to remember that not every trans person is trying to live their lives as a political experience. Their existence is not an open invitation to make them a beacon of debate. Maybe they just want to play sports and happen to be trans and…


Like

I really appreciated the conversation on liberalism/illiberalism. Very helpful! As to your conversation on transgender athletes, namely Lia Thomas, my son recently wrote his thoughts that offer a perspective that I believe to be helpful and that I've not read anywhere else. I'd love to hear anyone's feedback on it:


Sporting divisions are all about segregating advantage to promote competitiveness. This most frequently is divided by gender due to the competitiveness gap (something like an excellent high school boy can beat the Olympian women's marathon time?). But some sports segregate in other ways to promote competitiveness- like wrestling with its weight classes. Or racing with standardized car restrictions. Or even the Olympics which preclude professional athletes in some events.


There…


Like
Mark Norman
Mark Norman
Mar 27, 2022
Replying to

This is a well-written and thoughtful piece but let me push on it a bit. I understand no system is perfect, but pure genetic gender divisions disregard or outright denigrate people born with disorders of sex differentiation - such as those with Klinefelter, triple X, and others similar conditions.


Banning these children from competing with their peers is just mean spirited. Why would we do this over something as ultimately unimportant as sports are? I get it, sports are wonderful and I enjoy them but if they never existed, we’d all be just fine.

Like

Mark Norman
Mark Norman
Mar 26, 2022

In the liberalism discussion, David uses two examples to demonstrate how illiberalism exists on both side of the political spectrum. On the 'Right' side, he talks about how multiple state legislatures have banned the teaching of CRT in schools. Then on the 'Left' he gives the example of students at Yale protesting someone speaking at their school. What's the difference you might ask? Well, the first example likely violates the first amendment, which protects the speech of the people from government censorship. In the second instance, private individuals at a private university were voicing their opinions, which of course is a different thing altogether. Beyond just the first amendment considerations, the scope of harm caused by each isn’t even clos…


Like
bottom of page