Riley vs Te Pou on women’s sports

Candice Riley writes:

Shane Te Pou (23 June) reveals himself as another man advocating to undermine fair competition and safety for female athletes under the guise of “inclusion”. Worse he claims ignorance as to the science of physiology and biology of the sexes while also comparing the professionals and experts involved with the FINA decision to the quasi race based science of eugenics.

The NZ Herald’s decision to publish cannot go unchallenged. As a former elite female athlete represented New Zealand I am more qualified to comment on the subject of male athletic advantage than Mr Te Pou will ever be.

Candice Riley has represented NZ globally in rowing.

Male athletic advantage begins in the womb and is supercharged by a testosterone based puberty, endowing advantage that cannot be reversed by testosterone suppression later in life. includes, in general, larger hearts and lungs, greater muscle mass, higher blood oxygenation, skeletal differences, and greater grip strength than comparable female athletes. are not small men, we are not men with lower testosterone, we are our own sex.

The last sentence is well made.

Sports categories are by their very nature exclusionary for reasons of fair and meaningful competition and safety with separation usually done by age, sex, and/or weight. Mr Te Pou is not decrying that 30 year old men are excluded from playing 12 year old boys, nor that heavy weight boxers are excluded from the feather weight category. No, it’s just female athletes that he demands should roll over and make space for the opposite sex.

You can have inclusivity or you can have fairness – you can’t have both.

Mr Te Pou claims that FINAs decision not to allow swimmers have experienced male puberty to compete in elite ’s categories further victimises the most marginalised and oppressed. Let us be clear, a white male Ivy League swimmer born to privilege could not crack the 200 when competing in men’s competition but wins a championship against an silver olympic medalist when“included” in a women’s team is neither marginalised nor oppressed. Nor is a white male weightlifter, child of a multi-millionaire, who displaced a woman of colour from an Olympic spot. All athletes know the benefits that sport provides to peoples’ mental and physical well-being. We all want transgender people to be able to access sport, but it should not be by demanding that women include males in their categories.

FINAs intention to progress the creation of an “open” category is a decision to be applauded, not maligned by the uninformed.

An open category seems sensible.

 It is also one that should be followed by Sport NZ in community sport.

Here I disagree. I think at elite levels you need to ensure fairness, but I think at community (and definitely school) levels the priority should be inclusion.

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