From the Left



Should Trans Women Use Women's Locker Rooms?

Froma Harrop on

To what extent should a transgender woman be treated the same as women who started life as female? That depends.

Let's start with a definition. A trans woman is someone assigned male at birth but who identifies as a woman. There is a transitioning process that can include legal, social and personal changes to live and be recognized as a woman.

Planet Fitness foolishly invited trouble when it decided to let men who identify as women use women's locker rooms. A woman in the dressing room at a club in Alaska took a photo of a trans woman shaving facial hair and posted it on social media. The result was some boycotts of Planet Fitness that have hurt the franchisor's bottom line.

Let's be clear. How transgender men or women choose to dress or call themselves should not be an issue. If someone born as Bill decides "she" would rather go through life as Barbara, that should be "her" decision.

But there are realities. A trans woman can try to erase certain biological facts: There are treatments that reduce muscle mass and change body shape, but none can change the muscle structure from male to female. There are physical differences between males and females that a ballgown cannot change.

Which leads us to the issue of transgender women participating in women's sports competitions.


Tennis player Alicia Rowley was born as Allen Rowley. As a man, Rowley wasn't such a hot shot. As Alicia, Rowley has been amassing victories in tennis competitions for women over 55. Letting trans women take over women's sports is not fair to women born as women with female musculature.

As tennis star Martina Navratilova complained, "Women's tennis is not for failed male athletes."

Then you have Australian surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson, formerly Ryan Egan. Lowerson has been winning major women's surfing competitions. The California Central Coastal Commission recently ruled that the Huntington Beach Longboard Pro could not keep her out of the women's competition.

Lowerson was permitted to enter after the International Surfing Association said transgender women could compete if they met certain criteria for testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone usually higher in males than females but present in both. Do these sports events really want to start measuring hormone levels?


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