Our Infinite Variety

The Guardian reports today that "the former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has been criticised for disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic comments after she argued that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting tournaments was “insane and cheating”.

I have no idea why lesbians should feel hatred towards trans-women but many of them do. My guess is that it will have something to do with insecurity concerning their own gender ambiguity.

People need everything to be either/or; they need to be either/or themselves. Being both or neither is scary as it expels you from the ordinary which often leads to exile or attack. This means that outsiders, no less than insiders, strive to convince society that, although they may appear or act differently to the norm, they belong to a group accepted as normal by society. They want to be either/or not both or neither.

Lesbians do not conform to society's either/or definition of "women" and trans-women are even more removed from what society considers as normal. Personally, I believe that normal is overrated. In fact, it may not even exist. Life is not binary, it is infinitely complicated. We should embrace and celebrate this, not rebel against it. Trans-women, even after hormonal adjustment and surgery are not the same as people born as women. Lesbians are not the same as straight women. Gender and sexuality, both mentally and physically, are so fluid and non-binary that the truth is that there is no "same as" between any of us. We are all abnormal and we need to accept this.

Sporting organisations need to accept this. They need to come up with ways to decide who can compete against each other that are not based on binary male or female categories. Perhaps those in charge of able-bodied sports could learn a lot from the Paralympic movement about how to cope with life's infinite variety. We all could do our bit by accepting who we are and, just as importantly, who we are not.

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