In my time as a writer for Outsports, I’ve seen and written firsthand on how courage is contagious. I’ve also reported how unfounded fears, hysteria and bigotry can spread as well.
But the latest flap over trans women in a competition is over the top.
It was the final of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Assn. Women’s U.S. Snooker Open Aug. 28 in Seattle. Britain’s Jamie Hunter defeated fellow Brit Rebecca Kenna 4-1. The 25-year-old also won the World Billiards Championship the week before.
HUNTER IS THE CHAMPION IN SEATTLE!— World Women’s Snooker (@WomensSnooker) August 29, 2022
Congratulations to @JamieHunter_147 who has defeated @RebeccaKenna89 4-1 to win her first ranking event title at the US Women's Snooker Open at @OxBilliards #WomensSnooker pic.twitter.com/s8j6qlo3yX
Normally an up-and-comer on a hot streak is celebrated. Hunter, being an up-and-comer who is also a trans woman, faced criticism mixed with the cheers. A statement from the “gender critical” anti-trans organization Genspect said Hunter’s victory was because, “transwomen have an advantage over women as they have better reach due to their longer limbs and better spatial ability due to testosterone.”
This last three weeks or so has seen the murky discourse the last three years sink to extreme depths.
As the nation’s school children head back to classrooms, we received news from Utah that a girl who has won a state-level competition this past spring was the target of an official investigation initiated by the complaints of the parents of the girls who finished second and third.
The investigation was prompted by a mandate of a law banning transgender girls from participating in school sports, which passed in March and went into effect July 1. Utah High School Activities Assn. legislative representative David Spatafore told the Deseret News Aug. 17 that his office had received a number complaints about the winner with some of those complaints saying the “female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough.”
The UHSAA, by law, had to search through enrollment records for a current high school student stretching back to kindergarten to determine that the student-athlete was cisgender.
The law itself is another variant of the Alliance Defending Freedom-built cut-and-paste bans that were enacted in nine states so far this year. Some of those laws call for chromosomal testing and invasive, archaic visual genital inspections of students. International sports governing bodies stopped such practices in the 1990s.
A a federal judge delayed implementation of the bill on Aug., because of a lawsuit filed after its passage. There are similar lawsuits pending in five other states.
At the same time, you had some keeping an eagle’s eye on the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School.
Hailey Davidson, a 29-year-old woman of Scotland was was off to a solid start on the weekend. She fell short of the cut to play the final round of Stage I. Her three-over par effort overall was good enough to earn Epson Tour status for 2023.
Davidson is a transgender woman seeking to be first trans golfer to earn a tour card at the highest level. That led to the usual spewing of the clickbait sites and paid professional transphobes.
It even sparked a war or words between two Scottish moms, as tennis superstar Andy Murray’s mom, Judy, cried “not fair at all” on Twitter, and Davidson’s mom responded with, “You do not know my daughter Hailey and most importantly you know absolutely nothing about transgender men or women and therefore have no rights whatsoever to give your opinion on something you know nothing about.”
Someone who agreed with that assessment? Caitlyn Jenner did. Granted, she is someone most transgender people wouldn’t consider a supporter and others would have far worse ways to describe her. But In this case, she supported the golfer’s right to tee off.
Davidson had to go as far as to place a statement on her Instagram to answer the noise, but also to say how far she still need to go to get to where she wants to be.
This year as a reporter I’ve slogged through the Lia Thomas struggle, the UCI vs. Emily Bridges, legislators seeking to rise to power by trampling on trans youth, and so-called feminists joining with those who have stood against women’s rights at every turn.
But unlike Thomas and Bridges, Hunter, the snooker and billiards player, was backed up by the top of their game’s governing body.
“We are classed as a precision sport by the IOC, which we are,” World Professional Billiards and Snooker Assn. chairman Jason Ferguson said to The Mirror newspaper. “We are therefore not too dissimilar from archery or shooting and those kind of sports, even if stamina might at some point be relevant. There is a set number of nanomoles per liter for the testosterone. Athletes self-certify and if questions are raised, and we can request a referral.
“You have to remember that for someone to have even got to that point to move forward in their lives and considering their own gender identity. There is such a lot of process and things they have gone through already,” Ferguson continued. “Weighing that up against these arguments that she shouldn’t be allowed to play in snooker and for us it just doesn’t add up.”
Congrats to Jamie Hunter for becoming the first ever @WomensSnooker US Open Champ— Diana Schuler (@DianaUNLIKE) August 29, 2022
There couldn't have been a better place to win it than in the city of inclusion. Or more precisely: In Capitol Hill, the city’s LGBTQ+ epicenter, where Ox is located ️ #hatewontwin #snooker pic.twitter.com/7PZ5n676Rr
The U.S. Open winner was also bolstered by a large majority of snooker fans across social media who swung up with a vigor that would rival how roller derby participants and fans stand up for their game.
No fans of Snooker. Just a bunch of bullies – who never cared about #WomensSnooker before – showing what kind of ignorant and unpleasant people they are. Sad life.— Marcel Eckardt (@germanref) August 30, 2022
Well done, @JamieHunter_147 ️ https://t.co/54dJnrBAe6
Snooker is not I repeat NOT a gender-affected sport— Phoebe J Rose (@PhoebeJRose) August 30, 2022
This is bigotry 101
This episode at a snooker table for me is as farcical as those who turned anti-trans and surly because a trans woman was a juggernaut on a game show.
It’s also galling, because many cisgender people especially forget that transphobia can blow back on cis women and trans women alike. Consider how such was weaponized against the great Serena Williams throughout her incredible career. Remember the number of times her and Venus were referred to as “men”? A tennis federation president who called them both the “Williams Brothers”?
Davidson said it best on the Trans Sporter Room in May: “It’s sad to say you’re almost not shocked when these things happen. It doesn’t surprise you. It’s like you see them coming.”
The nastiness of the recent weeks was another reminders of how the “concern” some claim is really just a mask for a call for exclusion, and some feel, eradication.