“Rights are not like pie,” some are fond of saying when discussing transgender activists’ demands. “When someone gets them, they aren’t taken away from someone else.”
This is an argument borrowed from the gay marriage debate in which, indeed, gay people marrying each other does not prevent straight people from also marrying each other.
And it’s a good argument that I fully support. Rights are not like pie.
In fact, if you find that something you want is like pie, and is depriving someone else of that same thing, that’s a good sign that what you’re seeking is not a right. It’s simply a desire.
Actual rights, including those to which transgender people are entitled, are not like pie. The right to freedom from discrimination in hiring and employment, for example, can exist peacefully alongside others’ right to freedom from discrimination in hiring and employment. Similarly, the right to freedom from violence can be extended to all groups, without one group losing that right as another gains it.
However, some things are like pie.
Sports awards and positions are like pie. When one person gets first place in a competition, all the other competitors are denied that award. And when a male-bodied person is awarded first place, female-bodied people, by definition, are not.
Female sports teams and competitions were created to give females the opportunity to excel in sports. Before the creation of female sports, females didn’t have these opportunities. This is both because they weren’t allowed to compete against males and because they wouldn’t have succeeded in competing with males due to physical differences between the sexes.
The creation of female sports allowed all females to develop physical strength, confidence and personal growth in a safe and appropriately challenging environment. It additionally allowed those with special acumen to have a chance at winning awards. Before female sports were created, females had neither of these opportunities. That’s why Title IX included sports–because developing physical strength, confidence and personal growth was seen as a part of a well-rounded education. And the opportunity to win awards was seen as unlocking opportunities, such as scholarships, previously denied to females.
So the question in this situation becomes not one of rights, but of who gets the pie. Traditionally in our history, males got all the pie all the time. Title IX was designed to even that playing field a bit. To make some pie available for females.
So the question of including transgender males in female sports is a question of who gets the pie. Perhaps some would like to take the pie from females and give it to transgender males, because the latter is downtrodden or oppressed. But make no mistake, it’s like pie. If it grants privileges to one group at the expense of the other, it’s not a right.
The same can be said for positions reserved for women and employment quotas. More males in these positions equals less females in these positions.
Including males in situations like these brings us closer to the situation that existed before these concessions were made to females, when men could use their physical strength and dominant social positions to push women out of opportunities.
If it’s like pie, it’s not a right.
There’s an old saying that “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” That brings us to another situation that’s like pie. Both people don’t walk away from a nose-punching situation with their rights intact. The person who gets punched in the nose loses. The person who swings wins.
One of the privileges sought after by transgender males is the opportunity to enter women’s restrooms, gyms, prisons, and other spaces. Notably, they don’t want their own spaces, because that would be conspicuous or invalidating. The presence and participation of other human beings–females–is required for implementing the only scenario they find acceptable.
That’s where it gets tricky. Other human beings have rights. Yours end where theirs begin.
There are some females who do not want to undress or deal with private bodily functions in the presence of males. Victims of sexual violence and religious women are often mentioned, but really, lots and lots of women don’t want to do this. I’ve heard from teenage girls who are mortified to crinkle a tampon wrapper in the presence of a clueless male classmate. I’ve heard from women whose periods are so heavy they must go to the sink with blood on their hands. I’ve heard from a woman who miscarried in a public restroom.
And when transgender males get what they want (to perform bodily functions and undress in the presence of females), females lose what they want (to perform bodily functions and undress away from males). And as the more physically vulnerable group in terms of size and reproductive function, to say nothing of social disadvantage, females have more to lose here.
This is especially true in the military and in prison, where women don’t have the option to simply stay out of Target or skip showering. It’s like pie. Either females get privacy or males get validation.
But it’s more important than pie, because it’s consent. An individual’s rights never include the coercion of other parties.
Females getting what they want in this situation, which is privacy, wouldn’t stop males from getting privacy. There are options that allow both groups to get privacy. That’s a good sign it’s a right.
But males getting what they want in this situation–the presence of unwilling females in their presence as they do their private business–does impede upon the rights of the unwilling females.
Transgender males must have the right to pee in public facilities. They must have the right to pee in privacy. But they are not entitled to the privilege of peeing alongside other human beings who do not share their wish for comradery.
That’s a desire, not a right.