Leading article Australia

To go woke or to win?

25 June 2022

9:00 AM

25 June 2022

9:00 AM

In a rare outbreak of common sense, one of the world’s international sporting bodies this week decided to ban ‘transgender female’ (meaning ‘biological male’ – a classic contemporary example of Orwellian, inverted Newspeak) athletes from competing in female sports. It’s a much-welcomed decision and suggests that perhaps we have hit Peak Woke and now some sanity might return to this vexed topic. Of course, the decision by FINA, la Fédération Internationale De Natation, comes with one unusual string attached, but it certainly is a major step towards correcting the imbalance that over the past few years has seen the ludicrous spectacle of ribbed, athletic male torsos complete with bulging male genitalia strutting around female changing rooms and – more significantly – clambering onto the female podiums of sports competitions around the world. It is probably not coincidental that it was the sport of swimming that finally tackled (pun intended) this absurdity, given the prominence and medals success of American transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in recent months. It was inevitable that eventually top female athletes would start to question what was more important – to be ‘woke’ or to win?

The string, or perhaps compromise, attached to the ruling is that if a boy transitions to a girl before the age of 12, that person is permitted to then participate in female sports at the highest levels. This is built on a number of dangerous assumptions, which will be exploited by the militant transgender movement in all sorts of unimaginable but likely horrific ways. As has already been documented in America, there are parents who gleefully boast of and enjoy transitioning their own children, some as young as four. That these cases may involve celebrity status for the child and media interviews and glamorous celebrity endorsements for the parents as well is obviously entirely coincidental.

So now we have an official benchmark for when it is ‘scientifically’ acceptable (and imperative) to transition a child. Pity the poor eleven-year-old boy who loves swimming but is confused about his sexuality (what child isn’t?) and blessed with an overambitious mother or father.


The sensible compromise in the FINA ruling is for a third category for transgender athletes. This was always the recommendation of those here in Australia such as Liberal senator for Tasmania Claire Chandler and the failed Liberal candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves. Both these women have bravely battled for several years to ‘save women’s sports’ from the transgender onslaught. The FINA ruling is not only a clear vindication of their arguments and activism, but is an unambiguous slap in the face and rebuke to all those who were so determined to demean and belittle both these brave feminists.

In particular, the ‘moderate Liberals’ stand, yet again, condemned. All those who went out of their way to attempt to have Katherine Deves disendorsed should hang their heads in shame, including NSW Treasurer Matt Kean and the failed moderates of the Liberal party (too numerous to all be named) who deservedly lost their seats at the election.

And a final twist in the tale. In the dying days of his less-than-impressive prime ministerial career Scott Morrison, for whatever Machiavellian reasons, finally identified a battleground in the culture wars that he was prepared to actually set foot on. Whether intentionally or not, by choosing as the candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves, an outspoken activist for women and women’s sports, and then (vaguely) supporting her when the going got tough, Mr Morrison did the honourable and correct thing. But being a focus-group, conviction-free pollie by nature, Mr Morrison then swiftly retreated and allowed this outstanding candidate to be silenced and cancelled by the party machine.

The irony? Had Mr Morrison followed his initial instincts there is every chance, as we postulated on this page, that the question of transgenderism on the sports field, in changing rooms and in girl’s toilets could have dominated the entire election campaign as the electorate are overwhelmingly on the side of the FINA decision. In such a situation Mr Morrison and his team could have wedged Labor and the Greens and may well have scraped back into power. Instead, as we know, the electorate rarely rewards cultural cowardice.

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