Lysenko at the Olympics

The XXXII Olympic Summer Games will kick off in Tokyo on July 24. That’s the plan anyhow. With Japan just a seven-hour flight from China’s Wuhan province, concerns have been raised (by a Canadian, Dick Pound of the International Olympic Committee) that, if the coronavirus (COVID-19) isn’t contained by May, the Games should probably be canceled. We’ll see.

But there are other matters of controversy. In particular, I’m thinking about the issue of male-to-female (MtF) transgender athletes. I’ve written about the issue twice before (most recently in “Transjacking” Sports), so I’m not going to rehash the standards the International Olympic Committee and other sporting federations have come up with to determine how men claiming to be women may qualify. Those standards mostly have to do with timing and testosterone.

It’s fair to say that this does not cast as long a shadow over the Tokyo Games as COVID-19 may. There likely will be male-to-female (MtF) competitors at the Games, but there won’t be many.

My concern here is with what “transgenderism” means for society at large, and we can begin with its savage attack on logic because for a man to say he is a woman is absurd; for others to accept the assertion is ridiculous.

Louis XIV’s younger brother, Philippe, Duke of Orléans satisfied his embrace of femininity by dressing up as a woman and fornicating with men, although he was also a warrior, a twice-married man, and the father of five. (Indeed, he is the ancestor of so many later Catholic royals that he’s known as the “grandfather of Europe.”) More recently, however, cross-dressing has become passé with the advent of drugs and surgery and prosthetics. And it’s possible for a man to truly transform his appearance to an extent that wigs, makeup, and falsies never could.

It’s important to mention that the genetics of sex can be complicated, although usually not: boy babies have penises and girls have vaginas; boys are genetically XY and girls are XX. Very occasionally, a child will not have that strictly defined genetic profile. According to the National Intersex Society of North America, this happens in about one of 1,666 births (.0006). South African runner Caster Semenya is one such “intersex” person. She is genitally female but has an anomalous XY gene.

Transgender athletes are different.


As I pointed out in that earlier column, the only athletes asking for the privilege to compete in their adopted “gender” identity are men who say they are women, and each and every one of them is XY and, therefore, genitally (and genetically) male. This means each and every one of them is also a liar because science provides no “remedy” – as if nature requires one – to being born XY.

Plainly restated: XY cannot become XX, which is why transgender activists decry the word “sex” and insist that “gender,” a social construct, should be the preferred term. As Colin M. Wright and Emma N. Hilton wrote recently, “it’s one thing to claim that a man can ‘identify’ as a woman or vice versa. Increasingly we see a dangerous and antiscientific trend toward the outright denial of biological sex.” And we see that trend playing out even in scientific journals with pretensions to objectivity.

In the Soviet Union in the 1920s, a charismatic botanist, Trofim Lysenko, asserted that rye could become wheat, that wheat, in turn, could become barley, and weeds could become grains. This won the Communist Party’s approval, and the result was devastating famine throughout the 1930s. The Party responded by doubling-down, declaring Lysenkoism the only approved approach to Soviet agriculture. Dissenting scientists were forced to recant; some who didn’t were executed and thousands were imprisoned or had their careers ruined.

This is what’s happening today with regard to transgenderism. Tom Wolfe wrote a book, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), about the cultural collision of African-American anger and white guilt – at a chic Manhattan fundraiser for the Black Panther Party and at an anti-poverty office in San Francisco. In this latter regard, Wolfe wrote:

If you were outrageous enough, if you could shake up the bureaucrats so bad that their eyes froze into iceballs and their mouths twisted up into smiles of sheer physical panic, into s**t-eating grins, so to speak – then they knew you were the real goods. They knew you were the right studs to give the poverty grants and community organizing jobs to.

This harkens back to classic Marxist notions of subversion as articulated by Antonio Gramsci: to overcome the “cultural hegemony” of capitalism in the West, it’s necessary to undertake a “long march through the institutions” of culture, essentially seizing them one by one. But the process is merely a precursor to revolution, which becomes easier as culture becomes weaker.

My earlier column was picked up by Save Women’s Sports, a website devoted to keeping MtF athletes out of competition with biological females. But the column has recently disappeared from their site (although a link to TCT still exists on their Facebook page).

As far as I’m able to discern, all women’s sports are feminist, and most feminists are anti-patriarchal, and since their perception of the Church is that it is hyper-patriarchal . . . well, you get the gist. New friends become old enemies.

One of the women commenting on Facebook referred to Jesus as “the big beardy fairy in the sky,” which prompted a male commenter to reply, “God created man. From man, God created woman. End of story. Catholic or not, men are not women and women are not men.” That warranted a sharp rebuke from the page administrator: “this is your one and only warning. Your post . . . is very disrespectful and not necessary. If you continue with this tone, you will be blocked.”

Well, that’s on me, because I’d made reference to the recent document from the Congregation for Catholic Education, “Male and Female He Made Them.”

No good deed will go unpunished.

Brad Miner is the Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing and a Senior Fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His most recent book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. His The Compleat Gentleman is now available in a third, revised edition from Regnery Gateway and is also available in an Audible audio edition (read by Bob Souer). Mr. Miner has served as a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA and also on the Selective Service System draft board in Westchester County, NY.