Idaho, oasis of sanity

Idaho is one of the few states I never visited, nor even drove through. If I were in the US now, I’d want to correct that oversight, if only to find out what a sane place looks like.

Renée Richards, pioneer of true equality

For Governor Brad Little has just signed into law two bills preventing the few deranged people from imposing their madness on the many sane ones.

One bill prohibits transsexuals from changing the sex listed in their birth certificates. The other bans transsexual athletes from competing in women’s events.

The reason, or rather the pretext, for the first bill is actuarial: the state justifiably insists that it needs to be able to record births accurately. The real reason has to be sanity, which evidently is still extant in Idaho.

Sex, its legislators state implicitly, is determined by chromosomes. It’s an immutable physiological characteristic, like height, fingerprints and colour of eyes. As such, it’s exempt from any exercise of free choice, which faculty has many other arenas for expression.

The other bill reflects basic fairness: men have certain in-built physical advantages that don’t disappear when their genitalia do. That was demonstrated by Richard Raskind, who in 1975 was born again surgically as Renée Richards.

In addition to being an ophthalmologist and the father of a child, Richard-Renée was a strong amateur tennis player, who then insisted on his/her right to compete in professional women’s tournaments. The nearest Richard could have got to professional men’s tennis was to watch it on TV.

Having won a court case, Renée joined the women’s professional circuit at age 43. Over the next few years, Richards parlayed her/his masculine serve into a lucrative Number 20 ranking, which most women on tour, especially the straight ones, found grossly unfair.

This is the kind of iniquity Idaho has now eliminated from amateur sports, those practised under the aegis of schools and universities. As a lifelong champion of equality in all its forms, no matter how perverse, I don’t like the new law – because I can propose a much better one.

Now open to arbitrary choice, sex identity has become so fluid as to be meaningless. If it doesn’t derive from ironclad physiology, it should be eliminated from sports altogether. Since distinctions between men and women are bound to be discriminatory in one way or another, all athletes, regardless of how they identify, should compete together in the same events.

That way, say, women tennis players will be guaranteed equal access to higher prize money, although something in me suggests that’s different from actually earning higher prize money. But high principles shouldn’t depend on high earnings.

In all likelihood, the Idaho law will run foul of a 2018 federal court ruling, making such bans illegal. After all, whatever those hillbillies claim, the primacy of central government over state rights was settled once and for all by the bloodiest conflict in US history, the Civil War.

The federal government can thereby decree any insanity it wishes, and all individual states can do is grin and bear it (the grinning part is optional). Creeping centralisation is of course not unique to the States – this is the vector of all modern politics.

The Idaho legislature will soon be reminded of this fact. Rudely.

P.S. Speaking of government decrees, Boris Johnson has announced that all NHS coronavirus patients are to be put on a diet of nothing but kippers and pancakes. “Because,” explained the prime minister with his contagious chuckle, “they are the only things that can be slid under the door.” Happy April Fool’s Day!

2 thoughts on “Idaho, oasis of sanity”

  1. “the primacy of central government over state rights was settled once and for all by the bloodiest conflict in US history, the Civil War.”

    Actually as is my understanding the argument was settled by The Migratory Bird Act between USA and Canada.

    And Richard Raskin did make for an ugly woman.

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