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Port: The transgender sports issue is a debate North Dakota needs

The perfect solution is to get the financial and social burden of sports out of the schools and into private organizations where an issue like this can be settled without the need for legislative intervention. Since that's a pipe dream in our sports-obsessed society, some iteration of Rep. Ben Koppelman's bill may be needed to find a balance we can all live with.

Rob Port column sig
Rob Port

MINOT, N.D. — We segregate athletics by gender.

If we didn't, most girls would have a tough time competing.

Gender is now considered a fluid thing by many. That means a person with all the typical physical advantages of being male could identify as female and compete with a significant advantage.

According to certain political doctrines, you're not allowed to think that's unfair.

As author J.K. Rowling has learned, it's the sort of thing that might get your books burned . People like Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood couldn't even defend Rowling's right to make that argument (if not the argument itself) without getting attacked.

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When Rep. Ben Koppelman , R-West Fargo, introduced House Bill 1298 , it got noticed .

The legislation would prohibit transgendered athletes from competing on state-sponsored sports teams that are exclusively for males or females. It would also prohibit the use of any state facility for an athletic event where that sort of thing is allowed.

This proposal has resulted in the usual cries of bigotry, etc., etc.

I am sympathetic to people who feel their biological gender isn't the right one.

I am also sympathetic to the hard feelings many young women must feel when they invest time and sweat into training only to lose to a woman who, but for how they interpret their gender, would be competing against men.

Nobody, we're told, would choose to identify as a woman just to get an advantage.

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That argument is ignorant of what people will do to win.

Sports leagues around the world are grappling with elaborate, and often illegal and dangerous, doping schemes that give athletes an edge.

Zooming out from gender a bit, white U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren chose to identify as Native American for decades while working in academia where things like race and gender can give you a leg up.

Rachel Dolezal is a white, female professor who chose to identify as Black.

Hilaria Baldwin, an "influencer" who is most famous for being married to actor Alec Baldwin, is a white woman choosing to identify as Hispanic because her family vacations in Spain .

Race is something as fundamental to who we are as gender, and we have many examples of people creatively interpret their racial identity to gain an advantage in society.

Is it unreasonable to believe that a man might choose to identify as a woman to win competitions? Especially when something as valuable as a scholarship might be on the line?

The perfect solution is to get the financial and social burden of sports out of the schools and into private organizations where an issue like this can be settled without the need for legislative intervention.

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Since that's a pipe dream in our sports-obsessed society, some iteration of Koppelman's bill may be needed to find a balance we can all live with.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

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