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This Is Your Brain on Transphobia
Hating trans people turns your mind into goo. Case in point: what's happening in the world of chess.
It’s clear by now that obsessive transphobia turns the human brain into the kind of pink goo that Mr. Burns once tried to market on The Simpsons. People start out as vaguely coherent members of society and wind up with their cerebral matter leaking out of their ears and forming a sloshy pool on the floor while they rant on.
Transphobia makes you do very dumb things, is what I’m trying to say. Case in point: everything that has happened over the past week in the world of chess.
Yes, that chess, the one where you’d better not call it a “castle” or a Chess Guy will go “uhhh it’s actually a ROOK.” I kid, I kid, chess is a noble game, a land of contrasts, etc. We all love chess! Apparently, though, chess does not love all of us back.
The International Chess Federation, known as FIDE, will effectively stop allowing transgender women from participating in women's competitions until "further analysis" can be made — which could take up to two years.
The organization will also remove some titles won by players who won in women's categories and later transitioned to male. It will also remove some titles won by transgender men. The new policies are slated to go into effect on Monday.
Monday? Hey, that’s today. Happy Transphobic Chess Day, everyone! Let’s all put a poster of Bobby Fischer saying “WHAT IS A WOMAN?” in our windows. Personally, this was the first time I had discovered that there was such a thing called the International Chess Federation. But there is, and it’s obvious that FIDE has been infected with a serious case of Transphobia Brain.
So what’s going on here? Well, it seems that in the chess world, there are events where people of any gender can compete, and then there are events where only women can compete.And FIDE is now saying that if you are a trans person and want to compete in an event that corresponds with your gender identity, it’s not gonna happen! Well, not until the big brains at Chess HQ complete some “analysis” of you.
Why? Beats me. Seriously, if you read the regulations FIDE put out, you will not find any real explanation of why this is happening. You do get very weird shit like this:
Part of the problem is that this reads like some French people put their thoughts through Google Translate and didn’t bother to clean them up, but whatever. It’s all…very strange, and quite obviously sexist. Why are we doing single-gender chess in the first place? Isn’t the obvious implication here that the female chess brain is hopeless when put up against the male chess brain? Does FIDE think that all the gals down at the chess club turn into gibbering idiots when forced to go up against their manly counterparts? Sure seems like it!
This ban is so dumb that a lot of national chess associations are coming out to say “This is really dumb, we’re not going to follow these dumb rules.”
But wait, cry the transphobes. This is just about the fact that chess is a sexist world, so women’s tournaments need to be protected.
Now, chess is absolutely a sexist world. It is dominated by men, and there has been a lot of reporting about the levels of misogyny and sexual abuse in chess. If women want to preserve women-only zones in chess, who am I to say they shouldn’t? But there is no reason to exclude trans women from those spaces unless you accept the idea that they are all rapist monsters who will use their access to the chess world to fulfill their evil desires—or that they will have an automatic advantage due to the particular chemistry of their brains.
Let’s set aside the “trans women will attack all of the cis women on sight” blah blah for a second because it’s just obvious bigoted drivel. The problem for the transphobes is that, as much as some of them insist that their opposition has “nothing to do with ability or brain size” and is only about “defending a female-only category because women remain a minority in chess,” too many of them keep letting the mask slip.
Here, for instance, is part of a tweet thread from a “former competitive chess player” that has been retweeted by a lot of the transphobe brigade.
In other words, is it possible that cis women’s brains are just too itty-bitty and weak to compete with men? Yeah, it’s possible, though “speculation in that area is, shall we say, unprofitable.” (Then maybe don’t speculate, my guy.)
And here is Debbie Hayton, who says she is a trans chess player herself, driving the point home in Unherd:
But why are women under-represented in chess? It’s hardly the fault of society if the same pattern emerges consistently across the world. Hou Yifan is the tenth best Chinese player. Koneru Humpy — the highest ranked woman from India — is 28th overall. Meanwhile, Irina Krush is the best female chess player from the US, with 116 American men ranking above her.
The truth is that human beings are part of nature. Men and women evolved different bodies and we have also evolved different psychologies. It’s possible that evolution has left men with an innate advantage in chess.
And there you have it. Sorry, ladies, if you’d wanted to be better at chess you should have been men. Luckily Big Chess and its cretinous outriders are here to protect you from Trans Godzilla coming in and stomping all over your fragile womanly skills.
OK, here is the serious point bit. What this chess brouhaha makes crystal clear—not that it wasn’t before, but boy does it drive the point home—is that transphobia is not just harmful to trans women. It’s harmful to all women—and all men, and everyone else—because, at its core, it is predicated on upholding the kind of pathetic sexist tosh that says Women Are Like This and Men Are Like This and none of that can ever change.
The only people who benefit from any of that are the upholders of the patriarchal status quo—you know, the status quo that the transphobes claim to be very interested in dismantling. It’s wild that these people can’t, or won’t, see that anything that breaks down the rigid gender divisions that have defined our society is a threat to patriarchy. Instead, their hatred has pushed them into such an ideological corner that they’re now co-signing the most obviously sexist theories about female biology—and saying they are defenders of women in the process. The mind reels.
This, kids, is your brain on transphobia. Don’t let it happen to you.