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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

“The baffling, unnecessary decision by the International Chess Federation to bar trans women from competing in women’s chess tournaments”

As your post acknowledges the really baffling thing is segregating Chess by sex. Once that has occurred, barring genetic males from the female division is not exactly “baffling” but its certainly as idiotic as the whole system. And definitely hateful. However, the push really needs to be to get rid of sex based differentiation in this activity. My take has always been that because sports are sex segregated, it makes sense to bar genetic males ( anyone with at least one Y chromosome) from female divisions). But only at highly competitive levels. Otherwise there’s not enough at stake to cause harm to trans women by banning them. Grade school sports and intramurals should permit trans girls/women to play on female teams.

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Having been a chess federation member and taking part in many tournaments, I can tell you that the number of female participants is minimal at best. If you eliminate the women's chess tournaments then you may as well forget about encouraging the participation of women in chess. The field is so dominated by men (for whatever reason) that it's sad.

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founding

Good points. There are also women's events in bridge, poker, and backgammon (at least there were 25 years ago). The intent is create a more welcoming environment for women. IMO, that is a good thing, and it does not imply that women are inferior.

My take is that at top levels of non-athletic activities which are not spectator events, there is little benefit to having women's only competitions, but at levels where people are making the transtion from playing socially to a more serious amateur competitive level it is good to have events that are only open to women.

Poker is different though. For a female player the attempts by some male players to play a loose-aggressive style against them is a gift. When I played poker online I used a female screen name in an attempt to induce such behavior.

But move on transgender people in chess seems to me goofy at best, but really just mean.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

I did not read it as mean, just logically consistent. The Chess Federation isn't banning or restricting anyone. They are just requiring picking a lane. Play as a man or play as a woman, but your ranking (win loss record) stays within the gender category (ie there is no combined male/female record). They didn't even restrict jumping back and forth, just retaining segregated records. Seems reasonable unless they drop gender and merge the two groups. Particularly if there are fewer top tier players in one class or the other.

I would also note that in social play men and women may like to play in gendered groups due to the differences in play and socialization. So many activities have male, female, and co-ed groups to accommodate the different social desires.

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founding

The way I read it, Marc, is that the Chess Federation is not allowing people to “pick a lane.” They are not allowing transgender women to play in, or “pick,” as you say, the women lane.

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Would you say that Chess Federation's imposition of "male" and "female" is an essential flaw?

(And I promise this is a real question. Not a trap)

if win/loss records were not so important in chess it seems like this would be a simpler issue?

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founding

I don’t know if separating chess competition into “male” and “female” categories is a flaw. I used to go to tournaments with my children when they were in their early teens. I even had a U.S. Chess rating, and all the tournaments I went to with them had both men and women competing in them. As I said to Pete in another thread, I see this issue as a lot simpler. To me, the issue involves value choices as to social interaction, and how we, as a society and culture, are going to respond to transgender people. To me, if you live 24/7 as a man, our society and culture should accept you as a man, and if you live 24/7 as a woman, our society and culture should accept you as a woman. It’s as simple as that. While that might create situations where a person has a genetic advantage over others in a particular sport or activity, our society and culture routinely accept as fair the genetic advantages that certain people have in sports or other activities. For example, no one says it’s unfair for tall people, who have an undeniable advantage in basketball, to play basketball at the highest competitive levels and to earn the money that comes from that.

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founding

Thank you for that. I did not know you had played chess. I am interested in your perspective on the following:

* Women only events for bridge, poker, etc which are mostly amateur players and the intent is to make the activity more inviting to women in an activity that is super-majority male. Of course, women can and do participate in open events as well.

* Spectator sports, like pro basketball, where there is the WNBA. I presume the intent is to attract more interest in the sport by having something that will appeal to female fans.

I have long believed that both of the above had good effects and did no harm, but that is not so clear with how Chess is reacting to the trans issue. What I failed to account for in my earlier post was that rankings matter a great deal to many chess players, so there has to be a way to decide which matches count toward a ranking and which ones don't.

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if I recall correctly (a big if): Comic books: 12 cents each, so 48 cents. Candy bars: 5 & 10 cents each; I chose the cheaper ones, so 15 cents. Topps baseball cards (5/pack plus the slab of so-called gum): 5 cents each, so 10 cents. Fritos: 10 cents. 7-ounce Hires root beer (if I returned the previous bottle and applied the refunded deposit to the new bottle): 7 cents. Just 90 cents. But my allowance in 1961 was 50 cents, with 10 cents deducted for Sunday School offering and 10 cents for savings, and Dad was the pastor so I couldn't shoplift. Sigh. (That local market still stands. Now it's a cannabis store. And who stole the cent symbol from the keyboards of America??)

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¢ (option+4 on a Mac)

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Any complaints about sex in chess should have been voiced decades ago, like Judit Polgar did. And the only way to deal with it and not to seem bigoted is to eliminate men’s and women’s recognition and be open. But I don’t remember you calling anyone a bigot in chess until now. The current push by males who transition to play alongside women wants it both ways: keep the female tournaments but let males who choose identity as women play in them. Maybe that conflict is what is opening people’s eyes to the issue with f separate sex classes in chess.

PS there are good reasons for separate tournaments currently, at a high level, but that’s for another comment.

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author

I wrote about it 25 years ago and touched on it last year https://ericzorn.substack.com/i/74132230/worlds-smartest-person-calls-womens-chess-inherently-damaging Very interested in why you think the sexes should be separate in chess contests at the highest level.

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This (yours and Vos Savant’s) is a coherent view of chess and sex. But maintaining separate classes and having males who identify as women choose which to play in isn’t really coherent. That’s what I meant by choosing identity. The league you play in can’t be a choice.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

You said "Separate competitive categories for women outside of athletics ought to be permissible only for limited times when women are first entering a field long dominated by men."

I agree. That leads to the question of when do women only events become not permissible once they have started having them? Who gets to decide? In something decentralized, like backgammon, each host of tournaments gets to decide what events they will have.

With Chess the rubber hits the road with rankings. Which non-open events can count toward a ranking, and for whom will they count?

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founding

There is no such thing as males “choosing to identify” as women. Transgender people don’t choose to be transgender any more than gay people choose to be gay. I don’t say this to be pedantic, but there are ill consequences of the belief that trans people choose to transition, for sports or for some other reason. The best current explanation of the etiology of being transgender that I have come across are TED talks by Karissa Sanbonmatsu, which suggest that transgender people are, in a sense, biologically the sex to which they transition. I included a link to one of her talks.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HLEgiR1Fsds&pp=ygUda2FyaXNzYSBzYW5ib25tYXRzdSA1IHNlY29uZHM%3D

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I personally know guys who identify both ways at different times. Call it a choice or a mood or whatever, it’s not always a fixed thing.

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founding

There are lots of males who cross-dress and go out as women from time to time. I know many people like that as well. But even for them, it is not a “choice.” It is something they were born with. The current theory is that their gender dysphoria is much less pronounced and debilitating than it is in people who transition on a 24/7 basis, and that, for people whose gender dysphoria is much less pronounced and debilitating, they can assuage their gender dysphoria by going out as the opposite sex from time to time. Did you watch the TED talk?

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Which chess tournament should your cross-dressing friends participate in?

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founding

I think if you live your life as a man with the exception of going out as a woman a couple of times a month, if you go to work every day as a man, you should probably participate in gendered activities as a man.

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I haven’t watched that talk yet. I’ll put it in my queue. I do follow trans science pretty actively and also personally.

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Aug 24, 2023Liked by Eric Zorn

I mean chickens are birds, which are the last vestiges of dinosaurs. So shouldn't it be chickens are re-taking over the planet?

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Sorry to pile on, but ... Buckingham Fountain. Every summer night lots of people (100?) show up to take pictures and enjoy the spray and light show. Weekends bring the bridal parties and quinceañeras for photographs. People are voting for the fountain with their photos.

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Ditto the Crown Fountain which I guess is part of the Millennium Park experience.

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I got a chuckle out of "A stiff drink at Ceres Cafe" as a Chicago experience. My husband was a trader, and I am sure there were many stiff drinks on bad days. A trip to the CBOT was one of the top requests made by visiting friends and rellies. Alas, no more.

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Thanks, JoanP! Will seek a related solution on my Android phone and my Windows PC.

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Why separate sex classes for elite chess is reasonable:

1) it is currently understood that there are cognitive differences between the sexes, and spatial cognition is the most well-recognized instance. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-31704-y#

2) chess is a highly spatial mental game, vs poker or bridge, which require memory and mind-reading.

3) small differences in the population means of naturally distributed traits produce dramatic population differences at high thresholds.

A small difference of means leads to 10-1 or 100-1 ratios at the extremes of the curves.

4) competitive chess, even at the club level, is at a high threshold; high enough to expect multiple men for each women. Prize-money chess is insanely high threshold, where we would expect, and see, 100 to 1 ratios of men to women.

5) IF women want to compete for prizes with some expectation of winning, they could reasonably try to create female-only tournaments.

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founding

One of the many problems with your defense of the Chess Federation’s decision not to allow transgender women to play chess as women is your assumption that transgender people have the brains of the sex they were assigned at birth. Current science suggests that that is not the case. See the TED talk I posted elsewhere and below.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HLEgiR1Fsds&pp=ygUda2FyaXNzYSBzYW5ib25tYXRzdSA1IHNlY29uZHM%3D

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I watched the TED talk. The hypothesis seems to start with men and women have significantly different brains.

The interesting claim is that brain gene expression in XY humans can take the path usually taken in XX humans.

But the notion that trans women have female-patterned brains is claimed without evidence or suggestion of what that might be.

Relative to chess, this talk would suggest that a) females have weaker chess brains b) trans women have similarly weaker chess brains c) therefore trans women are eligible to play in women’s classes (or men’s if they want). This is coherent but requires far more (more than zero) evidence that trans-women have women’s weaker chess brains.

Finally, if all that were established, there would probably need to be testing, as opposed to self-ID, to prevent bad actors from abusing this rule to win prize money, etc.

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founding

It’s not correct to say that there is zero evidence that transgender women have female patterned brains. See the Scientific American article below. That article even addresses the issue of spatial reasoning tasks. It states, “More recently, the field has moved from postmortem brain analysis to functional MRI studies. Cisgender men and women have previously been shown to have different brain areas engaged during a spatial-reasoning task. This research team found that both cisgender boys and transgender boys (assigned female at birth and on pubertal suppression therapy) had similar activation patterns during the task, compared to cisgender girls.”

I’m not going to go to the mat with you over the issue of the biological bases for the transgender phenomenon because to me the issue is much simpler than that as it involves value choices as to social interaction, and how we, as a society and culture, are going to respond to transgender people. To me, if you live 24/7 as a man, our society and culture should accept you as a man, and if you live 24/7 as a woman, our society and culture should accept you as a woman. It’s as simple as that. While that might create situations where a person has a genetic advantage over others in a particular sport or activity, our society and culture routinely accept as fair the genetic advantages that certain people have in sports or other activities. No one says it’s unfair for tall people, who have an undeniable advantage in basketball, to play basketball at the highest competitive levels and to earn the money that comes from that.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-search-for-a-lsquo-cause-rsquo-of-transness-is-misguided/?amp=true

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The argument that inherited differences are accepted in sports (e.g. height) so why not accept biological males in women’s sports is such bad faith (there is no other more charitable justification) that it means all discussion is pointless.

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founding

The nub of the problem, Pete, is that you consider transgender women to be “males.” That, I think, is why you accept inherited differences in height in basketball, but would still seek to ban transgender women, who may have certain inherited differences in certain sports, from participating in women’s sports. Since you have decided that I am taking the position I do “in bad faith,” and since you have expressed the opinion that all discussion with someone of my views is pointless, I don’t expect a reply. But I assure the other readers of the Picayune Sentinel that I am not acting in bad faith, and I’ve been told, in court and elsewhere, that discussion with me is not “meaningless.” Social media, of which comments on Substack is an example, tends to bring out the nastiest in people.

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The argument is bad faith or worse. Not everything you say. I have heard it many times, and upon further discussion determined it iis always bad faith or worse.

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I have participated in equestrian sports since I was ten years old. For the most part, competitions are not divided by gender. After all, a 1200 lb animal with a flight response, is stronger than any human, and we can all get dumped off on an equal basis. There are women polo teams, but there is no reason why a trans woman couldn't compete on a women's team, or vice versa. The biggest competitive advantage in polo is a large bank account.

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founding

There is a similar debate now in formula car racing as to the desirability of a women's series and a progression ladder. Several current women drivers, Like Danica Patrick, have said no since all drivers benefit from racing against the best opposition and there is no gender advantage in a race car. The pro is that it might attract more participants, have its own audience, and attract new fans for the women that get to the top tier.

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While I appreciate the links in the Charlie Myerson section, I would like them to identify the source of the stories. I don't have a Facebook account and so when I click on items that are from Facebook I can't see them. Adding a "FB" or some such identifier would be useful.

Thanks.

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Sorry for the problem. Can you be precise about which links are giving you trouble? They should all—like this one: https://www.facebook.com/ChiPubSq/posts/pfbid0KW5ywshyBfy3YyBscaC3RGtZxWBWWTA5p69CSAj2p4wNeJA3JFBH2oD5WkH84pcZl — be visible whether you’re a Facebook user or not. Email me and tell me more about how you’re viewing those links (phone, computer, browser) and what happens when you try? C@ChicagoPublicSquare.com.

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Regarding women in chess, I wish the article added the rationale for the decision. It simply states the consequences of changing gender in regards to previous competition. A new competitor who is trans gender can opt to sign for the newly adopted gender without disclosing the he/she is transgender so it’s inaccurate to say that trans cannot play as women. In addition, one could argue that just like physical differences, men and women’s brains do function differently in their emotions and risk-taking, something that affects play. I’m trying to be more nuanced, not defend or support the federation’s decision.

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Hi Doctor Bruetman. You say that “a new competitor who is trans gender can opt to sign for the newly adopted gender without disclosing the he/she is transgender so it’s inaccurate to say that trans cannot play as women.” But wouldn’t that person be running the risk of being outed and having to forfeit his/her rating and any awards that he or she won?

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Randy Rainbow is not only a consummate satirist, but a great producer. Love ‘im. But I don’t understand his business model. Grants from George Soros?

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Randy sells recordings, tee shirts, books, and other merchandise. He also performs live, for which you have to buy tickets. https://www.randyrainbow.com/

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founding

The new property transfer tax proposal is a bad idea that might pass because it will be sold as a 'screw the rich' tax. If it passes, I expect that it will distort the market by creating an incentive to subdivide buildings. Rather than sell a building for more than $1 million, the seller can sell it in parts. For example, a $1.5 million three flat could be sold as three $500,000 condos or more likely $750,000 a piece. As we saw in the 80's an apartment building typically sells for a multiple of its price as condos. Similarly, office buildings have been subdivided and condo-ized.

I would also like more clarity on the homelessness problem that needs to be addressed. Is it the 6,000 counted by the Census (and the city) or the 68,000 claimed by housing advocates. It is particularly important given that $100 million is $16,700 for each of the 6,000 but only $1470 for each of the 68,000. The city currently spends about $214 million annually on the problem. https://www.chicagohomeless.org/cch-statement-mayors-budget-adds-significant-new-resources-for-combatting-homelessness-but-dedicated-revenue-still-needed/

As EZ previous interviews have shown, it is far from clear how well spent and how well coordinated this spending is.

This also does not count the more than $100 million the city has spent YTD on asylum seekers and the expected $20 million per month continuing cost.

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Bring Back Idea Oven

1) Every TV needs a button that will send a signal to your lost remote controller.

2) Every TV should come with a built-in Camera so we can use it for Zoom/Teams/FaceTime calls.

3) Can our streaming services stop asking who's watching or prompt us to pick a profile? just use the last one and let us change it if we need to.

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