RIP Norm Macdonald: How Macdonald’s Simple-Truth Logic Could Help Solve the Transgender/Intersex Crisis Facing Women’s Sports

By Robert Johnson
September 20, 2021

Last week, comedian Norm Macdonald died too young at 61. YouTube reminded me of a fairly famous bit he did in 2014 on the late-night show Conan about Oscar Pistorius, where Macdonald said he wasn’t a fan of the “Blade Runner” — not because he’s a murderer, but because he didn’t feel someone running on blades should be allowed to compete against able-bodied runners.

Host Conan O’Brien acted stunned that anyone would take such a non-politically correct stance and argue against the participation of an amputee athlete, but Macdonald’s responses hit on a deep, but non-politically correct truth.

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It’s well worth two minutes of your time as it’s a) hilarious and b) full of logic that I think applies to the transgender/intersex crisis that women’s athletics is currently battling.

The simple-truth logic used by MacDonald is hilarious and hard to argue against.

Let’s imagine you are a runner…and then you go home [and say to your partner], “Oh I lost, honey.”

“Who’d you lose to?”

“The guy with no legs.”

Clearly, that doesn’t make any sense.

Macdonald sums up the situation perfectly by saying, “I feel that one of the basic requirements of being a sprinter is having legs.”

We already use that type of logic all the time in setting eligibility requirements for sports. We don’t let wheelchair racers race against sprinters, nor do we let race car drivers, so why should we let people on blades? We only did so because we let our emotions — our sympathy for their disability — get in the way of common sense.

We need to apply the same simple-truth logic to the intersex and transgender debate that is currently going on in women’s sports.

Imagine for a moment that instead of talking about Pistorius, Macdonald was talking about an intersex or transgender athlete and said the following:

“Let’s imagine you are an elite women’s athlete…and then you go home and say to your partner, “Oh I lost, honey.”

“Who’d you lose to?”

“The girl with functioning testes.”

That seems pretty ridiculous, right?

Many casual fans don’t realize the reality of the situation as most journalists are so often beating around the bush by talking/writing about athletes with “naturally high” levels of testosterone. They almost never tell you that World Athletics’ DSD rules only apply to people who do not have ovaries but do have functioning testes producing testosterone in the male range (7.7 to 29.4 nmol/L), which is 15-20 times greater than the female range (0.06 to 1.68 nmol/L).

We need someone with the bluntness of Macdonald to simply say, “I feel that a basic requirement of being eligible to compete in elite women’s sport is to never have had functioning testes.”

That sums up my thoughts perfectly. And I feel that last quote is the perfect way to shut down the advocates of intersex/transgender athletes such as Francine Niyonsaba, Caster Semenya, CeCe Telfer, Andraya Yearwood, etc. as it makes things easy to understand but does so in a way that isn’t mean or judgmental.

RIP Norm, you will be missed.


Talk about this topic on the LRC messageboard: MB: RIP Norm Macdonald: How Macdonald’s Simple-Truth Logic Could Help Solve the Transgender/Intersex Crisis In Women’s Sports

Robert Johnson is the co-founder of LetsRun.com. While he’s been trying to keep people with male levels of testosterone out of women’s sports for years, he has great personal sympathy for intersex athletes. His most popular column of the year was one he supporting intersex athlete Francine Niyonsaba, who was disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics: The Disgraceful Disqualification of Francine Niyonsaba. 

*2019: What No One Is Telling You About Caster Semenya: She Has XY Chromosomes
*2019: What No One Is Telling You: An Athlete Who Ran NCAA Track As A Man For 3 Years Just Won An NCAA Women’s Title

*Editor’s note: The article was initially published with it saying, “I feel that a basic requirement of being eligible to compete in elite women’s sport is to not have functioning testes” but it was changed to say “never have had functioning testes” to cover cases of transgender athletes who have surgery.

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