The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, April 9, 2021
Here's the thing about inclusion... — Interview with D.F Pendrys — must-click WoHo links
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Here’s the thing about inclusion …
1. the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
“federal legislation now mandates the inclusion of students who are English language learners”
Similar: incorporation, addition, insertion, introduction, involvement
Opposite: exclusion, omission
2. the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.
“we value and promote diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business”
I wanted to get the basic out of the way, since there seems to be confusion. My editor Howard and I have an ongoing conversation about WBB coverage. Howard is a proponent of more is more, I am too! That’s why The IX Newsletter is so important to both of us.
When Howard cooks up more is more, I also like to ensure we haven’t skimped on a critical ingredient. The salt, if you will, that brings out the flavor of more is more: inclusion.
In my cookbook, diversity ain’t gonna work without a good, hard look at inclusion. (Editor’s note: agree 100% with this.)
That brings me to the online dialogue about trans athletes that has made its rounds in the women’s hockey circle. Toronto Six president and head coach Digit Murphy’s association with the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group was called into question by fans and media members such as Melissa Burgess and Marisa Ingemi.
From there, the Toronto Six tweeted the following:
The original tweeted used the word “trangendered” and received further blowback. Overall, the statement lacks a true course of action. And to that end, so does the NWHL transgender policy implemented (perhaps hastily) after Harrison Browne made it known to the league and the public that he was changing his pronouns back in the 2026-17 season.
Something about the trans athlete exchange that didn’t sit well with me was the first account as told by the CWHL’s first trans athlete Jessica Platt. In a Twitter thread, Platt shared she inquired about open rosters spots for the Toronto Six. Platt is indeed an “aggressively average” player in the WoHo ranks — her term, but too descriptive to not share. Even with two options in North America, rosters remain hard to crack.
What bothered me is that — given the discourse about Murphy, the T6, and the NWHL — Platt allowed herself to wonder if her experience was because of Murphy’s beliefs about transgender athletes.
According to Platt thread, she never heard back from Toronto and I don’t feel the need to speculate on what Murphy does or does not feel about her. However, if Murphy and/or the NWHL want to truly embrace inclusion, I do believe they need to revisit their policy.
My colleague and friend D.F Pendrys weighs in later in the newsletter.
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Five at The IX: Sports Journalist D.F Pendrys
D.F Pendrys is a sports journalist and former colleague on the NWHL beat. He is one of several individuals who’ve been critical of Digit Murphy’s connection to the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group. Pendrys, who is trans, non-binary, and gender Fluid, responded to my questions via direct message.
1) How did you catch wind of the Toronto Six head coach/President Digit Murphy’s association with the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group?
I learned of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group from the Burn It All Down podcast initially. I saw that Nancy Hogshead-Makar had been appointed to a Congressional Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
I was actually going to raise that disturbing news as an issue but wanted to verify Hogshead-Makar was a member of the group. When I was on their website I saw Murphy in the supporters section.
2) What is your take of the WSPWG mission?
The words are a Trojan Horse given language they put elsewhere in the document and even text they put in this statement itself. Starting with the obvious, they claim there is a middle way, they claim to not exclude but they say they will not “disadvantage females by forcing them to compete against some trans females with male sex-linked physical advantages.”
The group pretends to be seeking some sort of reasonable middle ground but goes at who were then two high school girls just trying to compete. Instead of seeking to support their competition they were seeking to exclude them from it.
Also, the language that trans girls are displacing “females” is beyond problematic because TRANS WOMEN are WOMEN! The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group doesn’t see trans women as women and that’s a problem.
And of course there is the “male sex-linked physical advantages” term. This term ignores that even within any group different people have different types of advantages and that is just how humanity is.
Their slogan has actually changed since this all started from “Safeguarding Girls and Women’s Sport While Including Transgender Athletes” to “Affirming Girls’ and Women’s Sport While Including Transgender Athletes” but their message is very clear. The group’s middle way is based on protecting cisgender women. I don’t trust a word they say when it comes to helping trans women.
Also I need to point out that this group is bad on trans issues, but is also totally trapped in the binary. Can’t even imagine how they’d react to someone gender fluid trying to play a sport.
3) The NWHL’s transgender policy that requires hormone testing for “those who transition from male to female”. Some argue this is done to level the competitive playing ground. Others say normal levels of hormones are difficult to determine. Is there a “middle way”?
When it comes to hormone testing and the details, I have to say that the best source to look at is what Andrew has put forward in The Victory Press.
I recommend everyone get information directly from these well written sources. I will say that testosterone levels vary in people naturally if that is what is being measured. Another issue among many Andrew notes is not everyone can afford these hormone processes. There isn’t evidence of people trying to cheat the system like those that demonize trans athletes would like you to think there is. If we’re searching for “normal” levels of hormones the question is what is “normal” and why is it “normal”? Who makes that determination?
As for a middle way. On this issue the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group has corrupted that term. There is also a problem in how the issue is being approached, these policies and a lot of people who are “defending” cisgender women are trying to prevent an invasion of men “pretending” to be trans to win women’s titles. This isn’t happening and it’s a terrible bargaining position when you associate trans people with being up to something when trans people are just trying to live and play sports.
4) As someone who has both experienced the NWHL as a journalist and a fan, what would you like to see happen from here?
The Toronto Six should fire Digit Murphy, and they and their ownership group need to reaffirm their support for the trans community and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community entirely with actions not words. This should have already happened.
The NWHL should be acting to make this happen if they haven’t already. The NWHL should not be ducking this issue in public as they have. They should not only be speaking in press releases. They should be reaffirming through actions as well as public statements their support for the trans community and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community. They should be doing press availability. They should denounce the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group. They should move up working on their Trans Inclusion Policy. Fans deserve an apology from the league.
And by the way this even ties back into the league’s weak handling of Barstool because Barstool’s founder has made transphobic comments in the past and you have players from the league who recently participated in some event of theirs. So you have NWHL players who just care about the bigotry of that site and then you have what’s going on with Murphy. So really the league should really be stronger against the site.
5) What other thoughts would you like to add or illuminate?
I’ve been going to NWHL games since (Jessica) Koizumi scored on (Nana) Fujimoto. I like to think I’ve supported the league, but the leaders now make me question it. When dealing with issues like discussing COVID protocols, Barstool, and now the issue of the humanity of trans people, the NWHL continues to disappoint. They don’t respond to the press enough, they don’t respond to the fans enough. It is unacceptable, and upsetting to see a league that should know better and claims to know better act like this. The current management needs to stop with this behavior and start leading.