Irish Dance: Inconveniently, Boys Are Stronger Than Girls
If you aren’t aware of the world of Irish Dance, you might not know that it’s competitive. Dancers at the highest, most competitive level train like Olympians. Since the inception of major competitions in 1970, competitors have been separated by sex.
That recently changed when the governing body of Irish Dance, An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelachia (CLRG), set a precedent by allowing dancers to compete in the sex category in which they “identify”. As a result, a young man beat 98 females and took first place in the Girls Under 14 competition at the Southern Region Oireachtas in Texas this last December. This dancer had seen excellent results in the boys’ categories as recently as last summer, when he placed 4th in the Nation and 11th at the World Championships in Montreal.
Despite his success, first place at a major competition eluded this young man. That changed last December with his win in the Girls U14 category. His win also bumped the two-time Oireachtas champion to second, another girl missed Worlds Qualification in Glasgow, and yet another did not receive National Qualification.
I would be disappointed if it were confirmed that the governing bodies of Irish Dance justified this decision based on the alleged use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, repeated by people connected to Irish Dance. Not only do such pharmaceuticals not significantly change the strongest most competitive parts of an athlete’s body, but then CLRG would be complicit in incentivizing the medicalization of children wishing to dance in categories not aligned with their biological sex. It’s so negligent. Some would call me a bigot or transphobe. Some accuse people like me of wishing trans dancers didn’t exist. I am not anti-trans; I am pro-child. I am pro-fairness in girls’ sports. I am pro trans-identified persons competing in an “open” category or with their biological sex. I believe the world of Irish Dance can be welcoming to trans dancers without compromising the integrity of biological sex competitions.
I was in the ballroom and saw the biological boy dance against the girls. He clearly had strength and athleticism that is harder for the girls to achieve. He bested our most amazing dancers. I overheard somebody behind me say, “If you don’t want this dancer to beat you, then dance better.” That’s some people’s solution. The message they’d prefer giving to the girls is that they can put themselves through Olympic-style training and, if a boy enters the competition and wins, then it’s their fault for not training harder or dancing better. That sentiment sounds eerily like, “what did she expect dressed like that?" How misogynistic to expect highly trained girls to be subservient to how biological males feel. They want trans-identified dancers to compete where they “can shine on stage and be their authentic selves.” However, they neglect to acknowledge that the authentic self of a biological male isn’t just relegated to how he feels on the inside and presents on the outside. His authentic self includes the strength, power, and inherent athleticism with which he was born. The so-called “inclusion” that the governing bodies of Irish Dance wished to achieve is at the expense of girls. I was also in the Awards Ballroom when he won. The air was sucked out of the room as parents marched away from the stage, the audience applause was sporadic, and the gaping mouths of the competitors on stage were demonstrations of the pulse of a room in shock.
Irish Dance is heavily dominated by female competitors. The superior strength and physicality of the boys are demonstrated in the results of these competitions. While looking at the last three years of Southern Region Oireachtas results, the boys comprise just 9% of all competitors, but they represent 87% of the highest scores. At the Mid-America Oireachtas, the boys represent 10% of all dancers, yet have 80% of the highest scores. There is clearly a difference and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. If anyone would like to see the physical difference in males and females in sports, just look at the results of teenage boys against Olympic women:
Here are all the women bumped from a first-place position in their sport, that we know of:
Can some girls best some boys in sport? Of course, but this is not a reason to allow individuals to compete where they feel most comfortable. Physical capabilities inherent in biological sex is devoid of feelings. Here’s hoping CLRG walks their precedent back and creates a policy where individuals may dance in an “open” category. If you agree and are inclined to let them know, here is a petition to voice your endorsement: