Justice as fairness: gender in sports

June 27, 2021 • 12:30 pm

I’ve stolen a mantra from ethical philosopher John Rawls for my title here. And that’s because this article, by Tanya Aldred, argues that we need to have a hard look at the rules for allowing transgender people in sports, because the present system, allowing transgender women to compete with biological women, seems unfair in several ways. What surprises me is that this piece, which is rational and considers all the counterarguments, appears in the Guardian. Tanya Aldred writes about sports for the Guardian, and you can be sure that she’ll be labeled a transphobe for her views.

As always, I begin with a disclaimer, which is that I think that in almost every way possible, we should respect the desire of transgender men and women to be regarded as members of the sex they feel they belong to. That goes for law, moral treatment, and so on. But I can’t sign on to the mantra “trans women are women” in every way, for you can make rational arguments for exceptions. The big one is sports, but other ones are shelters, rape counseling, sex-segregated prisons, and so on. Aldred apparently agrees, at least about sports.

Click on the screenshot to read.

The issue, of course, is whether transgender women being allowed to compete in both school and Olympic sports is a fair decision. There is a reason why men’s and women’s sports are separated, and that’s because men have a biological advantage in bone density, strength, and muscle mass, and if you let everybody compete all together, the women would win almost nothing. I doubt that most people would consider that fair. I can’t think of a single sport, though maybe there is one, in which people should allow everyone to compete with everyone. Here’s Aldred’s summary of relative performance by biological sex:

By conflating gender and sex, I would argue we fudge the very reason we have sex categories in sport: the male performance advantage. Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals. Even in the 100m, one of the events with the smallest performance gap, approximately 10,000 men worldwide have personal bests faster than the current Olympic female champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah (10.70sec). And it’s not just track and field. While the smallest attainment gap between the sexes comes in running, rowing and swimming events (11-13%), this moves up to 16%-22% in track cycling, and between 29% and 34% when it comes to bowling cricket balls and weightlifting. The difference in punch power between men and women is a whopping 162%. Not, then, to be sniffed at.

I would also consider it unfair for medically untreated transgender women to compete in sports against biological women. (They are in fact allowed to do this in some states, and the American Civil Liberties Union favors that stance.) That is basically taking the position that biological men can compete with biological women, effacing the very reason for separating sports by sex. (There is no issue, of course, with trangender men competing against biological men.)

The hard part is what to do when the transgender women who want to compete in women’s sports have had some medical treatment. The requirement is usually lowering testosterone titer by use of hormones and other treatments. The Olympics, for instance, allows transgender women to compete with biological women if the former have a testosterone titer of 10 nanomoles per liter or less, and have kept that level or below for a year.  But there’s no hard evidence to support this category; it’s more or less a guess. And, increasingly, that guess has been shown to be misguided. One reason is that once a biological male hits puberty, the muscle mass and bone density are already set to be higher, on average, than those traits in women. In other words, the advantage of being born a biological male is likely to persist for years, if not forever. (I need hardly mention that these are averages I’m talking about; some treated and untreated transgender women will not outcompete high-performing biological women.) Here’s what Aldred says about newer research:

Increasingly, however, research is showing that these testosterone guidelines do not guarantee the “fair competition” the IOC was hoping for. Ross Tucker, a sports scientist and expert on testosterone advantage in sport, succinctly sums it up: “Lowering of testosterone is almost completely ineffective in taking away the biological differences between males and females.” There is just no proof that reducing testosterone takes away the advantage of muscle mass, strength, lean body mass, muscle size or bone density. Despite this new evidence from Drs Emma Hilton and Tommy Lundberg, the IOC has put off any further decisions making until after Tokyo and left it up to individual sports federations to decide their own transgender policies. Some have been bold, others have written their policies alongside trans lobby groups without consulting women’s organisations or sports scientists. Those questioning the narrative are accused of transphobia – as Martina Navratilova and Nicola Adams have discovered.

I’ve already dealt with one criticism: “Well, some biological women can beat some transgender women.” Here’s another: “Nobody, even within a biological sex, is equal. Some men have natural advantages over others, so why not just throw transgender women into the mix of women’s sports?”  Aldred answers that by referring to champion swimmer Michael Phelps:

The most common argument used in favour of inclusion is that sport is all about natural advantage and that being a trans woman is just another factor to add to the list alongside Michael Phelps’s size 14 feet and double-jointed ankles. The problem with this argument is that we don’t compete according to foot-size, but we do protect the integrity of women’s sport because the advantage gained from male puberty is so comprehensive in terms of speed, power, strength and so much else. Phelps’s feet gave him an advantage as a swimmer; male puberty gave him a much bigger advantage across the board. At the Beijing Olympics, he won the 200m freestyle in 1.42.96, breaking the world record. Federica Pellegrini broke the women’s world record at the same distance, finishing in 1.54.82 – a time that wouldn’t have got her into the men’s semi-finals. It wasn’t internalised misogyny slowing her down.

So what do we do with transgender women who want to compete in women’s sports? It seems unfair to ban them from all competition; after all, participating in sports is the dream of many people, and we should try to accommodate them.

Can science solve the problem? Perhaps, but it would take years of research, and much of that research would be unethical, as it would involve testing various transgender women who had been treated differently to see what is required to make the “average” transgender woman perform on par with the “average” biological woman.  The sample size to do that would be enormous, and remember that the advantages of biological men vary from sport to sport, so you’d have to do it separately for all sports. All I can say now is that medically untreated transgender women should not be allowed to compete in sports with biological women. World Rugby has dealt with the problem by banning the participation of transgender women in international women’s rugby, on the basis that the transgender women could hurt biological women in this rough contact sport.

Aldred has a solution that I and many others have offered. It’s not perfect, but maybe it’s the best we can do at present. We do need to address the issue now because the number of transgender athletes is increasing, even if now they only form a tiny minority of competitors; and the law and governments are starting to get involved.

Aldred (I’ve put her solution in bold):

The American cyclist Veronica Ivy (previously known as Rachel McKinnon) says hang the heartache, trans women are women and should simply be able to self-identify themselves into the women’s category at every level. This argument has got some traction. In which case, why bother having sex categories for sport at all? Just put everyone in together and watch biological males win the lot. I’d argue the opposite. The science is young. Stop. Breathe. Trans women should be able to live their sporting lives to the fullest so if research can find a way for them to participate in female sports without advantage, brilliant. Until then, remove the idea of gender altogether and revert to sex-based categories – a female category and an open category that can cater for trans men who have taken testosterone, trans women and men.

I doubt that this will happen, but it at least evinces a modicum of fairness and is based on recent research. Feel free to weigh in below.

 

h/t: Jez

57 thoughts on “Justice as fairness: gender in sports

  1. Equestrian sports are currently one of only two Olympic categories in which men and women compete directly against each other and according to the same rules (sailing is the second sport). Of course these do not depend so much on individual strength but using the horse’s or wind/wave strength. Women have also coxed successfully in rowing matches where men where the rowers (low weight an advantage).

    1. I am not as informed on current sailing as I used to be, but I believe the only mixed sailing event is the Nacra 17. It is mixed in the sense that each team is mandated to have one man and one woman. That boat was designed for mixed sailing. Strength and weight are certainly a factor, as those boats depend hugely on the crew serving as ballast. The boats sail best when heeling is kept to a minimum. When you sail boats like that, you need to be standing out on the windward rail, or the boat will capsize immediately. However, the boat was designed so that the boat would sail well with a lighter person aft, steering and tending the mainsheet. The sheet itself (the rope that controls the mainsail) has more mechanical advantage than it might otherwise, so it requires less strength. The downside of that is the need to take in or let out more line for any given change, so response is not as quick as in might otherwise be.
      In the Laser and the 49er class, the women sail a boat with a scaled-down rig. In the smaller 470 class, men and women use the same boat, but compete separately.

      I saw the note about Equestrian and sailing being the only mixed sports as well, but it does appear that tennis, table tennis, and badminton also feature mixed doubles events.

    2. There should be other sports that are also played equally. That odd one called ‘curling’ seems a good candidate. there are a number of other winter sports that might be done equally (skiing, snowboarding?) but one would have to check the stats first.

      1. I have found curling to be entertaining to watch, although I would be hard pressed to explain why. But as in the other listed sports ( excepting possibly equestrian?), the mixed teams have set numbers of members of each sex, who alternate throws.
        Whether men have an advantage does not seem to keep anyone from enjoying women’s events.

        I had a film about the US women’s soccer team show up in one of my film list suggestions today, the point of the film being the ongoing debate about equality. They do sort of leave a claim in the air that they are better than the men, and that their compensation should be tied to that, rather than to union negotiated rates or the team’s revenue. My automatic response is the suggestion that they just go ahead and play the men’s team, to prove the claim more or less conclusively. But of course that is unlikely to happen.
        The Williams sisters of tennis seem to have a more measured view. Somewhere, there is a ranked male tennis player that is her equal on the court. Nobody will ever hear of him, he will never get a big endorsement deal, or own a Gulfstream jet. I think it is better to have separate competitions, because otherwise we would not get to watch Serena Williams play.

        Perhaps the issue here is that we are allowing the conversation and much of the policy to be controlled by people who think they can adjust reality to fit their expectations, instead of allowing their expectations to be at all constrained by that reality.

          1. I can’t be sure how the movie Max mentioned meant “better” but as far as success within their respective leagues, as opposed to head to head competition, the women’s team has indeed been much better. The men’s team have 0 World Cup wins while the women’s team have 4 to date. I think it is probably in this context that the claim that the women’s team is better was made.

            I’ve actually heard that argument made by quite a few sources, but I’ve never heard anyone argue that the women’s team could compete against the men’s team in actual game play against each other.

        1. Are you sure that by better they meant that the women’s team could compete against the men’s team and win? I’ve heard it argued before that the women’s team is better than the men’s team in that they have a much better record than the men’s team within their respective leagues and therefore they should be paid at least as much as the men. And that is true, the women’s team has been much more successful than the men’s team, and in that sense they have unquestionably been better than the men’s team. Much better.

          1. As far as I know, they are paid much better than the men’s team, but again within their league. Male players get something like 6% of the overall take in salaries, while the women get something like 24%.

            In absolute terms they play far worse than the men, and in absolute terms they make less money. In relative terms, they have a better record than the men and make a lot more money. Sounds fair to me. 😛

          1. +2

            In my younger days I’d go on ski trips for a week or two and by the end my thighs would no longer fit into my jeans. You can certainly ski moderately without taxing yourself, but skiing aggressively is very physically demanding.

  2. I believe the official guidelines are thus:

    A trans-woman can compete in the women’s division of Olympic sports if 1) he says he identifies as female and 2) he keeps his testosterone level below 10 nmol/L for a year.

    Well one interesting problem with that is many guys naturally have a testosterone level lower than 10 nmol/L.

    1. I don’t think that’s true. The range in men is about 270 – 1070.
      Anything under that is an abnormal medical condition.

      Under 10 would be very very rare, and abnormal.

      1. I think you’re using a different unit. In nmol/L, men typically range about 9.2 to 34.5.

        The bigger problem is that women typically range around 0.3 to 2.4 nmol/L, so limiting it to 10 nmol/L still gives them a huge advantage. They should be limited to maybe 3 nmol/L if we want to make it fair.

  3. Everyone seems to agree that fairness to transgender women is important and we would all like to have them participate in some way. It’s especially of interest because they have been discriminated against generally for a long time. Expectations are high. However, it may turn out to be impossible to make such an accommodation. I think we have to be realistic and accept the likelihood of that unfortunate result remembering that there are many other categories of people unable to achieve their goals and desires – such as the handicapped who often have separate games. At some point, we may have to settle for reality over hope.

  4. I’m not sure why Phelps and swimming is so often used as an example. A better analogy is weight categories, which exist in a number of sports. What would happen in boxing and wrestling if there were no weight divisions? Or age categories in many youth sports (why do we need youth sports at all). Special Olympics? The only issue is about which category of male or female divisions trans women fall into. And that is a scientific/medical decision, not a political one, or at least it should be.

    1. Another analogy is that of the ParaOlympics, which has numerous categories based on ability/disability. I’m not sure how others feel but I find the ParaOlympics as exciting as the Olympics. So why can we not just adopt the idea of more categories in sport? I don’t understand it but I have heard/read trans athletes how are absolutely against this idea. For some reason many of them see this as an unacceptable solution but I cannot remember any particular argument against it, only that I found the argument wanting. I’d also add not just the division of youth vs adult sports but adult vs older people, as in the PGA Champions tour. Should we declare that having different competitions for different age groups a form of ageism? Would we want to follow the trans athlete idea and have a 75yr old golfer compete against a 28 yr old and an 11 yr old? Can we not have just a smidge of common sense without being labeled as some form of anti-this or that-ism? Please?

      1. Separate categories for trans women (and trans men) in sports would solve the fairness problem, but that’s not what trans women want. They want to be accepted as women and setting up a separate category for them in sport is the opposite of that.

        In a comment thread I read recently about Laurel Hubbard, somebody pointed out that her qualification for the Olympics meant that a female weightlifter (she was named, but I forget what it is) was therefore denied her opportunity to compete. A trans woman retorted “nobody has a right to compete in the Olympics”. Exactly. The lived experience of approximately all women in the World is not competing in the Olympics. Maybe trans women should just accept that they won’t be allowed to compete as women in most professional sports.

    2. Following the principle under discussion here (and evidently supported by the ACLU), shouldn’t a
      heavyweight boxer be permitted to fight in the featherweight division if he feels in his inward soul, regardless of what the scales report, that he is a featherweight?

  5. I think that in almost every way possible, we should respect the desire of transgender men and women to be regarded as members of the sex they feel they belong to.

    I’d prefer to say that we should respect their self-declaration of which gender they belong to, but not accept that with respect to sex.

    1. And what then is the difference between “sex” and “gender?” That’s the problem.

      Until recently, the standard definition of “sex” involved the biological pathways of reproduction, and the standard definition of “gender” had to do with cultural assumptions regarding how the sexes differed in thought and behavior. Men were rational leaders; women were emotional subordinates. That was gender. Sexism.

      Saying you belonged to the opposite “gender” meant you were declaring yourself to be a “masculine woman” or a “feminine man.” Reinforcing sexism, in other words. The transgender insist, over and over, that they don’t mean that. It’s not stereotypes .

      They also insist that, by “gender,” they don’t mean “sex.” It’s gender identity: you identify as a man, or a woman (or neither. ) By “Man” they mean “anyone who identifies as a man’ and by “Woman” they mean “anyone who identifies as a woman” — making sure neither definition includes sex or stereotypes.

      I think we should be polite and socially accommodating.

      1. I’d take “gender” as referring to attitudes, behaviours and roles, aka “stereoptypes”. If someone wants to self-ID into such stereotypes then presumably we all accept that as fine? Equally, if anyone doesn’t want to conform to stereotypes then that’s equally fine.

        But sex is the more basic and primary attribute, and people cannot self-ID into that.

        By “Man” they mean “anyone who identifies as a man’ and by “Woman” they mean “anyone who identifies as a woman”

        Which, as you of course realise, is vacuous.

      2. The terminology seems to be a muddle since “gender” gets used in place of “sex” and vice-versa. There are those who claim that “sex” is a social construct (along with “gender”), while the more scientifically minded people hold that the term “sex” should be reserved for biological sex, meaning the type of gonadal tissue that we have.
        I’ve been evolving toward the idea that we are seeing the messy origin of a new homonym for the word “sex”, so that both definitions are now correct. In order for the dust to settle both the biological and social construct meanings of the word “sex” will have to be admitted into our lexicon.

  6. I maybe very conservative here: if a Y-chromosome, no competition in women’s sport. As simple as that.
    No need for hormone levels and the like. I’m sorry for those transgender ‘women’ being excluded from women’s sports, but the ‘harm’ done to a tiny minority does not weigh up to the harm done to the great group of female athletes.
    Transgender women, you may feel or identify like a woman, but you are not. And you cannot possibly be. Deal with it, accept reality. Nobody is stopping you from competing in the male competition.

    1. It isn’t that simple, though. There are XX people with testes and hi testosterone. The presence of testicular tissue is the traditional biological definition of a male, but you don’t need a Y chromosome to have testes. This happens from a translocation of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome –> an X chromosome, and viola’ – you have balls.

  7. First off; My eye-lids won’t bat if my physician or plumber is male -as I am-, or female, straight -as I am – or gay, or trans, or of any spiritual tendency -I don’t have any. This applies to skin hue as well.
    But, a disproportionate amount of dust is being raised about a very small part of humanity.
    Trans people want to do sports? Let them have their own … er, classification. I just cannot fathom the possibility of a trans woman boxer exchanging punches in the womens’ category
    SS. When young, I thought something fishy was going on with the Balac high jumper, or the Press sisters. Every one forgot about them when the IOC initiated gendre verification in the early sixties.

  8. I think that in almost every way possible, we should respect the desire of transgender men and women to be regarded as members of the sex they feel they belong to. That goes for law, moral treatment, and so on. But I can’t sign on to the mantra “trans women are women” in every way, for you can make rational arguments for exceptions. The big one is sports, but other ones are shelters, rape counseling, sex-segregated prisons, and so on.

    I’m not sure how transwomen can be regarded as members of the sex they feel they belong to “in law” and yet be excluded from women’s sports, shelters, rape-counseling, prisons, showers, changing rooms, restrooms, awards, reserved places on committees, scholarships, and crime statistics. Once they are legally declared “women,” I foresee no good arguments for making any legal distinction in any area at all.

    That would include sports.There have already been complaints that it’s *unfair* that transwoman weightlifter Lauren Hubbard is required to lower her natural level of testosterone, since she was born a girl though “assigned male at birth.” The claim then is that some women have bodies indistinguishable from male ones. The other women athletes will have to deal.

    1. Sastra, I normally agree with your take, I see you as a light of reason, but here I do not.

      1. Re-reading, I basically agree. I’m too quick t respond before readomg the argument properly, mea culpa.

    2. I agree! Although the sports one is the real sticking point maybe. And maybe not.
      You see, all the arguments I’ve seen against giving trans women, including non-transformed t.w. access to these things are structurally the same arguments used in the past against women voting, women working outside the home, women in this or that profession, and on and on with similar arguments regarding minorities and gays and so on. All of these olde arguments boiled down to the claim that expansion of access would lead to the break-down of this or that part of our social order. The sky would fall. The sky never fell, of course!
      I remember how my mother tried to go back into teaching after having me. My father fought bitterly with her over this, and we had neighbors who refused to speak to her ever since. This was not that long ago, really!
      As for trans women competing as women in elite sports, the argument against it seems reasoned enough, and maybe it will lead to a significant mess in women’s sports. But the truth is these cases will be rare, at least in the western world. I don’t expect it to be so common that it becomes a real complication for women. I think we ought to try it and see if the sky really falls.

      1. all the arguments I’ve seen against giving trans women, including non-transformed t.w. access to these things are structurally the same arguments used in the past against women voting, women working outside the home …

        Was “you’re not a woman; you’re a man” one of the arguments?

        This one is different. We’re not talking about expanding access, but disabling hard-won feminist gains in a culture in which sexism and misogyny are still active. Maybe you would be willing to “see what happens.” A lot of women aren’t. It likely can’t be walked back.

        1. This one is different. We’re not talking about expanding access, but disabling hard-won feminist gains in a culture in which sexism and misogyny are still active. Maybe you would be willing to “see what happens.” A lot of women aren’t. It likely can’t be walked back.”

          Right on the money.

          I don’t know if anyone else has posted this in this thread; but I will here. This is the comparison of 2016 track & field results for USA high school boys (making them all 18 yo or less) and the women’s Olympic results from 2016.

          https://boysvswomen.com/#/

          So, boys from a single nation (albeit a large one) versus the best women athletes the entire world has to offer, who have access the best training, etc., essentially able to train for the Olympics as full-time work (and probably well beyond full-time).

          These results should tell you all you need to know about the fairness of letting untransitioned (and probably transitioned as well*) trans-women compete in women’s sports.

          (* What does 20 or so years of on one of the most effective performance-enhancing drugs do for one’s performance? Any man taking testosterone for 20 years would surely get a lifetime ban. Why is that?)

      2. For those girl/women athletes who are in competitive sports, it has become a real complication for women and the sky really has fallen. On women.

      3. It may be rare with respect to any one athletic competition, at least at the local level – I expect that if it ever become truly accepted that national and international competitions would be dominated by transwomen – but the disruption will not be rare when it comes to records. It doesn’t take much for a male to set a record that no female could ever hope to break, and it only has to happen once in a particular event. As transwomen set these new records occasionally, here and there, the prospects for actual women to ever set a record again will diminish towards nothing.

  9. Slightly (only slightly) off topic: The malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa), aka. Jan Groentjie, has a quite remarkable sexual dimorphism, indicating strong female choice, yet they are reputed to be monogamous. How does that work?

  10. I suspect that the statement that Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made was correct when she said “transwomen are transwomen”. Contrary to the despicable pushback she received, it isn’t transphobic or hateful to draw a distinction between biological women and biological men who sincerely identify as women. In most circumstances, the line doesn’t need to be drawn at all, but there are a few – those our host mentions, say – in which it does.

    I can’t be alone in finding it odd that in all other cases, we are repeatedly told that sex/gender (not my blurring) is nonbinary and yet in this case apparently it is. And furthermore, it is biological males, however they identity, who insist that they are the ones who get to decide the rules – and women who disagree are to be ignored or bullied – even their existence denied by nonsensical terminology like “people who menstruate” etc. Patriarchy much?

  11. How many transgender men are competitive in sports with biological men? To a first-order approximation, none, which is why no one worries about it. That illustrates the asymmetry and injustice in the system.

  12. A basic problem with people and sport is that competitive sport is discriminatory. The best win. So those who assert that all discrimination is bad are primed to dispute the issue of transgender athletes in competition with others.

    Yet if transgender athletes have an advantage and win frequently then other competitors and audiences will simply become indifferent to the sport altogether.

  13. I think a large part of the controversy on this subject goes back to wokeness as a religion. The trans subset believe very strongly that a trans woman is a real woman. It is the key tenet of the faith. There can be no natural advantages carried over, because permanent or lingering differences contradict that primary tenet. So they work out unlikely explanations for the realities which would undermine their beliefs, and which cannot be accepted.
    Fundamentalists go through the same sort of thing when confronted with realities like fossils or radioactive decay.
    In the end, no amount of careful and reasoned debate is going to influence them, nor will piles of data. If you provide good enough reasoning, and indisputable data, the response will be that you are wrong “because shut up”, and also, you are a transphobe.

    1. Stonewall, an LGBT campaign group in the UK, has promoted the #NODEBATE approach to trans issues which is extremely unhelpful – not least during a recent prolonged government consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act!

      It doesn’t help that organisations seeking to prove their corporate LGBT policies are acceptable very often seek approval from Stonewall’s ubiquitous Diversity Champions accreditation programme. The result is arguably a level of “corporate capture” of many governmental, media, and other relevant bodies – including the Office for National Statistics, as was recently highlighted in a legal battle over the question about sex in the UK’s national census. https://fairplayforwomen.com/whos-behind-the-government-losing-sight-of-reality/

    2. Fundamentalists go through the same sort of thing when confronted with realities like fossils or radioactive decay.

      Or realities like that gay people exist. Were it up to them, gay folk would all still be in the closet, and we’d still be in the midst of the old Lavender Scare.

      There are legitimate issues — many identified by our host above, including the issue of women’s sports — regarding transwomen participating alongside women born that way biologically. But, by and large, the Religious Right wants to deny transwomen any recognition or rights as a rearguard action of sorts because they’re still smarting over their loss of the culture war over gay rights and same-sex marriage.

  14. One can present as many rational arguments as one pleases as to why transgender women should not be allowed to participate in various sports categories. But, resistance to these arguments will be fierce among many transgender women and their allies. The reason for this is that the differentiation between transgender women and other women is perceived (rightly or wrongly) by the former as an attack on their very essence – an attempt to demean them by claiming that they are not women in every sense of the term. This they will never accept, resulting in their hatred of those that they consider discriminating against them. I cannot think of anything within psyches that arouses more passion than the belief that others view them as something less than the humans they perceive themselves to be.

  15. A single professional male soccer player who decides to identify as a woman would be enough to win the Women’s World Cup for his/her team.

  16. We are not talking about gender fairness. A social construct, how you perceive yourself is not in play. It is the actual physical advantages your physiology gives you. A male has hips designed for power. Women’s hips are designed for giving birth. Males have much larger joints and much larger muscle attachments. This is all designed for power. Much greater height on average. Social constructs do not factor into this. The physical constructs of the sexes are the only factors to be considered. Hubbard quit lifting in 2001. Comes back after 16 years and in his 40’s after transitioning and sets records. His socially constructed gender does not give him an advantage but his dna does.
    The physical characteristics of transgendered m-f bell curve with men, not with women. Let them compete with men.

  17. Trans men have zero chance competing against biological men at the Olympic level. I may be wrong but I’d wager that all trans women wouldn’t qualify against biological males in Olympic level or professional sport either. They may be able to beat biological women but aren’t good enough to defeat men at an elite level. While I don’t want to impute motivations to some unknown fraction of trans women athletes, surely some of them chose to transition for the sake of gaining fame, glory and recognition as being among the best in a sport. Oh well, suck it up I say and get over yourself.

    Sex is binary except for extremely rare borderline cases that we know enough about to characterize at what level they compete. Put them on the appropriate team and allow them to use a different locker room to change. But ban them from female sport. Trans men and women can identify however they choose and get all rights and legal protections in my book. We’ll even play along with their choice to bend gender and dress however they like but the fact is, they do not become the opposite sex. The rest of society is simply being polite and accommodating so let’s be honest – we don’t get to “choose” our sex just as we don’t get to choose our race and presume acceptance into other racial groups.

    1. “for the sake of gaining fame, glory and recognition as being among the best in a sport” This, and the money that flows from it, is the reason every elite athlete competes.

      So, regardless of why a transwoman athlete became trans, they want the same things from competition as other athletes. And they now have a huge advantage over others in the sport. This can clearly be identified as cheating.

  18. Long ago I graduated as a Sports Scientist (B.App.Sc.) In discussing athletes and their burning desire to win a gold medal at the Olympics we learned of a question that had been posed to many such aspirants. ‘If you could be given a drug that would guarantee you’d win gold but that you would die far younger than if you’d not taken it, would you take the drug?” There was a high percentage of ‘Yes’ responses. This really brought home to me just how single-minded these highly-trained people are – their entire being focussed on winning.
    So when we discuss sports where males who transitioned post-puberty have an advantage – even if only a small one – this isn’t just a ‘nuisance’ or an inconvenience. It’s a massive deal for female athletes and enough, one might think, to dissuade many women from taking up certain sports.
    Why not create a third category in the Olympics – for transwomen athletes? I’m guessing that, were that to happen, there would soon be controversy amongst that group of competitors over who’d transitioned before/after puberty and what depth of concern there may be over perceived inequalities.
    Just as an aside – the blood clotting condition that is a rare but known side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine is apparently somewhat more prevalent in the under 50s and more so for women.who are thus recommended to get the Pfizer vaccine instead. I’ve yet to hear whether transwomen are included in that ‘at higher risk’ group or not and whether they’ve been offered Pfizer instead of AZ..

    1. My comments at 20 (meant to be a reply). I agree with you.

      This is so true: “It’s a massive deal for female athletes and enough, one might think, to dissuade many women from taking up certain sports.”

      Or, as is necessary to compete at the top levels (and get those lucrative endorsement deals and interviews on the chat shows, etc., etc.), they dedicate nearly their entire lives as youths to the goal of excelling. To have that life’s work snatched away by a biological man? Ugh.

  19. “where males who transitioned post-puberty have an advantage – even if only a small one ”

    All the things that come with passing through adolescence as a male: Larger muscles, tendons, muscle attachments, joint surfaces, lung capacity, VO2max, etc., etc. cannot be seen as “small” advantages. At elite (e.g. Olympics) levels, those small differences will be everything.

    The Tour de France is usually won by 3-5 minutes (out of around 80 hours of total riding time): 0.0063% to 0.01%, more or less. One one-hundredth of one percent. Small advantages matter.

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