Does suppression of testosterone reduce the athletic advantage of transwomen over biological women?

January 3, 2022 • 11:30 am

I want to begin by saying that the article we’ll discuss appeared in Quillette, and some have started dismissing everything published on that site as right-wing nonsense.  That’s a bad attitude. While I disagree with some of the things I read there, I agree with others, and that’s what should be the case for a site devoted to presenting “controversial” opinions. Lots of good people have published there, and it’s your loss if you ignore it. Plus, by spurning everything on the site, you’re committing the “genetic fallacy”, defined in Wikipedia and explained by Steve Pinker in his new book Rationality.  From Wikipedia:

The genetic fallacy (also known as the fallacy of origins or fallacy of virtue) is a fallacy of irrelevance that is based solely on someone’s or something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. In other words, a claim is ignored in favor of attacking or championing its source.

Don’t commit this fallacy!

Now, on to the article and the topic: does suppressing testosterone after puberty in men who transition to the gender of “woman” (i.e., transwomen) make them qualified to compete with biological females in women’s sports? I’ve discussed this several times, but this new article discusses two review articles that look at more data. In particular, the data involve not only the differences in traits and performances between “cis” men and women, but also whether testosterone suppression according to Olympic rules (a titer of 10 nanomoles/liter of blood for 12 months before competition) sufficiently reduces the physical advantage of transwomen so that they are able to compete fairly in sports against biological women.

The answer to the last question seems to be, no, it doesn’t. Male sports advantage, involving traits acquired beginning at puberty, is not appreciably diminished after even three years of testosterone suppression.  This raises problems for those who argue that transwomen should certainly be allowed to compete against biological women. Many people and organizations, most notably the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), take the position that there need be no medical or surgical intervention in men who identify as women to allow them to compete against biological women.And that is a risible position, and one palpably unfair to biological women. Now we see that the position of the IOC, which involves maintaining a 10nm testosterone level or below for a year to compete, does not “level the playing field.” (The IOC has rescinded this standard.)

[UPDATE: I had forgotten that the Biden administration seems to be taking the same position as the ACLU, as a commenter notes below, and that would be disastrous for women’s sports.]

Click on the screenshot to read. and note at the bottom a source: “This article has been adapted from the recently published Macdonald-Laurier Institute report, Fair Game: Biology, Fairness, and Transgender Athletes in Women’s Sport.” The full 44-page report is here.

The authors are identified this way:

Jon Pike formerly chaired the British Philosophy of Sport Association. Emma Hilton is a biologist at the University of Manchester. Leslie A. Howe is a University of Saskatchewan philosophy professor.

First, a biology lesson:

In line with the biology of sexual reproduction and evolutionary pressure on reproductive fitness, males and females are physically different. Physical divergence begins with primary sex development at around seven weeks in utero when, triggered by genetic information inherited at fertilization, bipotential gonads differentiate as either testes in males or ovaries in females. The differentiation and development of gonad type generates a sex-specific hormonal profile that drives ongoing development associated with sex class. Testes contain cells that produce the hormone testosterone, and it is testosterone and its derivatives that mediate the development of male internal and external genitalia, the establishment of growth parameters during high-testosterone “minipuberty” in the neonatal period, and the development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty.

In females, the absence of testosterone production from the developing ovaries permits female internal and external genital development, and the activation of estrogen pathways promotes the development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty.

The secondary sex characteristics acquired during puberty in preparation for reproduction lead to measurably different body morphs between males and females (“sexual dimorphism”) across many physical parameters. Broadly, when compared with females, males are taller and have longer bones with narrower hips and wider shoulders; have lower body fat and higher muscle mass differentially distributed across sites, with more resistant connective tissue; have larger hearts and lungs, and higher levels of haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen within the blood.

Here’s a figure from the article showing the physical, functional, and performance differences between un-transitioned (“cis”) men and women. The percentages reflect male “advantage”, i.e.(male- female)/female] X 100.  As you see, for most traits except body fat and pelvic width, men have “more” of the trait than do women.  For the nine performance-related traits, men have more of all of them. The same holds for 12 performance differences. References are given at the bottom of the table.

This isn’t really new—it’s the very reason why sports participation is almost invariably segregated by sex. It wouldn’t be fair to have biological women running track, weightlifting, or playing tennis against biological men.

The question at hand is this: if biological men who identify as women suppress their testosterone levels, can they compete fairly against biological women? By “fairly”, I mean “lose all the physical advantages they have acquired as biological men who have passed through puberty”? The answer, as I said, is “no.”  Here’s the author’s summary, buttressed by another graph below:

There are athletic differences, probably underpinned by genetic differences and exposure to testosterone during minipuberty that are evident between male and female children at school age. However, school sports tend to promote team play, skill acquisition, and social development, and are therefore usually mixed sex (although promising children may be streamed to dedicated extracurricular sports that are divided by sex).

Notwithstanding these childhood differences, the majority of male athletic advantage appears to be acquired at puberty, when males experience a surge of testes-derived testosterone that results, in adulthood, in circulating testosterone ranging from 8.8–30.9 nanomoles per litre (nmol/l), while female testosterone remains low, ranging from 0.4–2.0 nmol/l. Thus, from puberty into adulthood, testosterone levels between males and females form a non-overlapping, bimodal distribution.

And here’s the discussion of the review papers, one in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and the other in the Springer journal Sports Medicine. You can access both for free.

There have been two high-qualityhigh-impact academic reviews, both in leading sports journals, of muscle and skeletal physiology in transwomen who have, post-puberty, suppressed testosterone as part of their transition. The reviews cover longitudinal studies; that is, they contain pre-transition metrics such as thigh muscle area and grip strength, and matched data from at least 12 months, occasionally longer, into transition. All transwomen studied had been successfully suppressing testosterone to less than 10 nmol/l for at least one year, and would therefore qualify for inclusion in female sports categories under the regulations specified by the IOC and most sports federations. Collectively, the studies captured by these reviews cover over 800 transwomen in 10 original studies, with data acquired as a routine aspect of ongoing general health assessments within clinical care teams.

To summarize: In transwomen successfully suppressing testosterone for 12 months, skeletal metrics—height, limb/digit length, and shoulder/pelvic width—do not change, and the extent of muscle/strength loss is approximately -5 percent after 12 months, a modest change that is insufficient to bridge the baseline muscular differences between males and females.

Regarding musculoskeletal parameters, Hilton and Lundberg concluded: “The biological advantage, most notably in terms of muscle mass and strength, conferred by male puberty and thus enjoyed by most transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed as per current sporting guidelines for transgender athletes.”

This conclusion was subsequently confirmed by Joanna Harper and her fellow researchers, who added: “Hormone therapy decreases strength, lean body mass and muscle area, yet values remain above [those] observed in cisgender women, even after 36 months.”

The figure below, with references, shows measurements of biological women (F) compared to transwomen (TW) of similar height and weight before and after they transitioned, suppressing testosterone according to IOC standards for at least 12 months. The left side of the figure shows the percentage loss of various traits in transwomen due to hormone suppression, and on the right the retained percentage advantage of the hormone-suppressed transwomen over biological women/ Advantages include phusical traits and performance.

As you see, the percentage losses in transwomen, except for the 12% in thigh muscle area, is negligible using the Olympic standards (note that a few traits, like thigh muscle areaLean body mass, and limb lean mass, they monitored after 2-3 years), and in every case measured, the transwomen retain a large percentage advantage over biological women, ranging from 13% to 41%.  These numbers should be zero if the Olympic standard really did level the playing field.(I presume that the absence of a bar means “no data”.)

The authors’ conclusions:

Thus, the most recent analyses generate a consensus that testosterone suppression in transwomen who meet the central IOC criteria adopted by most sporting federations induces only small amounts of muscle/strength loss, and does not remove the male athletic advantage acquired under high-testosterone conditions at puberty. Male musculoskeletal advantage is retained, and this raises obvious concerns about fairness and safety within female categories when transwomen are included.

In the face of this evidence, the IOC has publicly made it clear that the guidance it offered in 2015 is “not fit for purpose.” Rather than tightening the policy, though, the IOC has passed the task on to international federations and governing bodies.

Now these cases involve people born unambiguously male or female. The authors also discuss people who are sexually ambiguous (0.02% of the population) and those with differences of sexual development (DSD). The short take is that it’s complicated, and raises yet other questions.

In the main, though, given that there are many studies involved here, the conclusion for the time being must be that IOC-standard hormone suppression does not completely eliminate in transwomen the biological traits of males that give them an advantage in sports—even after three years of treatment. In light of this, the International Olympic Committee has rescinded its standards and, as far as I know, hasn’t issued new ones. But the IOC’s standards clearly aren’t sufficient to “nullify the physical advantages of transwomen who were all born male and have experienced male puberty.”

What to do, then, to ensure fairness? The only solutions I see for now are two I’ve mentioned before: either creating an “other” category, or allowing transwomen to compete only against biological men. To maintain that “transwomen are women” for purposes of athletic competition, as the ACLU and some trans activists do, is simply unwarranted. It’s unfair to biological women, who have largely been self-censoring their complaints because they’d be called “transphobic.”

65 thoughts on “Does suppression of testosterone reduce the athletic advantage of transwomen over biological women?

  1. Notice that we never see trans men pushing to compete in men’s sports? Clearly, changing your identity doesn’t magically make you a biological male. With regard to trans women, I think the fair thing to do would be to create separate teams for them.

    1. Probably they are. But there’s no controversy, since they have no innate advantage.

      As I tell people:

      Ask yourself why there are men’s and women’s divisions in sports.
      Ask your self why there’s no controversy over trans men participating in men’s divisions.

      Only a trans ideologue can draw any conclusion except that trans women don’t belong in women’s divisions (especially un-transitioned ones).

      1. But the whole point here is that even fully “transitioned” trans women don’t belong in women’s divisions. Full stop. They retain for the long term too many of the performance advantages they got from male puberty. Even surgical castration wouldn’t level the playing field. If they want to play sports, they have to play with the men.

        Now, if you are talking about people who never went through male puberty at all because of drugs prescribed in early adolescence, you might have a point. But that is probably going to come to be regarded as medical malpractice when the dust settles and saner second thoughts are applied.

        1. “But the whole point here is that even fully “transitioned” trans women don’t belong in women’s divisions.”

          Of course.

          But non-transitioned women are being allowed to participate in Women’s Divisions (in some places and times). Which is even worse.

  2. Option C:

    Dismiss “gender” from consideration entirely. Only go by sex. That way, individuals can fly their gender flag high, while participating in either men’s or women’s sports according to their sex.

    Hard stop.

    1. Option D (and incredibly Woke):

      Dismiss “gender” from consideration entirely. Dismiss “sex” from consideration entirely. Competition is white supremacy, so anyone can enter a sport and all shall win prizes.


    2. The people pushing the trans agenda simply refuse to recognize biological sex. Hence, this would (unfortunately) do nothing to change the controversy.

    3. I’m happy with your suggestion, but then you have to deal with the deluded, who dismiss the existence of sex as a real way of dividing >99% of the population into two groups and a few embryological conundrums left over. You literally cannot argue with people who have abandoned all acknowledgement of objective reality. I have always regarded those who put political ends ahead of reality as dangerous, as we are far into “2+2=5” territory there.

      1. To jblilie and chrism,

        Well, we have to reverse this at some point, right? Are we to let a gang of destructive (Marxist adjective self-redacted at this point) hooligans run/ruin the epistemology of Western Civilization?

        I agree you can’t argue with them. Let alone turn them. They have to be ousted.

        [note: did you know the 2+2 thing was originated by Nazis? Here’s the quote: “I tell you, if the Fuhrer wishes it, then two plus two are five.” ~ Herrmann Goering, quoted by Eugene Davidson, The Trial of the Germans, Macmillan, 1966

  3. Agreed instead of two athletics categories for “women” and “men”, change to “female” and “open”, where “female” means “having passed through puberty with ovaries.”

    I don’t think most athletes with DSDs would be difficult to categorize this way. The differences in sexual development are all in secondary sex traits, and the primary sex trait can be the defining trait for the purpose of sport. An athlete like Caster Semenya would be categorized as male and obliged to compete in the open category in spite of her other secondary sex traits and her self-identity as a woman, and I think that would be correct.

    How to assess the primary sex trait is tough though because it depends on an invasive medical exam.

    The really hard cases would be males with complete androgen insensitivity who go through puberty with testes but don’t develop the secondary sex traits that would confer an athletic advantage. Those folks would more fairly qualify as women though they are not female.

    1. “…because it depends on an invasive medical exam.”

      This would not be the case if we could go by birth certificate. One’s sex at birth is one’s sex.

      However, now “sex” on a birth certificate can be 1) labeled ‘gender’ instead; 2) left blank; 3) marked “X”; or 4) changed ex post facto many years later. This shows the result of a specific activist project and achievement, the purpose of which is to conflate sex with gender. A forceful construction of fluidity onto a fact of objective reality.

      Also, does discovery of XX/XY gene/chromo require an invasive exam? Isn’t that a lab test?

      1. Yes a cheek swab for sex chromosomes is easy and non-invasive. But sex chromosomes are in some ways secondary sex traits: they evolve in response to selection acting on sex-specific gene expression. Many animals and plants have genetic sex determination but don’t have sex chromosomes. Sorry it’s complicated, Jerry could explain it better than I could, but chromosomes and karyotype are not the primary sex trait. Gamete type is the primary sex trait, and it’s not examined at birth. The sex on a birth certificate is based on secondary sex traits, I guess mainly what the external genitals look like.

        1. @ Mike

          [This is not a challenge. It is a request for clarity.]

          Are you saying a person could have XY chromosomes and male sex organs and testes, but “later” evolve to somehow express ova and therefor not be a man by sex?

          Or the obverse, XX and ovaries at birth, but later express sperm?

          What does “… evolve in response to selection acting on sex-specific gene expression” mean in this context?

          1. Woops sorry that was unclear on my part. No, a person couldn’t evolve that way. But a lineage of different species could evolve that way.

            In many species, each individual has male or female sex organs, and that difference is genetically determined (similar to the Sry gene that causes about half of humans to develop into males), but in those organisms the sex-determining gene(s) is not on a sex chromosome that has unusual sex-specific gene content (like the X and the Y in humans and other mammals). Instead the sex-determining genes may be on one or more indistinct chromosomes along with lots of other genes.

            A species like that can evolve to acquire sex chromosomes. That evolution involves mutations called translocations in which genes that tend to work together to generate male- or female-specific phenotypes are swapped from one chromosome to another so that those sex-specific genes are inherited together. Selection can favour those mutations because they help ensure all of the traits that benefit males are inherited together in sons, and over time the male-specific genes end up together on the Y chromosome (and genes that are not male-specific are favoured to be translocated to one of the other non-sex-chromosomes called autosomes). But that change evolves over many generations, it’s not a trait that changes for a single individual within one generation.

            Sorry it is so complicated. I hope that’s a better explanation (or that someone else can provide a better one).

          2. John:
            > Are you saying a person could have XY chromosomes and male sex organs and testes, but “later” evolve to somehow express ova and therefor not be a man by sex?

            They are still testicles, but they are internal.

            Check out the episode of House MD, Skin Deep. (Sorry for the spoiler)

            > Or the obverse, XX and ovaries at birth, but later express sperm?

            Nope. It’s one-way. I’ve heard it crudely put that we all start off as fetuses with female characteristics, and testosterone pushes male fetuses to develop masculine characteristics. Those with testosterone insensitivity do not develop in such a way. Not mu field, though.

        2. The XY chromosome pair (the presence of functional Y) drives male development. Otherwise, a female phenotype results. XY is in no sense a secondary sex characteristic.

          Secondaries include:
          Physical development of shoulders, hips, bones, muscles
          Pubic and body hair
          Breast development in females

          (I can highly recommend the book T by Carole Hooven.)

      1. Then women athletes will just have to stand united and refuse to compete with men. No field, no competition. It’s their sport. We can’t do it for them.

        1. Yes, I think this is what it will have to come down to. The women sports stars are all young. Are they too woke to take such a stand? I hope not.

    2. And phenotypic girls with complete androgen insensitivity go through childhood and early adolescence with no indication whatsoever that they aren’t XX females until they are investigated for never getting a menstrual period. The DSD rules allow them to compete as female, straightforwardly, no problem. Some of the other DSDs are tougher to adjudicate. Even a common condition like polycystic ovaries can cause elevated testosterone. But at least the athletes are XX and “look” female, so there is no objection that they are dissembling. The only question is whether their condition gives them an unfair advantage, particularly if the focus was on testosterone alone. (Which has to be tested anyway as part of doping detection.)

      1. @ Leslie MacMillan

        I am not informed on these terms, so I’ll just ask for clarity … are you speaking of born-girls with all the female reproductive organs and no male organs, but on testing they show elevated T? Isn’t that a girl/woman/female by sex, except for the elevated T? Thank you.

        1. Yes, you are correct. When I said they “look” female, I just meant they are girls in every ordinary way that we and their parents regard them. If, at puberty, they develop a medical condition that causes increased T, they remain girls and women in every way. Even if they had more male-typical body hair and had problems with their periods it would not make them anything other than women. The individual might or might not want or need to have the condition treated on its own merits as a matter of medical choice.

          The only wrinkle comes when she competes in elite sport and has to pass a doping test. If T is elevated, the problem for the adjudicators (who know nothing of the athlete’s medical history at this point) is to first rule out doping (easy to do) and then make a ruling as to whether the elevated T indicates a DSD that gives an unfair performance advantage. To do this properly requires more thorough differential diagnosis to find exactly why the T is elevated, which is above my competence and would be off topic. The whole affair was bitterly contested in the Olympic year and our host did a nice review of it a couple months ago. T levels don’t tell the whole story but they are the essential entry point given its importance as a doping agent in women and as a pointer to a DSD.

          1. Thank you for the explanation.

            Question: even if DSD is diagnosed, isn’t the individual still able to be placed in either man or woman categories by sex?

            I suspect activists would fight against that with heat. But really, is there such a thing as a human with enough physical ambiguity — on all physical levels — to be legally by sex pronounced neither/both?

            1. This is harder to answer than it seems but at the risk of over-commenting I’ll try. Every person is “different” in his or her own way. Some general principles depending on when in life the question comes up:
              1) When a child is born with straightforwardly typical external genitalia, sex assignment occurs in about 2 seconds. (Now with routine prenatal ultrasound most parents know the sex long before birth.). Nothing that happens subsequently will change the sex role the person adopts for life. If a girl is found years later to be XY and have high T in adolescence, she will still be a girl/woman. She will not be able to conceive as the Y chromosome suppressed the primordial uterus and ovaries. But legally, she’s female because that’s the role she has lived. No one would try to “make her into a man” just because she was XY. Needless to say this is a profoundly unsettling fact to find out about yourself as a 13-year-old girl. Sensitive counselling from experts.
              Somewhat ditto with boys found at puberty to be XXY.

              2) If the genitalia looked ambiguous at delivery (or on ultrasound), then immediate investigation of the infant is necessary to make a diagnosis so the parents can be counselled about how they want to raise the child. It’s not that the kids have bits of both, it’s that the labia kind of look like a scrotum and the clitoris looks like a small penis. You would want to know if the baby has testes or ovaries as these may well function normally at puberty. Surgery for associated abnormalities of the urinary tract might be necessary so important functions work. Knowing the chromotype as XX vs XY might not be relevant since the other kids in the locker room won’t see the chromosomes. So whatever sex the parents assign for rearing will be the child’s legal sex. And the whole story will be disclosed to him or her in an age-appropriate manner especially as puberty approaches.

              3) True hermaphroditism, partial formation of internal or external sex organs of both sexes in the same individual, is so vanishingly rare that I can’t make any intelligent comment about sex assignment.

              1. @ Leslie MacMillan

                re: 1) “… But legally, she’s female because that’s the role she has lived.” Because musculature, lung capacity, and other female norms have become permanent. Right?

                re: 2a) hmmm. I sense a problem. #2 is not not #3, so why does it pivot on what the parents choose? She is still objectively male sex or female sex.

                re: 2b) “You would want to know if the baby has testes or ovaries as these may well function normally at puberty.” isn’t that an understatement? ovaries, uterus, clitoris, vagina — absent male organs. And not just because of what happens later, rather as objective indication for which sex she is now.

                re: 2c) “assigning” sex (not speaking of gender here) when there is objective delineation, for whatever comfort reason, would not affect the issue at hand here — the expression of body development in terms of upper body strength, lung capacity, etc. Additionally, assigned sex opposite objective sex might solve one set of comfort/esteem issues, but really doesn’t it set the girl (using our current example) up for vastly more troublesome issues?

              2. @ John Donahue

                All your questions now involve the detailed medical, psychological, and social support of a unique, albeit hypothetical, person, and, in the case of an infant or minor child, the parents. I really can’t comment further, because I have neither all the relevant facts about that person nor the expertise.

                I’m also talking only about the general principles to help an affected child grow up happy and well adjusted to his or her biological reality. It is a lighter cross to bear than many children have. If the child has the endowment to become an elite athlete there will be additional questions to answer if “the way I was raised” does not match her chromosomes, which I have not even touched on. And I can’t. I’m just a simple country doctor.

              3. @ Leslie MacMillan


                I am off to get the answer to my new awareness that “assigned sex at birth” is an election by parents, and sometimes done opposite born-with sex. I did not know that prior to this thread.

                I always thought the phrase “sex assigned at birth” was odd, as if begging the question “Oh, you must believe in God. Who else could be the ‘assigner.”

                Now I know different.

  4. Do it the way they do it in thoroughbred racing. Distaff races are limited to fillies and/or mares. Open races have fillies, mares, colts, and horses competing. (Fillies have won 11 Triple Crown races.) Even geldings don’t get to compete in distaff races.

  5. This whole business is bedevilled by an inability to understand the distinction between (as JAC put it) the ‘is’ of science and the ‘ought’ of politics, and between thoughts and emotions. Science depends on thought; politics on feelings.

    1. > the ‘is’ of science and the ‘ought’ of politics

      And sports are political, from the incessant flag-waving and national anthems to the focus on ‘hometown heroes’. So none of this should really be a surprise.

      Setting up segregated sports leagues for different sexes was already too political. Now that the trend of ‘quota balancing’ integrated teams is becoming more widespread, I expect to see more mandatory quotas for more demographics.

  6. I would like to point readers to Abigail Shrier’s essay on Bari Weiss’s site (Jerry may have already done this, apologies if so).

    One money quote:

    We are, each day, force-fed falsehoods we are all expected to take seriously, on pain of forfeiting esteem and professional opportunity:

    “Some men have periods and get pregnant.”

    “Hard work and objectivity are hallmarks of whiteness.”

    “Only a child knows her own true gender.”

    “Transwomen don’t have an unfair advantage when playing girls’ sports.”

    On that final example of a lie, the one about transwomen in girls’ sports, I want you to think for a moment about a young woman here at Princeton. She’s a magnificent athlete named Ellie Marquardt, an all-American swimmer who set an Ivy League record in the 500-yard freestyle event as a freshman. Just before Thanksgiving, Ellie was defeated in the 500-free, the event she held the record in, by almost 14 seconds by a 22 year old biological male at Penn* who was competing on the men’s team as recently as November of 2019. That male athlete now holds multiple U.S. records in women’s swimming, erasing the hard work of so many of our best female athletes, and making a mockery of the rights women fought for generations to achieve.

    Ellie Marquart swam her heart out for Princeton. When will Princeton fight for her? Where are the student protests to say—enough is enough. When a biological male who has enjoyed the full benefits of male puberty—larger cardiovascular system, 40% more upper body muscle mass, more fast-twitch muscle fiber, more oxygenated blood—decides after three seasons on the men’s team to compete as a woman and smashes the records of the top female swimmers in this country, that is not valor. That’s vandalism.

    Where is the outrage? Imagine, for a second, what it must be like to be a female swimmer at Princeton, knowing you must pretend that this is fair—that the NCAA competition is anything other than a joke. Imagine being told to bite your tongue as men lecture you that you just need to swim harder. “Be grateful for your silver medals, ladies, and maybe work harder next time,” is the message. Imagine what that level of repression does to warp the soul.


    1. “Ellie was defeated in the 500-free, the event she held the record in, by almost 14 seconds by a 22 year old biological male at Penn*
      The transgender winner is morally corrupt IMO. A COMPLETE farce.

      1. Agreed. How could anyone take pleasure or get satisfaction from winning an unlosable competition.
        Such a scenario was made into the joke it is in a Seinfeld episode when Cramer was boasting about his karate prowess. He was top of his class, except it turned out that his class was all little children.
        They ganged up on him eventually and beat him up but the ‘gang’ in these odd times is allowing big to beat little.

  7. @ jblilie,

    Cynthia Millen, long time USA swimming official, resigned, and gave a flat-out slammin’ speech over this.

    I am not linking ….

    1) I would not link a Fox News or Newsmax video on this website, although that does not mean I personally reject their reporting.

    2) Fox Etc are the only ones reporting this!!! There are no links found for, for instance, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

    If you google “Cynthia Millen”, you’ll find video of her courageous and smashing resignation.

    1. I watched an interview with her on Newsmax (on YouTube). She seemed to go out of her way to be polite. But she’ll get death threats just the same. Also the interviewer didn’t have an obvious agenda.

      And Biden plans to extend Title IX to transgender, including school sports.

  8. I have made no secret of the fact that one of my kids, now an adult (barely) believes they are trans. Anyway, my wife related a conversation she had with the kid, that pretty much blew her mind, and had the same effect on me.
    The kid honestly believes that a measurable percentage of babies born in hospitals ( >1%) have ambiguous sex. When the doc sees this, they decide, without informing the parents, what sex the child will be, and then operate on the baby (once again, without informing the parents) to affirm the assigned sex. The child grows up into the assigned sex, with neither the child or parents ever knowing that this has been done. Further, that kids who become trans are likely to come from that group.
    Luckily the discussion was with my wife, who has delivered hundreds of babies (as a resident in a South Texas public hospital), and treated thousands more. She explained the impossibility of the claim on a number of levels, but we are not sure the kid is convinced.
    This is from a kid who is smarter than I ever will be, who declared religion absurd before the age of ten, and who is in every other way, scientifically literate and rational.

    This is not really about my kid, but is intended to illustrate the level of delusion and commitment to the ideas that we are dealing with when discussing trans issues.
    This relates to the question at hand in the sense that some of what we see, and claims we hear about trans people in sport, seems so obviously absurd that we doubt the person is being sincere in their claims.
    I will propose that it is entirely possible that they do believe all of it. That a person can grow up as a healthy male, participate in sports at a high level, then one day realize that they are actually a girl. At that moment, they become a girl in every way. The clear evidence that this is not so becomes invisible to them. It is about the frailty of the human mind, not any particular individual failing, although some people are more susceptible than others.

    Your graphs and data point out and quantify what has been common knowledge since before we became human. To truly believe otherwise is to be deluded. Those delusions are not easily dispelled. Of course there is another group that profess to believe, but do so out of fear of being denounced or attacked. Or just to be polite.

    1. The thing is that some believe the “assigned at birth” nonsense even if there is no ambiguity. Some think that it is completely random. Some believe that girls are not as good at sports only because they are not expected to be and are fed differently. (I am not making this up.)

      Bringing intersexual people into the trans discussion is bad on many levels. Not only do they have practically nothing to do with one another (though some trans people are intersexual and the “wrong” choice was made, but not without the knowledge of the parents, at least in most cases), but most intersexual people don’t want to be forced into one or the other category, because they are neither, whereas most trans people do, which is sort of the whole point, but just into the wrong category.

    2. I am far removed from being up to date on the claims that doctors can do surgery without informing the parents, but what I’ve heard is that this has happened, but that tends to be some decades ago. I saw a news bit, for example, where the parents were dismissively told as much after the doctor cut off their babies undersized penis and testicles (!). The kid was raised as a girl, but later learned the truth and bc he identified as a male he switched to being that – but he was forever a eunuch, basically. And I don’t think they could sue or anything.
      Its my understanding that the policies have long been to not do that. But practices in the past were pretty damn brutal.

      1. I have read the same thing, but have not been able to find clear data on where and when this happened, or how often.
        My point was that some significant portion of trans people and their advocates believe that this is an ongoing thing, and that it involves a very large number of kids. Beyond the idea of parental consent, which likely was different in the past, there is the issue of believing that a doctor can make such an assignment, perform some procedures, and the child will grow to develop secondary sex characteristics and experience puberty as “assigned”. Without a lifetime of hormone treatments.

        I think it is probably a way to rationalize the born into the wrong body argument, which is itself fairly unscientific.

        Speaking a bit more to Dr. Blancke about the issue, it appears that something like 1 in every 14K babies appear somewhat sexually ambiguous at birth. Almost all of those can have their sex identified upon closer examination, and certainly with blood testing or an ultrasound. They generally have treatable disorders.

        But as P. Helbig brought up above, these extremely rare incidents are unrelated to the vast majority of trans people. It is not a physical disorder which can be tested for, diagnosed, and treated. It is a delusion, and one that seems to often occur in clusters of unrelated kids who go to the same school or attend other shared groups. The common element seems to be internet groups, teachers or counselors. Either it is contagious, or it is transmitted verbally. There are probably exceptions, but that has been my observation.
        We parents mostly need to rely on our own experiences or that of others like us, because no legitimate mental health professional is willing to risk diagnosing or attempting to treat trans kids. There is just lots of affirmation.

      1. Thank you (and Dr. Coyne) for letting me vent. However, we are better off than most. My kid is doing wondrously well in a very hard academic discipline, and we have a good family relationship.
        Critically, nothing has been done that cannot be reasonably undone.
        Of course we worry, but lots of parents have more serious worries than we do, at least so far. There is a change in tone when you go from thinking “something has gone wrong with my child”, and start to realize that “someone has done this to my child, and I might have been able to stop it if I had known earlier”.
        It is kind of like when parents at a large children’s cancer center talk, and start to discover that a large percentage of them live in the same neighborhood, and find that it used to be a dump for industrial sludge. except in this case, they share schools, particular school counselors, and a couple of therapists (and a church group!) that the counselors tend to refer the kids and parents to.
        There are probably kids that exhibit nonbinary behavior from an early age, and for whom the trans thing is a proposed solution to a long-term problem. I want to be clear that I am not talking about such kids. My kid’s peers had completely normal childhoods, and experienced puberty in normal and unremarkable ways. These kids started questioning their gender and sex at around 15 years old. some were a year younger or older, but the issue developed more or less simultaneously in all of them,several the same school.
        Importantly, almost all of them have become not only trans, but gay, in the sense that the boys who believe they are girls primarily date girls or girls who think they are boys.
        To be clear, my observations are my own, and based on what I know of my child’s experience, and from having interacted with lots of local trans kids and their parents. I don’t have anything to do with any parent’s organization, as they seem to largely be religious zealots or affimational, and unlikely to make our personal lives any better.
        I will absolutely be front and center when the class action and malpractice lawsuits start. That seems a better outlet for my anger than more kinetic action that would be counterproductive.

        1. ” Importantly, almost all of them have become not only trans, but gay, in the sense that the boys who believe they are girls primarily date girls or girls who think they are boys.”

          Is that what you meant to write? Yes, language suffers when discussing the woke, but I am struggling to see that as a definition of “gay”.

          1. I will rephrase it. The people born as boys, choose to live not only as female, but as lesbians, except that they also date biological girls who identify as boys.
            The situation for girls that think they are boys is similar.
            This is obviously not a universal thing, but seems to be the common pattern.

            My understanding of the reasoning behind it is that a heterosexual person tends to idealize members of the opposite sex. A trans person might take that idealization to the point of wanting to be one.
            The reality is that they don’t really want to be a member of the opposite sex, but want to be how they imagine the opposite sex to live. How they imagine that to be is largely driven by their biological sex. Once they decide to transition, they don’t start automatically desiring members of their former sex.

            It is complicated, and likely only a specific subgroup of trans individuals.

    1. Careful there in assigning GOAT to S. Williams. She has 1 more Grand Slam win than Steffi Graf; but the consensus is, based on their records and the consistency of their dominance, that SG was the GOAT. Of course this can never be properly adjudicated.

      Ask Chris Evert or Martina Navratilova.

      I am a very avid tennis fan. I’ve seen the slam wins of both SW and SG. SG had a much more complete game that SW. SG invented the modern style of playing. She had more tools in her toolbox than anyone else at the time, except for Martina.

      To me, it’s a toss-up between Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. I lean towards Martina, based on her singles+doubles performance and her incredible longevity at the top of the sport.

      All that said, good for SW for saying what she did.

      At the righthand tail of the performance distributions, there’s no overlap between the men and the women (in almost every sport).

      1. Alright, alright, I was exaggerating to hammer home my point, which you described nicely in your last paragraph. 🤝 Personally, I’ve always been blown away by awesome Martina, and, yes, Steffi was amazing. Serena is their rightful heir.

  9. Given that drawing lines in a multidimensional continuum is always arbitrary to some degree;
    Given that no one chooses their full genetic complement (and few of us choose gene therapy at all);
    Given that within biological males there is a wide variation of inborn athletic potential;
    And likewise for females;
    — why is it unfair to just stick with the testosterone-based rules for Women’s Olympic Sports?

    The current rules were drawn with the intention of creating a level playing field, or should I say two level playing fields. Do intentions matter?

    Okay, partly I’m trolling. But not entirely. I highly doubt that if the current rules are maintained, trans women will take home the majority of medals in Women’s Olympics. In some sports they will, and in others they won’t. It will still be a contest worth watching. I’m not seeing why that isn’t good enough.

    1. If they stick to less than 10 nml they will eventually take home most of the medals.

      Which sports do envision not being dominated by testosterone soaked male puberty having persons?
      10 nMol is still up to ten times more than an average female has.

      Maybe you think women’s gymnastics? Then I saw some Olympic champion women gymnasts watching some guys do some of the routines. They were amazed.

  10. Even it there wasn’t an athletic difference, women sports should be protected as a safe space where biological men are not allowed.

  11. However, school sports tend to promote team play, skill acquisition, and social development …

    I’ve seen some trans rights supporters insisting that this is indeed the purpose of sports — ALL sports — teamwork, skills, fun, building character, and getting exercise. Competition, with its “winners” and “losers,” instills the mindset of colonialist conquerors. Can’t we just celebrate watching people striving to do their best, whatever it is?

    I don’t know. That might be the new frontier. It’s not “fair,” but it’s right. Diversity and inclusion are more important than who beats whom. They’re all winners. It will certainly appeal to those who think the entire issue boils down to “can’t we just be kind?”

    1. People will never go for “trophies for everyone”. At least the ticket-buying and pay-for-view buying pubic won’t.

      IMO, sports are a modern, civilized substitute for combat. People want a winner, a champion, want to talk about who was the greatest, etc.

      I think this helps explain the disparity in popularity of women’s team sports vs. men’s team sports.

    2. Sports participation has a lot of advantages. I had not given it all that much thought until my oldest started to apply for military scholarships. Sports participation, especially leadership, was very high on their “want” list.
      The leadership thing is sort of obvious, as someone who has captained several sports teams in elementary and high school is likely to have some natural leadership abilities. But just basic good sportsmanship means a lot in a competitive social situation. Experience in losing gracefully may not seem optimal for a military officer, but most of military life is training. In training, you are often bested by your peers. People who can shake hands, smile, and go out to the pub after losing, and learn from their mistakes, are a better fit than those who fly into a rage or become demoralized the first time things do not go their way.
      You also need to be able to turn “it” off when the battle or engagement ends, and have the fortitude to go back out there for the next mission. Some people just cannot do those things. Sports may not be a perfect simulation of that, but it is something.

  12. It is fun competing in stuff. Winning is good and losing can be good if you try hard and see the other has done just that bit better.
    Depending on a roughly equal playing field.

    “Can’t we just be kind” sounds nice but when an ex male who is 50% or more stronger and tougher than a female in a mixed martial arts competition is beating tha absolute bejeebus out of ‘her’, it is not very kind, if you ask me.

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