Boy Bodies Rule
- In February 2019, two trans athletes (who were born male and identify as female) took first and second place at the Connecticut state high school track championship.
- In 2018, before the USAPL changed their rules, JayCee Cooper, a trans powerlifter, set records in women's bench press after only having powerlifted for a year.
- In 2018, trans cyclist, Rachel McKinnon, took first among the women at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championship.
- In 2017, transgender weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, set master's world records and won the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
- In 2014, transgender pro MMA fighter Fallon Fox beat Tamikka Brents, giving her a concussion and broken orbital bone.
This is just a small glimpse of sporting events in which trans women – who were born male and went through puberty as males – have dominated. And we can expect to see more of this as the amount of male-born athletes signing up to compete as women increases.
To make things clear:
- A trans woman is a person who was born male (with XY chromosomes) and identifies as female. They're often described as MTF or male-to-female athletes.
- A trans man is a person who was born female (with XX chromosomes) and identifies as male. They're often referred to as FTM or female-to-male athletes.
Most sporting federations have no problem allowing trans men to compete as biological men. Why? Because they can affirm their identities, inject testosterone, and play against men who naturally make a lot of testosterone.
But things get trickier when trans women, who have XY chromosomes and have gone through puberty before transitioning, want to compete against biological women, who make significantly less testosterone. And even with medical intervention (hormonal modifications and surgery), their physical advantages can't be ignored.
Photo Credit: CFA / Rolando De La Fuente
It's Not About Politics. It's About Biology.
Most people don't care how anyone else identifies. If you're trans, most people want you to live your life however you see fit, just as long as it doesn't hurt them.
But that's the crux of the situation. If a biological woman invests a lot of time preparing for a competition, and then the playing field becomes significantly un-leveled, it does hurt her.
It hurts her chances of getting a scholarship, earning a title she worked for, turning pro, making it to the Olympics, winning a cash prize, setting a prestigious record, or in certain cases, it may irreparably damage her body, depending on the sport.
Granted, this is not an easy situation... especially if you're the head of a sports federation. If you don't comply with trans-activism, you run the risk of getting sued and being smeared all over the media as a bigoted organization. Your image will suffer.
But if people who are born male, and who've spent their formative teen years as a male with no intervention, are allowed to compete against women, then ultimately it'll be a no-win situation for biological female athletes.
The Advantages of Being Born Male
Some people like to say that there's a level playing field between biological women and trans women because, depending on their sporting federation, trans women must suppress their testosterone production for a period of time – usually a year.
That part is true, athletic federations don't all have the same requirements (we'll cover those in a minute) but most require their testosterone levels to be below a certain point.
For instance, the International Olympic Committee requires that a man transitioning into a woman must "demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition"(1).
And this might be an acceptable rule if biological women produced anywhere near that amount. But they don't. Most people aren't familiar with the average testosterone levels for women, so let's examine that number a little more closely.
Most experts say that the average testosterone production for biological females ranges between 0.52 to 2.8 nmol/L. The Mayo Clinic put that range even lower (2). And while experts may vary in what they consider average among females, the consensus is almost always below 3 nanomoles/L.
But remember, federations like the IOC require a male-born person to suppress and maintain testosterone production at 10 nanomoles/L.
So even if a woman was genetically blessed with testosterone levels that reached 3 nmol/L, that would still be less than half of what a trans woman would be allowed to have during the competition. To look at it another way, her male-born competitor would have just over three times as much testosterone, even with hormone-altering drugs.
And yes, there are occurrences of female outliers who have elevated testosterone production from things that affect hormonal output, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, but those are rare occurrences in which their hormones may still remain below 10 nmol/L. And these outliers won't have the advantage of going through puberty with the peak testosterone production of a young man.
So, trans women's T-levels are still astonishingly higher than what any biological woman would be able to achieve without the assistance of exogenous hormones. Of course, if you test a woman who's been juicing, her T-levels will be much higher than the average range for females. But most athletic federations still ban steroid use, which begs the next question...
Would a female athlete be tempted to use steroids if she knew her competitors had biological male advantages?
The Other Benefits Of Being Male-Born
But let's just pretend that trans women were required to sufficiently lower their levels to that of an average biological women. The next thing we'd have to acknowledge is that the amount of testosterone they previously produced will have had a huge impact on their anatomy and physiology.
Dr. Antonia Lee, an elite coach with degrees in science and sports medicine, recently wrote:
"Testosterone during growth, puberty and maturation results in quite remarkable differences between the sexes. Testosterone in males at puberty drives: an increase in bone size and density; an increase in muscle size and strength; an increase in the tensile strength of ligaments and connective tissue; an increase in red blood cells... the list is extensive."
She goes on to say that, "The fastest female sprinter in the world is easily beaten by male club athletes (3)."
In an interview, physiology professor Alison Heather said,
"The physiological attributes of males that makes them naturally stronger include anatomical and biological features such as size, muscle mass, lung capacity, and heart size (4)."
Research has also shown that the male-born have greater concentrations of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) in their bodies during physical exertion. Epinephrine and norepinephrine increase cardiac output, prepare the body for fight or flight, and raise alertness (5).
Male bodies – no matter how much testosterone is currently in them – have an obvious physiological advantage. And to deny this fact is delusional. Researching the differences between men and women will tell you this, but all you really have to do is open your eyes. Or just ask the teenage girls who are getting smoked by their biological male opponents.
When people talk about the biological advantages of the male-born, nobody mentions that they don't have the same obstacles as women. We have a naturally higher body fat percentage, which isn't terribly conducive to speed or relative strength, and a greater Q angle caused by a wider pelvis, which contributes to more knee injuries.
Or how about the simple fact that if you're born male, you don't have periods? Trans women will never know how excruciating it can be when your uterus is shedding its lining during practice or competition day.
And nobody talks about how women's testosterone (what little we DO make) naturally fluctuates, so when we're producing our highest amount we don't get to keep it for long. The monthly peak is much shorter than its surrounding valleys. We don't get to just maintain it at 10 nmol/L. If we did do that, that would be cheating, according to the rules.
The male-born will likely never experience the iron deficiencies related to the combination of hard training and heavy menstrual flow. Nor will they ever have to worry about the female athletic triad, a condition that occurs when a woman's activity level drives her hormones down to a point at which she stops having a period and, as a result, her bone mineral density decreases (common in endurance athletes) (6).
None of these differences between biological males and females are mentioned in the articles praising trans competitors as "groundbreaking," "brave," or "heroic."
The "It's Just a Game" Argument
Another argument people make on behalf of transgender athletes is that sports are just a game, and there's no need to want a level playing field because athletic competition is ultimately for funsies. People usually say these things in relation to high school athletics.
It's a sexist sentiment. Nobody's telling boys on the football team to take their sport less seriously, yet here they are telling young women,
"How dare you want to win; athletics are just for fun, so shut up and compete with people you don't stand a chance against."
If sports are only for fun, shall we just stop keeping score? And shall we eliminate all rules that keep people from competing outside of ANY biological class? If their chosen identity is what determines their division – instead of objective biological markers – then common sense divisions will eventually cease to exit.
And if a 51-year old 6'8" man wanted to identify as a women's college basketball athlete, he'd be able to join their team and help these young ladies clobber their competitors. Absurd, right? You probably think it'd never get to that point.
But it did. That's exactly what happened at San Joaquin Delta College in Northern California (7). The slope has been slipped.
Granted, some sports can be just for fun. But when your college tuition is on the line, or when you're a young woman trying to catch a recruiter's attention, or when you're spending lots of time training for a competition to win a cash prize, everything changes.
Heck, it changes if you've worked hard to win a local 5K. If you've been investing time and energy to win something and you come in second to a person with a significantly larger lung span and heart, then yes, that changes everything too. Doesn't matter how small the prize is, it'd still suck.
The time you spend working on your craft means something. And it's shat on when someone can swoop in and crush you – not necessarily because they were more disciplined in their training or developed more skill – but because they were born with a penis and all the perks that came along with it.
Sports are such a big part of global entertainment, but if you put a trans woman against a biological woman, there won't be any mystery about who will win. Sure, it'll be a spectacle at first, but eventually it'll get old. And it's not fun to watch an event when the results are pretty much predetermined.
Maybe some sadists enjoyed watching the trans MMA fighter knock out a woman, but it didn't sit well with a lot of people. And in individual sports like that, where women could be seriously hurt, the judges might as well preemptively hand the first place prize to the trans athlete, and then have the biological women battle it out to see who comes in second.
If enough trans women enter competitions against biological women, we'll all start thinking of second place as the REAL first place. Many probably already do.
And if THIS hasn't become a common thought-process, it will be:
"She came in second, but the winner was born a dude, so she won out of the women's category. The judges know it too, but they have to play along with the charade."
The Current Rules and Regs
I'd hate to be in charge of any sports federation right now. To be "fair" to a very small group (0.6% of the population), a much larger group (50.8% of the population) must have their chances of winning greatly diminished.
Trans activism has put federations in this position. Because if they do the right thing, their federation will be smeared, protested, labeled discriminatory, or get sued.
Here are a few rules of the sports federations. We won't cover every single one. Though by and large, most are similar to that of the IOC.
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Trans women must declare their gender legally (government identification) and their status can't be changed for a minimum of four years after the competition. They must also suppress their testosterone to a level of 10 nmol/L for 12 months (1).
Pre-pubescent kids may compete as the gender with which they identify. Post-pubescent MTF competitors must suppress their testosterone for two years (8).
No policy found in the major federations. However transgender competitors have competed in the NPC (National Physique Committee). One of the most recent was a MTF women’s physique competitor who won her category.
One could argue that bodybuilding-style competitions are determined by aesthetics (which are subjective), rather than performance-based, and that trans women retain no advantage. This would be a fair point to make. However, in the physique division, it’s necessary for women to display conspicuous muscle mass, which would be easier to achieve if you transitioned to a woman after puberty, and acquired muscle mass as a biological male.
The Strongman Corporation is the only strongman organization with an official policy found. Theirs mirrors the IOC.
To compete at the Open (a stepping stone to the CrossFit Games), MTF athletes must have civil documentation confirming their registered gender. They must also show that their gender in everyday life matches their registered gender. If these athletes go on to compete at the Games, the rules are much like those of the IOC with maintained suppression of testosterone at 10 nmol/L for 12 months (9).
USA Powerlifting USAPL
Trans women are no longer allowed to compete as women (10). Who knew powerlifting would be the only strength sport standing up for women's rights?
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is working to change that though. In a letter she wrote to USAPL, she stated, "The myth that trans women have a 'direct competitive advantage' is not supported by medical science, and it continues to stoke fear and violence against one of the most at-risk committees in the world." (You can see the rest of her letter where she posted it on Twitter.)
Most college sporting events are organized by the NCAA (National College Athletic Association) but there are some which aren't and may have different policies (11). The NCAA says that a trans female "may not compete on a women's team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment." NCAA athletes transitioning from male to female are required to suppress their testosterone production (to the level that's still much higher than a biological female's) for a year.
Public High Schools
The rules vary depending on the states:
- In 17 states, like Connecticut, transgender teens are allowed to compete as their chosen gender. This is true even if they've gone through puberty as biological males. There are no regulations requiring them to suppress their testosterone or have surgery. A male can declare he's female and immediately proceed to crush the girls in competition.
- In 17 other states, schools are allowed to set their own policies. This means modification may be required, or trans athletes may be allowed to compete as their affirmed gender on a case-by-case basis.
- In 9 states, male-born athletes are not allowed to compete with biological females.
- The remaining states have no policy yet (12).
8 Tough Questions We Have to Ask
- What happens when all these sports are dominated by those who were born (and went through puberty) as males? What are the consequences for young women and their scholarship opportunities?
- Will female athletes in certain sports – when pressured by competing against biological males – start considering performance enhancing drugs when it hadn't crossed their minds before?
- Should federations allow women to start blood doping or taking SARMS and steroids, if they're going to allow male-born humans to compete against them?
- Will coaches see transgender athletes as an opportunity to get their girls to win? A teammate with a wider wingspan, hand span, heart, lungs, and stature could help the team dominate their opponents.
- Are you ready to see your teenage daughters not just lose, but get pummeled in contact sports by male-born teenagers who are producing peak level testosterone?
- Will the Olympics be as exciting when nearly every "woman" on the winner's podium has a prostate?
- Will some take advantage of this in sports where there's a lot of prestige or prize money? After all, trans women won't just collect the winnings, they'll be heralded as "heroic role models" for their groundbreaking performance. Fame and money have been known to make people do some pretty dishonest things.
- Isn't it fair to say that even if some males identify as female, their bodies simply do not?
Is Wanting Fairness For Biological Women Transphobic?
This issue is NOT about whether you love or hate trans people; it's about the death of women's sports.
Nobody is saying trans people should not compete. The more people involved in sports the better, but the clear solution is separate divisions. Division in sports is not discriminatory; it never has been. Most sports already have divisions including sex, weight, and age.
If biological women get fed up and stop participating, then trans athletes might just be competing amongst themselves anyway.
I know what's coming though. If you're a person who's blinded by social justice and political correctness, you're going to see my position as anti-trans. But if that's the only conclusion you come to, maybe you need to examine your anti-female ideology.
Legendary tennis player, Martina Navratilova, has also stood up for the athletic rights of women and girls. She said,
"I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair (13)."
Navratilova, who's said to be one of the leading advocates for gay rights, was removed from her position in the non-profit group, Athlete Ally, because of her beliefs.
Her advocacy for the LGBT community makes it obvious that she doesn't hate trans people. She just doesn't like the idea of a person who's acquired male athletic advantages competing against those who haven't. But don't be surprised if she gets bullied into changing her position on the subject.
Sharron Davies, who won a silver medal in swimming in the 1980 Olympics, also tweeted:
"I have nothing against anyone who wishes to be transgender. However, I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex you are born with and the gender you may identify as. To protect women's sport, those with a male sex advantage should not be able to compete in women's sport."
She later said in an interview that all the international athletes she's spoken with agree with her position, but they're afraid to speak out. As expected, Davies has been labeled as transphobic.
Trans women competing against biological women poses a problem. And the implications of it are huge. If more and more adult male athletes transition into females, there won't be any reason for young ladies to practice, or even dream about their future in sports anymore.
As little girls, my best friend and I took tennis lessons. We dreamed about becoming famous doubles partners and competing at Wimbledon. In our minds, anything was possible.
As she and I got older, we switched to cross country and track. We preferred to run, and sometimes our team dominated. Sometimes it didn't. But the sky was the limit and the competition was always fair. We never had to question that.
If more states become like Connecticut, young women won't get to experience what we did. And as more MTF teens sign up to compete, how many generations of biological girls won't be allowed to win?
If they dare question what's going on, they'll be bullied by the pandering mainstream media and labeled transphobes. They may even be punished for their opinions.
They'll lose before they even get the chance to play.
Editor’s Note: Since this article was originally published, two studies – one from the Journal of Medical Ethics and one from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden – have found that biological men who transition to women retain athletic advantages even after a year of testosterone suppression (14,15).
Related: Women in Ground Combat
Related: The Female Low Testosterone Epidemic
Resources and References
- IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and ...Nov. 2015, stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/Medical_commission/2015-11_ioc_consensus_meeting_on_sex_reassignment_and_hyperandrogenism-en.pdf.
- "Test ID: TTFB Testosterone, Total, Bioavailable, and Free, Serum." BUN - Clinical: Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Serum, www.mayocliniclabs.com/test-catalog/Clinical and Interpretive/83686.
- Lee, Antonia. "Transgender Sporting Participation: Time to Frame the Debate." Medium.com, Medium, 27 Feb. 2019, medium.com/@Antonia_Lee/transgender-sporting-participation-time-to-frame-the-debate-b78bac4308b2.
- Caldwell, Olivia. "Professor of Physiology Says Transgender Athletes Have Advantage in Speed, Power." Stuff, www.stuff.co.nz/sport/other-sports/99434993/professor-of-physiology-says-trans-athlete-has-advantage-in-speed-and-power.
- Brooks, S. et al. (1990). The hormonal responses to repetitive brief maximal exercise in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 60, 144-148.
- Beals, K A, and M M Manore. "Disorders of the Female Athlete Triad among Collegiate Athletes." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12432173.
- Large, Steve. "6-Foot-8 Transgender Player Takes Court Against Delta College Women's Team." CBS Sacramento, CBS Sacramento, 18 Dec. 2012, sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/12/18/6-foot-8-transgender-player-takes-court-against-delta-college/.
- USA Weightlifting Policy for Transgender Inclusion Updated ...www.teamusa.org/-/media/USA_Weightlifting/Documents/Athlete-Programs/Policies/USAW-Transgender-Policy-FINAL-R1.pdf.
- "TRANSATHLETE Organization & Governing Body Policy." TRANSATHLETE - Transgender Athlete Policy, www.transathlete.com/policies-by-organization.
- USA Powerlifting, www.usapowerlifting.com/transgender-participation-policy/.
- "TRANSATHLETE College Transgender Athlete Policies." TRANSATHLETE - Transgender Athlete Policy, www.transathlete.com/policies-college.
- "TRANSATHLETE High School Transgender Athlete Policies." TRANSATHLETE - Transgender Athlete Policy, www.transathlete.com/k-12.
- Wellemeyer, James. "Martina Navratilova Removed from Athlete Ally Board Over Trans Athletes Comments." Pride Source, Pride Source, pridesource.com/article/martina-navratilova-removed-from-athlete-ally-board-over-trans-athletes-comments/.
- Knox, Taryn, et al. "Transwomen in Elite Sport: Scientific and Ethical Considerations." Journal of Medical Ethics, Institute of Medical Ethics, 1 June 2019, jme.bmj.com/content/45/6/395.
- Lundberg, TR, et al. "Muscle Strength, Size and Composition Following 12 Months of Gender-Affirming Treatment in Transgender Individuals: Retained Advantage for the Transwomen." BioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Jan. 2019, www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/782557v1.