Sharron Davies' book on transgender women in sport argues that they have an unfair advantage, a claim that has been criticized by many transgender advocates.
Sharron Davies’ book on transgender women in sport argues that they have an unfair advantage, a claim that has been criticized by many transgender advocates.
In the summer of 2023, a new book appeared on the shelf of Waterstones and other book retailers, Unfair Play: The Battle for Women’s Sport, authored by former swimmer Sharron Davies and supported by Craig Lord.
No one doubts the issue of trans women competing in the female category of sport is contentious. The antagonist argument is well documented, and celebs and politicians such as Peers Morgan, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have all voiced their opinions.
The real issue, though, is this….was there ever a battle to save women’s sports?
Or is it all made up?
In this article, we argue there wasn’t a battle, but there was and still is a campaign to ban trans people from competing in sports, and we would argue the so-called “open” categories that some sports have adopted is blatant transphobia.
In 2022 the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published statistics showing just 0.5% of the population of England and Wales identified as a different gender than their sex assigned at birth. Breaking the stats down further and excluding those who are non-binary, just 48,000 were trans women, and the exact same figure were trans men. In comparison, the ONS report there are 30,420,100 natal females. Simple maths tells us that natal females outnumber trans women by the ratio of six hundred and thirty-three to one.
Basic maths proves trans women will never dominate women’s sports events.
However, very few trans women compete in any activity or sport – indeed, many are afraid to leave their homes for fear of abuse on our streets, with the charity Galop reporting in their Transphobic Hate Crime Report (p6) “nearly 7 in 10 said that their daily routine has been affected by transphobia, with more 5 in 10 of these respondents feeling less able to leave the house due to transphobia.”
We suspect Sharron Davies is aware that Freedom of information requests made on the 17th of November 2021 to thirty-one sport’s governing bodies in the UK, including athletics, swimming, rugby, football and tennis, that showed just 63 athletes had applied for inclusion in their trans policies and narrowing that down to Olympic sports that figure reduced to just 19 athletes. In terms of the percentage of all athletes in Olympic sports, the figure was just 0.000006% – that’s a ratio of over eight hundred thousand cisgender women athletes to one trans woman.
Sharron Davies will be aware that in 2003 the International Olympic Committee voted to allow trans people to participate in the Olympics – none did, resulting in a relaxation of the rules in 2015. Since 2004 one estimate suggests, seventy-one thousand athletes have competed in Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Still, only one trans woman has competed in the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand, who participated in 2020 in Japan … she came last.
Laurel Hubbard suffered horrific transphobia, as did Lia Thomas, another trans woman who won a gold medal in 2022, winning the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Championships, a multi-discipline sports event for college students in the US. Formerly known as ‘The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, and established in 1905 before changing its name to the National Collegiate Athletic Championship (NCAA) in 1910. Normally the British press would never report on NCAA results, but in regards to Lia Thomas, they most certainly did.
Thomas became the first trans women gold medallist in swimming in its 117-year history.
Numerous press articles suggest Lia Thomas was a cheat, with few countering all the lies. However, the independent newspaper in the UK disagreed with a headline saying: “Critics accuse trans swimming star Lia Thomas of having an unfair advantage. The data tells a different story.” Further evidence that many in the media mistreated Lia Thomas was published on this website in February 2023.
Sharron Davies invariably promotes the introduction of so-called “open” categories in sports events, saying that trans women should compete with men and other people who are not born biologically female. This is an argument well-versed by many commentators who are often highly discriminatory against trans people, all of whom fail to mention that testosterone-suppressed trans women athletes have no realistic chance of winning any competition when competing with those whose testosterone levels are in the normal male range.
Another well-versed argument by those prejudiced against trans women is that the trans woman is “taking a woman’s place”, conveniently forgetting that the most successful trans athlete is a trans man, Patricio Manuel, a professional boxer based in the US (pictured). At the time of writing, Patricio is unbeaten. We would argue that trans women and trans men athletes swap places.
Further, ask any person in the street to name a trans athlete who is a national champion in any high-level sport; the chances are you will get a blank expression. Not surprising – there aren’t any worldwide.
In our opinion, Sharron Davies should reconsider her position regarding trans people competing in sports. The campaign she is involved in not only violates the human rights of any potential elite trans athlete, but it also affects trans people at every level.
We are now in a situation where a 67 -year-old trans woman has been banned from playing bowls in a ladies’ team (this case is ongoing), and even kids not being able to play hockey with their friends – kids like 14-year-old Rebekah in this video.
On Twitter, Sharron Davies posts numerous tweets arguing trans women should not be participating in the female sports category – she argues the same in her book ‘Unfair Play: The Battle for Women’s Sport.’
Given the facts of the matter, we believe they should.