“Trans Women are a serious threat and are destroying Women’s Sport”
This is an intentionally emotive statement, and let’s be honest, it’s an easy one to sell. Of course we know that Men have an advantage in most sports, it is obvious, and we all can see it – the official record books are there for all to check, and on average, there is a 10-12% advantage when you compare records in elite sport for Men & Women.
But if we are focusing on facts, as clearly we should, then the only true comparison in this matter has got to be to compare Transgender Women to Cisgender Women. Cisgender Male athletes have not undergone any hormone therapy nor taken testosterone suppressants, so any comparison to Cisgender Men is irrelevant to this issue and in truth, would never be quoted by anyone with any genuine integrity or intentions to discuss this matter in good faith.
But this article is not seeking to discuss what constitutes fair and safe inclusion of Trans Women, as there is in reality, a far bigger threat that urgently needs highlighting and halting; This is a threat that, unless reversed, will have a far greater impact on all Women’s Sport – it could even destroy it.
Ever since competitive sport has existed, going back to the first Mesoamerican ballgame that originated over three thousand years ago, sporting events have been competed with one basic principle –pitting the best athletes of the time against each other to see who comes out on top, but with the one important principle that cheating is never acceptable. And the reason I state this is because there is a really important principle being challenged at the moment as to what natural sporting advantages are now considered unacceptable and even akin to cheating.
The fact is that the vast majority of those who reach the pinnacle of their sport have done so because they were fortunate enough to be born with a natural aptitude for sport and also with an anatomy that enabled them to harness that sporting ability. Unquestionably, hard work and dedication is a prerequisite, as anyone born with natural ability that doesn’t put in that hard graft is highly unlikely to succeed at the very highest level, but it is fair to say that someone born with the natural abilities and physical attributes clearly does have an advantage over those born without those natural born abilities. But is it right to consider any natural advantage as being unfair?
It is impossible to discount the natural born physical attribute of Michael Phelps, the physical strength of Serena Williams or even the frame of Sharron Davies. All proved an advantage that they had over fellow competitors born without the same natural attributes, but all are examples of athletes who achieved the most from what God had given them.
Is it unfair to be born 6’3” and have a sporting advantage over someone born 5’3”? And if we do start saying it is unfair (as we never have done), then how far do we take this, and if we do, surely this is seeking to remove the very essence of sport – we are not all born the same and we do all have different talents in different areas. That is after all why we have competitive sport to find who is the fastest, the strongest, etc.
And most importantly, those exploiting their natural advantage didn’t cheat – no one controls the way they are born.
If you do not do anything against the rules designed specifically to artificially enhance your sporting ability, then surely there is nothing wrong or immoral in reaching the full extent of whatever God-given abilities you have been given. Surely this is a basic principle of sport that we must not allow to be destroyed.
However, we are now reaching a time where decisions are being made on targeted natural advantages that are being challenged and deemed unfair ….. and let’s be 100% clear on this, it is only happening in Women’s sport.
I don’t think so.
The catalyst to this generated from the targeted focus over recent years on Trans Women and also on those that are Intersex, and primarily on one athlete, Caster Semenya.
Prior to this point, the only true focus on testing in sports was to ensure fair play with the detection of any illegal sports-enhancing substances. But following the issues being raised over Trans and Interex inclusion, a problem is emerging as we are starting to focus on what impact other natural born differences have on sporting abilities. One example that we could look at would be Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).
PCOS is probably the most frequent endocrine disorder among women of fertile age, reportedly affecting around 10% of the female population. This syndrome is characterised by elevated ovarian production of androgens and in PCOS, the levels of pituitary hormone called luteinizing hormone, and the levels of insulin in the blood are usually too high. The result is to cause the ovaries to make an excessive amount of testosterone, and if the androgen receptors of an individual with XY DSD are functional, the muscle mass will reportedly develop like that of a man.
Not surprisingly, the increased Testosterone levels and associated advantages that enhance sporting ability have recenly come into greater question. This is precisely why Trans Women who do not reduce their T Levels are deemed as having an unfair advantage, as it is still held by most sporting bodies that the levels of testosterone in excess of the normal female range are related to muscle mass and enhanced athletic performance in female athletes.
For this reason, most elite sporting bodies seeking fair inclusion adopt a qualification requiring medical proof of 2 years of testosterone levels being reduced to within an accepted natal female range – and Trans athletes taking suppressants will reduce their levels to within this considered ‘fair’ range from the first month they commence their treatment.
Based on this qualification requirement, what has been the impact on those who meet the Trans Women qualification requirements? We must again only deal with facts, so only the official record books can answer this question; and as hard as you may look, there is not one elite Women’s Sporting Record held by any Trans Women, and not one medal of any colour has been won by any Trans Women at any Elite Sporting Event. The reality is that only one Trans Women has even reached the qualification level to compete in the Olympics, and she finished last. No winners, just the one Olympian Trans Women qualifier in our entire history!
So, in the same way, can we question whether Women with PCOS are demonstrating any sporting advantage and unlike Trans Women, having any genuine impact?
In a recent study of the Swedish Olympic team, it has revealed that 37% of the Women’s team have PCOS, which is over 3.5 times the Women’s average of 10%.
This study, therefore, gives a very clear picture that having PCOS is delivering a genuine sporting advantage. If there was no sporting advantage, then the numbers who had the ability to make it into the Swedish Team would be around the national level of around 10%, but the fact that the number is 37% clearly demonstrates having PCOS is a serious sporting advantage.
So now consider this further. The Swedish study revealed that 37% with PCOS were all Olympians. Since the International Olympic Committee created a rule in 2003 to enable Trans Women to compete in the Games, over the last 10 Olympic Games, 71,000 people have become Olympians.
If the Swedish % of those with PCOS was replicated throughout every Olympic Nation during that period, then out of those 71,000, an enormous 26,270 athletes who qualified to compete in the Olympics would have done so by benefiting from the high testosterone advantages of having PCOS. The true number may be higher or lower, but clearly, the number will be significant – so compare this to the solitary Trans Women Olympic qualifier!
The clear evidence is that if Trans Women do retain any male puberty advantages, the impact is effectively non-existent, but those clearly benefiting from the sporting advantages of PCOS are having a significant impact. So knowing this, should we now call for a ban of all those with PCOS from competing in Women’s Sport? Of course not – we should accept we are all different and maintain the historical position that the natural advantages of every winner are accepted and celebrated. Unless we do this we remove the very essence of sport.
The sporting bodies are in a complete mess over this issue. In April 2018, the IAAF announced new rules that required hyper androgenous athletes to take medication to lower their testosterone levels, effective beginning in November 2018. However, these changes were only applied to athletes competing in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m – which effectively and conveniently ensured that Caster Semenya could not compete. How could there be any justification that an athlete deemed to have an unfair advantage could only apply to these 3 distances?
Not surprisingly, legal challenges to the bans followed.
So the danger to Women’s sport is clear if this continues as more and more Cisgender Women will suffer. As stated, no one will accept any level of cheating in sport but we must be clear about what constitutes cheating. It is not cheating to be born with the body of Michael Phelps – it is not cheating if you happen to be affected by PCOS, and it is not cheating if you are born Transgender and take medically prescribed treatment which is not sport enhancing but is in fact sporting ability reducing.
And before anyone asks, ‘wouldn’t a Cisgender Man just pretend to be Trans to win at sport?’, please reflect on this.
To do so you would have to live your life as a Women for two whole years (or whatever was each sports-approved period) before you even qualify – and given we are talking about elite athletes, this would also be in the full glare and watch of the media. You will need to legally change your name, and live your life as a Woman 24/7, but most importantly, you will have to undergo the treatment. Drug treatment that will reduce your testosterone levels (and your sporting ability) and it will see you grow breasts and become infertile plus, because you are not genuinely Trans and taking this treatment to remove dysphoria, they would be inflicting dysphoria on themselves!
And all this to reduce your strength and sporting ability that somehow is going to enable you to win Gold Medals! It simply isn’t going to happen.
Please do not think that this article is a call to take action against those with PCOS – it most certainly is not. This is highlighted purely to expose the hypocrisy of those attacking the inclusion of Trans Women as I do not believe that any natural advantages should result in disqualification, or where will this end?
If Michael Phelps had been born female (and I will add, especially if she was a person of colour) and competing today, would her natural advantages be as readily accepted?
And if not, how far will this go. If we truly demand a level playing field and full fairness by removing natural ‘unfair’ advantages; are we going to make the next Usain Bolt race with a rucksack full of rocks on his back! I know, it’s all just nonsense.
The reason Trans Women are not dominating Women’s Sport is because unlike any other condition that gives an advantage, Trans Women are the ONLY athletes who undergo treatment to remove that natural advantage …… and yet having removed those advantages they are still not accepted. And all the time those Gender Critical claim this is only about fairness! Trans Women are clearly having no genuine impact that reveals any kind of unfair advantage, which is exactly what the IOC has stated.
So, when we return to my original question: “Trans Women are a serious threat and are destroying Women’s Sport” – or is there a bigger danger? – the answer is that there is a far bigger danger to Women’s Sport.
Competing fairly means competing without cheating, and we need to ensure this nonsense of discriminating against ‘unfair’ natural ability is halted before it does serious damage to Women’s Sport. We need to let sport return to the wonderful celebration of whoever proves to be the best at the time whatever their natural advantages might be.
The very essence of sport is to find the best, and it is natural advantages that make them the best! If allowed to continue, this attack on Trans Women and the targeting of any other natural advantage, will destroy sport as we know it. And as usual, it’s Women who will suffer.
Words Paul 08/10/2022