Dylan Johnson's "Do Transgender Athletes Have an Unfair Advantage? The Science" video

I’m curious to what everyone’s thoughts are on this video?

Preemptive reminder of the forum guidelines:

Keep this on topic, in bounds and respectful, or it will be closed.


I haven’t watched yet but am curious to. As a parent of a bit of a gender fluid child though I’m a bit invested in the mental health aspect of transgender sports participation. I think when it doesn’t hit close to home it becomes easy to just suggest that transgender athletes participate either in their own divisions or with their birth assigned status. So I hope folks consider how a parent like myself would feel about the inclusion or exclusion of their child from participating with who they are comfortable with


If all you have to add to the thread is your take on an impending implosion, please refrain from posting. Post on the topic or not at all, please.


If it’s scientifically proven that they have an (unreasonably high) advantage, despite it not being their fault, then they shouldn’t be allowed to compete. This is the only way competition can remain fair for everyone (read: 99% of the field).
Easy as that.


I suspect there is a player on my 9yo daughter soccer team that might be a transgender. I have no idea, but after watching girls play soccer for 4 years and watching boys of the same age play during tournament or practices, the player runs and play closer to what I usually see in boys (like the love to slide at all times, the running stride, etc). He/She doesn’t play any better than most girls, but it will be interesting as they keep developing.

We still can’t decide as a human species " scientifically " if an Amputee has an advantage or a disadvantage while competing. We have allowed amputees to compete in Olympic events many times in the past but the debate still persists whether there is an advantage or not.

( shuffling research papers, will get back to you… )


It’s not as simple as that, not when there are bigger issues of mental health at play for transgender individuals. There is nothing convenient for transgender folks and they certainly aren’t transitioning because they want to win more easily. There’s a lot of baggage and a lot of people don’t recognize the courage it takes.


Seeing some of the margins by which trans men (competing against women) are beating the competition, I would say yes they have an advantage, maybe not every single one of them, but a lot of these males seem to maintain their genetic physical advantages despite their 1 year or whatnot of hormone therapy and showing certain T levels.

Socially, everyone should be able to be who they want and I support everyone in their happiness. However athletics wise, it seems like the field isn’t quite as even as some suggest, and IMO it’s not doing many favors to the world of women’s athletics, who already don’t get the same viewership and treatment as some of their male counterparts.


The following article talks about two cis female athletes that weren’t allowed to compete in the 400m because of naturally high testosterone levels. Which makes this topic extremely confusing for me.


I thought that women’s divisions were created to ensure a level playing field. If that’s no longer considered desirable we don’t need a seperate women’s division and all persons, regardless their gender, should compete against each other.

1 Like

I’d say at the amateur/non-elite level (or more specifically when money/career isn’t at stake) skewing towards inclusion is the right choice. In the events I compete in, I’d like to see a transgender/non-binary category, as well as the option for trans women and trans men to compete in the gendered categories if they prefer. Pretty sure that’s how Rooted Vermont did it, and Vermont is pretty good when it comes to gender equality issues.

At the professional/elite level of course it needs to be fair. But as Dylan’s video suggests, more research needs to be done to determine whether inclusion can be fair (given that studies on high level trans women are essentially nonexistent), and this will be sports specific, so that decision should probably be made separately by each sport’s governing body.


I like Dylan’s conclusion question:

Which you value more, fairness or inclusiveness.

And to me, thats where both sides of the argument collide.
I personally see both sides and I have no clue which one should be the one winning. I like people to be whatever they want to be, but I also know the current state of things might be detrimental to woman sports (special high school sports)


I don’t think anyone is saying that. The question is can a level playing field be achieved while including trans athletes alongside others in their gender, and that remains to be seen (probably yes in some sports, no in others)

The following article talks about two cis female athletes that weren’t allowed to compete in the 400m because of naturally high testosterone levels. Which makes this topic extremely confusing for me

It is confusing because it’s a complex topic. It’s possible that the women aren’t cis women, strictly speaking. The article mentioned differences in sex development. So, it’s possible that they are intersex women, i.e. not XX (and not XY, either), or XX but with some other genetic variance that complicates things. Basically, sex - which is distinct from gender - is usually XX or XY but there are variances. The article does not mention the cause, which is probably for the best. I merely mention being intersex as a possible explanation.

I’ll add Johnson’s video to my watch list. Don’t have time to get into it yet. One thing I will mention is this. I think I remember some people referencing a study on US Navy (or other military) personnel who transitioned, and showed via before-after tests that they retain some athletic advantage a year or more after transition. I forget which specific parameters but it doesn’t matter. Consider that those women transitioned as adults, after being exposed to testosterone during adolescence.

However, some people are aware that they need to transition when they are kids. I don’t know the proportion; it could be most, it could be a substantial minority, I don’t know. I would assume that changing social mores could lead to more trans people deciding to transition earlier. In the case of trans women in athletics, I would propose that the earlier they transition, the less the advantage they should retain in adulthood - all us guys remember how rapidly our bodies changed during puberty, right? We caught up to the girls in height, we got lots more muscles, right? From the person’s perspective - the person right now, not the athlete - if they want to be a femme woman after transition, it seems likely that having undergone puberty as a male makes this harder. Your voice is deeper, your bone structure is different, you probably look more butch, etc. So, we should want the social environment to be such that whoever wants to transition gets to do it when they decide to. We should want that for its own sake, but I think I make a good case that it could affect the athletic fairness question. (I mean, like many things, it is a potentially empirical question, I could be proven wrong, I’m not a doctor, no bio background either.) Also, I’ve got no personal experience, but I understand that for those who aren’t certain, docs can prescribe puberty blockers - those delay puberty. This buys the person time to figure out what they want.

This is why I vehemently oppose legislative efforts to prohibit children from receiving transition therapy. As in, I am willing to accept that trans women may retain a durable advantage in athletics, and there are potential fairness concerns having them compete with cis women, and I do not give a damn - you try to ban gender affirming care and you are harming children. This is not directly linked to the proposition that sports federations should think about creating a third sex/gender category for competition. But there are many people who are using athletic fairness as a smoke screen. That needs to be said. They don’t care about fairness.


I find this odd and unfair to exclude women who are naturally born with higher T levels. Did the parameters for T levels even exist/get measured before trans men competed in that category? I don’t see male athletes being excluded for having a born physical advantage to other males they compete against.

Seems like most of these things just harm women and women’s athletics, IMO. Seems like using T levels alone to determine who competed with men and who competes with women is terrible


A couple of things (not necessarily a fully formed opinion, just some initial thoughts);

  • I find it sort of odd, but not entirely surprising, that there seem to be a lot of opinions on how this affects women’s fields with not a whole lot being from actual women. I obviously can’t speak for anyone, but for my part I’ve always preferred competing in mixed leagues wherever possible (not just in cycling, but also in rugby and other sports where strength and size differenecs are much greater.) I would very much support, and possibly participate in, the creation of an ‘open’ field as a non-trans athlete.

  • The differential in men’s and women’s performance, all else being equal, is by no means contstant, particularly as women’s sport is quickly evolving- so while I don’t think it’s realistic to say that we’re “the same”, i’m also not sure if it’s an accurate prediction to assume the state of things will remain fixed in terms of individual performances or overall fields.

  • Testosterone as a PED Is hugely common in women’s sport, so I do wonder if having T status be more ‘open’ and regulated might actually have a positive impact here.

  • The number of people who identify is transgender is growing rapidly and is by no means a new phenomenon, so I feel it’s in all our best interests to figure out a system, however imperfect, that isn’t simply ignoring the issue or excluding athletes.


Agreed - the intersex part of this discussion in particular quite complex and nuanced.

I think this get’s lost in much of this discussion. My take is that competitive athletics have been and should remain divided based on sex due to the significant physical advantages males have over females. (This however is not as simple as it sounds due to the point above.) The higher the level of competition, the more important this becomes. Many youth sports should likely be more gender based, as (for example) recreational soccer is more about playing the game than being the best soccer team. Comp. soccer, where people are competing for scholarships, etc would be where being divided on sex is more appropriate. College intra-mural leagues - gender based, NCAA competitions - sex based. I think there can be a place for gender divided sports, but not at the highest level.
Since there is such an obvious and broad male advantage over females in most sports, I think the burden of proof is to show how transgender women can be included female sporting events in a way that keeps the competition fair. So far that has not been done.


This seems like a reasonable starting point and good post. While it may irritate some people in amateur sport if a trans woman beats them, it is “only” amateur sport - which can provide both psychological and physiological health benefits for males, females, and trans athletes. When we get into elite competition where money (and often lots of money) and fame are on the line, then it seems reasonable that additional steps need to be taken to ensure a level playing field. In any situation, it doesn’t seem like we’re even close to “there yet” where anyone can make comments with any certainty one way or the other.

My personal guess is that this will continue to be talked about in the background from a media standpoint until an openly trans woman wins a major worldwide event - and we’re probably not talking a cycling event, more likely athletics or swimming. When that happens, it’ll actually force the research and discussion necessary to ensure fairness at an elite level.

Edit to add: it was interesting in Dylan’s video that none of the female weightlifters chose to comment.

1 Like

I think some of the issue is how much we tie things to sports (in the US in particular) regarding athletic scholarships. This creates a perverse incentive for athletics, so of course parents of girls are going to be protective of their daughters if they think their “spot” is going to be “taken” by a transgender girl. Obviously we’re all sporting people here, but sports kind of suck

1 Like