Transgender participation in sport

Don’t get me wrong I have lots of sympathy for Caster, none of this is her fault. I too am amazed that more publications don’t mention this small but absolutely pivotal fact.

Given this information the parallel with the Rachel Mckinnon case is more striking than first appears. Essentially both are genetically (chromosomally) male but ‘identify’ or ‘consider themselves’ as women. Nothing they can do will change their genetic make up so both have been told to lower their testosterone levels to compete in the female category. Rachel Mckinnon has agreed to do this Caster Semenya has refused so is banned from racing. Both of course have a right to compete, and could choose to not lower their testosterone levels and compete in the male category. I think the IAAF have been absolutely correct in considering also the rights of cis gender women to compete on a level playing field.

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That’s why I think that the rules should be changed from male/female along gender/sex lines and stick to what chromosomes an athlete has. It isn’t having a penis that gives chromosomal men an advantage - it’s the y chromosome so that’s where the line in the sand (if there has to be one at all) should be.

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The ‘Lets Run’ article I think puts the case it very well.

The other article seems to focus on the fact that as she identifies as a female and has done since birth and as such this would infringe on her human rights. What about if she had only started identifying as female at age 5, or 10 or 25? But as I said what about the rights of cis women to race on a level playing field. It is discrimination but you need to discriminate on some ground, you need to draw a line in the sand somewhere otherwise we just end up with one open category.

I do have some sympathy with her based on the fact that there are some other conditions which cause high levels of testosterone and these are not included in the ruling.

To be honest the author of the second article totally lost me when they advocated “athletes should be able take performance-enhancing substances within the normal physiological range. This would mean cisgender female athletes could take testosterone up to 5 nMol/L.”

It’s a very difficult situation but at the moment this seems like the least worst solution.

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Just read the “let’s run” article and agree with most of it. However, I don’t think that a testosterone “allowance” is a good idea for a couple of reasons.

  1. I don’t think it’s fair (or ethical) to force a person like Caster to take drugs that may effect her physical and mental health in order to lower testosterone. Too many parallels with the abhorrent chemical castration of Alan Turing and others for my liking.
  2. I’m not sure that the science is there to support the belief that lowering testosterone artificially in later life actually reverses the positive effects of being born with a y chromosome. Women born with a y have had elevated testosterone since they hit puberty and the physical enhancements have been made.
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I trust that the experts at the UCI and IOC will review quality studies and make the right decisions based on science.

Your trust is misplaced, IMHO. They will make the right decision based on their wallets.

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Sharing this here because there are clearly some interested parties in this thread, and I’d encourage you to share it with relevant women, per the careful consideration I provide in the post.

No further comment.

Until recently, transgender performances in major competitions were sporadic and perceived as exotic, with no influence on the medal allocation. But as soon as they broke through to the top positions in women’s sport, the topic turned scandalous. And it was no longer just about awards. The topic of LGBT tolerance is becoming increasingly debated in today’s society. Recently, we have been hearing more and more about transgender athletes who have been taking podiums and making the front pages of the newspapers.

I think it is, like many things, a very complex subject with many unanswered questions and cannot simply boiled down to one simple factor (T-level) and needs more physiological and bio-mechanical study to determine where the line is. I am certainly no expert and I have my opinions like a competitor should be fully transitioned for a period of time and not just hormone therapy but do things like hip width, length of bones, joint angles which don’t change give an advantage, don’t know. Maybe in some sports but not others???

Regardless of mine or one’s own opinion on the subject, the one trans athlete I know at arm’s length through others made the statement (paraphrased).

Nobody cared that I was trans in the daily training and the all the races where I struggled to just to finish or came mid pack but the first time the timing, training and team came together for a podium, all of a sudden there was an outcry only because I was trans and it was unfair.


My thoughts are as such.

If we practice what we preach in that all genders are the same physically, then we only have one category. May the best person win.

If this seems unfair to women, who are not able to compete with biological men, then it also stands to reason that biological men that are transitioning to women also have an advantage when competing against biological women.

I think when you get past the political side of things, most logical people would agree that women and men are differently made and have different strengths and weaknesses. Of course there are outliers in everything, but for the most part, on average, men are physically more capable than women at the types of sports we compete in. There are also outliers within the sex, as a man that is barely 5 feet tall would have problems competing for the 1 hour distance record.

Then the question arises: ok, so how can they also compete? I think the only fair way is to have a separate category.


[quote=“ZeroGravity, post:185, topic:22932, full:true”]
I think it is, like many things, a very complex subject with many unanswered questions and cannot simply boiled down to one simple factor (T-level) and needs more physiological and bio-mechanical study to determine where the line is. I am certainly no expert and I have my opinions like a competitor should be fully transitioned for a period of time and not just hormone therapy but do things like hip width, length of bones, joint angles which don’t change give an advantage, don’t know. Maybe in some sports but not others??? [/quote]

Outliers are really a bugaboo here. How many people have the physiology to be outstanding at (fill in the blank sport) that don’t? Does every mtf have an advantage in aerobic sports because the average male has a larger thorax which in turn supports larger heart and lung capacity? Are the issues strictly mtf transgendered related? I haven’t seen any sports were an ftm has been singled out, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, rather that I haven’t looked.

I think in the end no one with a personal interest in this is going to be happy with any decisions made related to this subject.

This is the question that is strongly debated and has not been fully answered. Is it enough to be transitioning or or even fully transitioned to “level” out. Is it solely testosterone or other hormones that dictates physiology and athletic performance? Pseudo-experts always refer to the presence of T during puberty but has that been proven without question? Is everything to do with cisgender transformable from one to another, does it have to be? Also need to put aside the bullshit about someone transitioning simply to excel. It may happen in incredibly rare circumstance, but this would also be the same mentality of someone who take PEDs, or otherwise cheat to get ahead.

As I said before, I think it is too complex to distill it down to T-Levels only but is there a set of achievable criteria that does level things out for trans athletes? Is it sport-specific or not?


I don’t really think it is too complex. We make it that way due to emotional or political reasons, but the answer isn’t really that complex.

first question: Are males stronger/faster than women (yes, I know there are outliers, but in this line of questioning it does not matter because of the next question)?

If so, is it only fair to have separate categories for these genders?

If so, why are we allowing biological males to compete with these women?

Additionally, kind of like the threads on amateur doping and testosterone, opening up doors to reach the optimal levels of hormones isnt good for anyone. What if a transgender woman competed against my daughter and had higher T- levels than she does. Should she then be able to take TRT to also be within the upper range of allowable T levels?

There has to be a line drawn somewhere.

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I disagree and think you have oversimplified it.

First this is a disservice to women athletes. Women outperforming men is more than just outliers. Second you are making the assertion that a trans woman (we are mostly talking mtf trans here) retains most or all the ‘advantage’ of male vs female performance. I say prove it, not just ‘men are generally better’ or ‘it’s obvious.’

This is historical as mainstream transgenderism is a relatively new issue to address. We as society need to do our due diligence to ensure level playing fields. Science not dogma.

Again, let science prove one way or the other that a trans person is or is not biologically level to a cisgender person. If it it unequivocally proven empirically that a trans person retains an advantage over a cisgender athlete then steps need to be taken to ensure level playing fields.

I agree, I am just saying we don’t know where that line is yet.


No one is saying this…

100%…it is an extremely complex issue and saying these athletes have a T-advantage is simply ignoring the rules that are in place.

The issue is you can’t have both.

For one thing, “disservice” is a subjective and emotional word. I am not subjecting anyone to disservice. I am speaking straight fact. Look at any cycling (although i think a woman held or holds the RAAM record), running, lifting, whatever. Put a male team against a female team in any sport. At the top levels, men will win every time. If this did not ring true, this entire discussion would not exist because there would be no differences.

I already said, that if women are equal to men, then just have one category for competition. Then it would not matter who is transgender and who isnt. Except it still would, because some people would be allowed to take hormone therapy while others arent.

These women that are competing at the top ARE outliers, as are the men competing at the top. Nino Schurter is an outlier. So is Kate Courtney. And Nino will blow the doors off of Kate Courtney every single time.

Lets have women compete against men in boxing or MMA. Do you really think this is fair? If you do, I doubt your knowledge of the sport or of the reality of strength differences.

So i believe it is well established that biological males are on average more physically capable for the sports we are talking about.

How does this translate to someone who is transitioning? I dont know. What I do know if we start trying to quantify every difference between men and women, and then allow people to make up the differences to an approved level, we have opened the door to all sorts of doping across the board.

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Plenty of people say it.

In fact, the person you agree with said it, in as many words.

You seem to have a personal issue with me…dunno why, but feel free to put me on Ignore.

Trust me, I won’t be offended.

No, I get excited when you chose to reply to me specifically. I wouldn’t miss it!

I don’t really know any of the in’s and out’s and think it’s a hideously complex issue.

One question though, my assumption (without research to back it up) is that males typically have higher bone and muscle density, due to many factors I’m sure, does this provide a lasting performance affect beyond transition?

I suspect it does. I don’t really know what the answer is in terms of competitive fairness and balancing that with ethical equality.


I had more written, but to keep it short and sweet: yes. Check out MorePlatesMoreDates on youtube for some videos about the transathlete debate and structural changes that occur during puberty that are not completely undone by suppressing T levels as an adult (bone length, bone density, lung capacity, blood volume, lean muscle mass, muscle myonuclei development, etc.)

I support open competition from people of all walks (or non-walks) of life. I just think allowing MF trans athletes to compete against cis-F athletes is sacrificing all the gains female athletes have made over the last 40+ years and would prefer a way of including trans athletes that is not to the detriment of cis-F athletes.

Notably there is not similar debate about FM trans athletes competing against cis-men. My belief is that is because many inherently understand the structural changes that arise during puberty and that FM trans athletes, even on HRT/TRT, are not going to magically grow taller, grow bigger lungs, etc. and are at a structural disadvantage against the average cis-M.