Transgender participation in sport

With regards to if I think Rachel has done anything wrong then my answer is a definitive “no” current rules say that she can compete so that’s that.

I do think that the current rules need looking at though because it is my belief that being born with a y chromosome does give an athlete an advantage over those not born with one.

Taking ethics and politics out of it then I think if there is to be a segregation in sport at all it should be y-chromosome positive or negative. Gender identity shouldnt have anything to do with it - it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that people born with a y chromosome have had extra testosterone pumped into their bodies since they were twelve. It’s true that Rachel and others never asked for this to happen to them, quite the opposite and it’s caused them significant distress, but it still happened and it puts other women at a disadvantage in my opinion.

The fairest thing to do might be to scrap the idea of segregation in sport and have men and women competing against each other - but I don’t think that this would be good for sport.


I disagree. It isn’t "my sense of ‘normal’” it is most people’s.

Men don’t race women or compete against women in almost all sports for obvious reasons. That same reasoning should simply extend to trans etc. Have a separate category and there will be less issues to contend with.


It is pandering if they are in the same race or competition categories as biological men or women.

Have a separate category.

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That is interesting. Do you have an opinion on this?

I’d be open to having born gender and current gender on a single record. My only issue is with changing a birth certificate to say female, because it is clear that the person was born a male. If that wasn’t the case, then that person wouldn’t be transgender. Which brings up another question…if gender is so fluid these days and is often called a social construct, why do people need operations to change this? Shouldn’t these people be transsex, not transgender?

I work in the medical software industry. Pretty much forever the gender record is specifically called “administrative gender” just to skirt this whole debacle of chromosomal vs physical genitalia presentation vs mental identification. I don’t see much push to expand beyond that in the standards. Long term this will be important as a great many aspects of your treatment will depend on your genetic presentation which right now is just assumed to be the same as your administrative gender. That may not be the best input for assessing risk for diseases, etc.

Just to play devils advocate here. Genetically Caster Semenya has XY (male chromosomes). So she is intersex, she exhibits some female and some male traits. So we’re not talking about a genetically XX female with abnormally high testosterone being told to lower it. We’re talking about someone who exhibits both male and female traits but based purely on chromosomes she is male.

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Thanks for pointing this out. It’s amazing that this information is omitted from so many publications. I had to go looking for it after you mentioned it! This certainly makes me reconsider my position

A couple of opposing view points that I found interesting

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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