Should Transgender Women Be Allowed to Compete Against Biological Women?
Originally Published on The Author’s Substack
It’s no secret that trans women have increasingly been permitted to participate alongside biological women in sports. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, track and field athlete Andraya Yearwood, MMA fighters Fallon Fox and Alana McLaughlin are just a few examples. Perhaps the most popular instance lately, continuously at the forefront of the news, is the case of swimmer Lia Thomas.
After ranking in the 400s in the men’s league, Thomas began identifying as a woman in 2019. In 2021, Thomas began competing in the women’s swim league, immediately rising to the top.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why feminists have the responsibility to speak up regarding this, let’s revisit the basics.
When they experience puberty, men and women develop permanent physiological and anatomical differences, in addition to the already present difference of sex. These differences include the development of vital organs and muscles as well as bone structure and fat distribution.
For example, after puberty, men generally have larger, more robust bones and joint surfaces. They also have larger hearts, lungs, and muscle mass (particularly in the upper body). Not to mention the difference in pelvic width, wingspan and grip strength compared to women. A study published by The National Library of Medicine concluded:
“The significantly higher value for mixed venous oxygen saturation, which contributes to the lower arteriovenous oxygen difference of women, could result from their smaller muscle mass, lower capillary density, and lower oxidative potential” [emphasis added].
Additionally, a study titled Sex Differences in Endurance Running concludes:
“Females […] demonstrate a more even pacing strategy and less fatigue following endurance running exercise […] but other factors (e.g. lower O2 carrying capacity, greater body fat percentage) counterbalance these potential advantages, making females outperforming males a rare exception” [emphasis added].
Besides biology, there are the following questions to consider:
If there are no physical differences between men and women
- Why can’t female athletes take testosterone to level the playing field?
- Why are trans men not rising to the top of men’s sports after female puberty?
- Why even separate men’s and women’s sports at all?
Men and women are different, and that’s something to be celebrated. Just because women are, on average, physically weaker than men doesn’t mean they are less worthy of respect. Likewise, just because men are physically stronger, doesn’t mean they are more important than women. Despite our biological and physiological differences, we are equal.
The Logic Doesn’t Add Up
For logic’s sake, consider the following situation:
A man who sees himself as a man begins taking female hormones. He then decides he wants to compete against women in their physical competitions, share their private spaces, etc. Of course, that would be unacceptable. After all, he is a man.
Now consider the same situation, only now the man’s perception of himself has changed. Now, he sees himself as a woman. The man can see himself any way he wishes, but the physical reality is that he remains male, regardless of how he chooses to identify. Self-perception does not trump physical reality anywhere, but especially not in sports, where physical ability is the whole point.
Lia Thomas is a male athlete whose self-perception (i.e. gender identity) transitioned from a man to a woman. Regardless of this, Thomas remains physically male with male characteristics. The key point here is that gender identity does not equal sex, no matter what. Self-perception does not equal physical reality. This is an important distinction because sports are physical competitions. Who knew basic biology could be so controversial?
Lia Thomas Has Been on Hormones Since 2019 – So What’s the Big Deal?
Hormone therapy or not, Thomas experienced male puberty in addition to years of training with testosterone and therefore has all the biological advantages of male characteristics.
Thomas’ performance in the men’s league was ranked in the 400s. After Thomas began identifying as a woman and competing in the women’s league, Thomas jumped to #1 in the women’s category. Let’s not kid ourselves by pretending this does not indicate biological advantage.
A study titled Cardiovascular Implications of Gender-Affirming Hormone Treatment in the Transgender Population explains how feminizing hormone therapy may reduce male characteristics. That’s right, it may reduce but does not eliminate male characteristics.
Now, before I ask feminists the burning question, I’d like to make something clear. I’m not anti-trans. Transgender men and women deserve to be treated with love, respect, and dignity just like anyone else. But that doesn’t mean they get to bypass the rules at the expense of others. I’m pro-fairness, and there can be no fairness in sports without acknowledging biological differences between the sexes. There can be no fairness without acknowledging unfair physical advantages in a physical competition, and there can be no fairness when female athletes are being silenced in their own sport on account of an individual’s self-perception.
“They Aren’t Hurting Anyone”
Allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports is hurting female athletes. Not only are more female athletes speaking out about how this is hurting them, they are also telling us why it hurts them and why it’s unacceptable. The problem is that no one wants to listen.
While a few female athletes, such as Riley Gaines and Madison Kenyon, have been brave enough to show their faces and use their names, many female athletes have been threatened into silence or anonymity simply for sticking up for themselves.
Gaines explains how she and Thomas raced in the 200 freestyle, where they tied down to the hundredth of a second. Gaines describes how she was told by the NCAA that, despite having tied with Thomas, Thomas would take the trophy and she would go empty-handed. When Gaines questioned this, she was told that Thomas would hold the trophy “for photo purposes.”
Feminists Say “Give Women a Voice”
Are Thomas’s feelings more important than fairness to these women? More important than these women’s scholarships, opportunities, and ease in the locker room? Where are the feminists that have historically stood by women to make sure that their voices were heard and amplified?
Since biological males have begun competing in women’s sports, feminists have been silent. If we are being “inclusive,” why are the voices of these women being excluded? If feelings do trump physical fairness, why are Gaines’ feelings being brushed off in favor of Thomas’? Because we love a good photo op?
The solution to this problem is simple. A new category must be created for transgender athletes. Not only will this restore fairness in sports, it will also restore the standard of no drugs in men’s and women’s sports. Just as steroids, masking agents, recreational drugs, and peptide hormones are banned from men’s and women’s sports, so should sex hormones (hormone therapy) be. A transgender sports category is a practical, attainable solution that will solve the unfair biological advantage of male athletes dominating female categories.
Feminists: Where Are You Now?
Do the words of Riley Gaines mean nothing? Does the experience of these women both in competitions and in the locker room mean nothing? What happened to “believe all women”?
So where are you, feminists? Where are you now that men are the new women of the year, now that men are stealing your Championships, dominating your sports, and deeming that the womanhood that makes childbirth possible must be erased and replaced with “personhood” for the sake of “inclusion”?
Every human being is entitled to love and respect, but no one is entitled to trample on the rights and consent of others for the sake of their precious feelings or self-perception. It is an insult to the hardworking, elite female athletes across the world, and an injustice to little girls everywhere, who will never be allowed to speak up for themselves or experience fair competition with their fellow female athletes, should this discrimination and iniquity continue unchecked.
One of our country’s most important freedoms is that of free speech.
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