Trans Women Competing in the Olympics

Recently I came across this little nugget of joy while browsing through online news.

The article is claiming that having trans women compete in the Olympics would be unfair to cis-women for the reason that trans women, having been men most of their lives, would have advantages over women.

However, a considerable number doctors and researchers from different committees  have ruled that a transgender female athlete on HRT does not have any real advantages over a normal female athlete.

The article itself does not offer up any documented counter evidence. It simply says:

>> It is simply inconceivable that athletes who have spent most of their lives as men wouldn’t have greater muscle mass, skeletal growth, and lung capacity than someone born female

^^^ It might (not) interest our readers to know that I just happened to specialized in biomechanics for 10 years. A woman’s lung capacity increases with training, the same way a man’s does. A woman’s heart also undergoes the same kind of hypertrophy and other adaptations, as does the rest of her circulatory system.  Now I’ve never personally studied the differences between trans and non-trans athletes, so while this seems intuitive, I don’t need to rely on my own expertise; the doctors and researchers who are on these different committees should be intimately aware of all these factors, and have reached their conclusions based on well established fitness science.

Also from the article:

>> Sadly, feminism is not in a position to fight the IOC, because the movement has bought into the doctrine of intersectionality, which dictates that transgender persons constitute a victimized group whose wishes must be granted at all costs.

^^^ Opinions of feminism aside – we know transgender athletes are on the same level as highly trained cis-females, because as stated, we have had independent researchers look into this, and it was a decision reached through careful study of the issue.

………… or at least, that’s what I thought.

The counter argument, summed up, appears to be that a trans-woman, after only a year on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), would still have significant advantages over a cis-woman (cis stands for “comfortable in skin”, which is another way of saying someone who isn’t transgender).  You can see a full debate on this subject here: – where I started out with many of the same points I just listed here.

This debate ended with the following:

Trans debate^^^ To which I thought, “Not a problem!” – and went googling away.

Again, for those of you trying to follow what this is about:

The question is whether or not allowing a trans woman on only 1 year of HRT is fair to non-trans women, due to advantages that the trans-woman will have from being male most of their life.

The pro-trans side says it’s fair, because there are no advantages.

The anti-trans side says it isn’t fair, as they would have advantages.

My position is that it’s fair because numerous independent researchers associated with different official committees have made that ruling and would obviously have the evidence to make such a ruling.

So lets get looking!

According to The Guardian: “International Olympic Committee medical officials said on Sunday they changed the policy to adapt to current scientific, social and legal attitudes on transgender issues.

According to CNN: “Medical chiefs at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have recommended the change which could mean transgender athletes would be more readily able to take part in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as well as other international events.

^^^ Definitely a consensus among the medical community!  But to avoid an Argument from Authority fallacy, we need the actual research that results in such a consensus.  I’m positive we’ll find a controlled study somewhere comparing cis-women to trans-women.

According to Outsports: “Outsports has obtained a copy of the transgender guidelines the International Olympic Committee is expected to adopt before the Summer Olympics later this year. The guidelines stem from an unpublicized “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism” the IOC held last November.

^^^ Aha!  A lead!  Now we’re cooking!  For sure I’m going to get a PDF with a longitudinal study with empirical evidence that will shut this whole thing down.

You can see the Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment study here:

From the study: (Drum roll, please!)

>> Since the 2003 Stockholm Consensus on Sex Reassignment in Sports, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of autonomy of gender identity in society, as reflected in the laws of many jurisdictions worldwide.

………………………….. uh……. wait, what?

…………. weren’t we going to talk about trans women competing against cis-women?  Because… that’s what all those news sources are using this citation for.  I mean read that last one from Outsports again – the new guidelines stem from this very paper.

Oh god… no…. please tell me we’re not relying on liberal feel-good nonsense and pretending it’s scientific data.

Cat Oh brother here we go againMore from that same paper:

>> B. There are also, however, jurisdictions where autonomy of gender identity is not recognised in law at all.

>> C. It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition.

^^^ Okay so this has more to do with letting trans women compete than settling the question of whether or not it’s actually fair for cis-women.

In fact, more from that Outsports source I quoted a moment ago:

>> Joanna Harper, chief medical physicist, radiation oncology, Providence Portland Medical Center, was one of the people at that meeting. She also happens to be trans, and she said her voice in the room was important in determining these guidelines.”

^^^ Okay yea… this is definitely an issue that’s aimed at only letting trans-women compete without settling the issue of whether or not that’s actually fair.  In fact, Harper goes on to state: “This matches up with the NCAA rules and is as good as anything.

As good as anything???  The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is not accredited by any recognizing body, and has no legal authority over any sporting agency or activity.  They’re free to simply make up whatever rules they want on any issue they please, and are not obligated to follow any medically established protocols or procedures.  Also, you can see those very rules being referenced here:

From page 9 on PDF reader:

>>Concern about creating an “unfair competitive advantage” on sex-separated teams is one of the most often cited reasons for resistance to the participation of transgender student-athletes. This concern is cited most often in discussions about transgender women competing on a women’s team.

>> These concerns are based on three assumptions: one, that transgender women are not “real” women and therefore not deserving of an equal competitive opportunity; two, that being born with a male body automatically gives a transgender woman an unfair advantage when competing against non-transgender women; and three, that men might be tempted to pretend to be transgender in order to compete in competition with women.

^^^ First assumption is nonsense – whether or not trans women are “real women” is completely besides the point.  That’s a totally separate issue, and has nothing to do with whether or not there’s an unfair competitive advantage.

Third assumption is even more nonsense.  You cannot put on a dress, say you’re a woman, and call yourself trans.  While the NCAA file does go on to explain this, it’s still not addressing the central concern – competitive advantage of trans women over cis-women.  It seems the NCAA simply wanted to include this soap-box social justice rhetoric in their article.

The second assumption – that of an unfair competitive advantage – is never answered.  The paper does not go on to fully address whether or not this is or isn’t the case, because it references only women who transition before puberty, and this is not the same ruling that the Olympic Committee is making.  So professor Joanna Harper is just flat out wrong in saying that their ruling “matches up” with the NCAA guidelines.

You know… I was really hoping I’d find some research justifying the Olympic Committee’s decision.  And you can tell – just go click on the debate thread I linked.  I thought I was making a pretty good case.  But here it turns out it’s just another SJW cause focused on including trans women without addressing the very legitimate criticisms that naturally come from doing such a thing.  And I’m guessing that criticism will never be addressed, since even bringing it up will no doubt be met with the usual tactics.

Anyway there’s one last source we haven’t run through.  It’s the 2003 Stockholm report that was referenced in the 2015 report.  Wanna take a wild stab on what it’s findings were?  If you said “it’s only fair that trans-women can compete” – then you’ve been paying attention.

You can find the Stockholm report here:

From the report:

>>The group recommends that individuals undergoing sex reassignment from male to female after puberty (and the converse) be eligible for participation in female or male competitions, respectively, under the following conditions:

^^^ It’s never addressed whether or not trans female athletes genuinely have an advantage over cis-female athletes.

The Conclusion

It’s very possible that trans-women do not have any advantages over cis-women after a year on HRT.  However, without evidence backing up that assertion, there’s no way we here at 4th Wavers can support that decision.  4th Wave Feminism is evidence based.  This means decisions change only if that’s what the evidence supports, and also change if no evidence supporting an assertion can be found (as was the case here).

It’s extremely unfortunate that the Olympic Committee is basing it’s decisions on what happens to be popular in the media, and not on actual science.  Given that multiple agencies appear to be jumping on the bandwagon here with no research backing them up does give the impression that such policies are only being instituted because they’re popular.