Biological differences give men unfair advantage in women’s sport

Sportswomen should be protected from the “male performance advantage” being exploited by transgender athletes, a Guardian columnist has said. 

Sports journalist Tanya Aldred argued it was grossly unfair for men to be allowed to take part in the same competitions as women.

She made the remarks ahead of Tokyo 2020, where New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, previously called Gavin, has just become the first transgender Olympian.


Aldred argued that, by side-lining biological sex, “we fudge the very reason we have sex categories in sport: the male performance advantage. Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals”.

The benefits afforded by male puberty, including “speed, power, strength and so much else”, resulted in an “attainment gap” between the sexes, the columnist added.

She continued: “While the smallest attainment gap between the sexes comes in running, rowing and swimming events (11-13%), this moves up to 16%-22% in track cycling, and between 29% and 34% when it comes to bowling cricket balls and weightlifting.”

Arguing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had “tweaked its guidelines” several years ago to accommodate transgender athletes, Aldred concluded it wasn’t fair for the likes of Hubbard to “push open a door that was locked for a reason”.

Unfair competition

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Dr Carole Hooven – an expert in human biology at Harvard – similarly argued that male puberty confers “an advantage” for men “in most sports over natal females”.

IOC guidelines require male-born transgender athletes to demonstrate “total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months” before being allowed to take part in competitions for women.

But Hooven told the newspaper: “Reducing testosterone levels after puberty, as is the case in male-to-female transgender people who suppress their testosterone levels as part of hormone therapy, does not eliminate these advantages.”

Biology not ideology

Last month, Florida became the eighth US State to introduce a law banning boys from participating in girls’ sports in public schools.

At the launch, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced: “The Bill that we’re doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida.

“It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females, and we’re going to go based off biology, not based off ideology, when we’re doing sports.”

Also see:


Caitlyn Jenner says men should not play women’s sport

Female weightlifters ‘told to be quiet’ in face of male competitor

Olympic rules hand trans athletes ‘unfair’ advantage

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