Men have recently started competing against women in sports, and winning. Is that fair?
If the Equality Act becomes law, it will become much more common. This bill, which is backed by nearly 300 members of Congress, will assuredly pass the House this year and be a top priority issue for any future Democratic Senate or White House.
Under the proposed legislation, all federally funded entities would be required to interpret “sex” to include “gender identity.” If a man identities as a woman, they are to be treated as a woman. That includes, notably, high school and college sports.
Why have men and women always competed separately when it comes to sports in the first place? And why are they still? We are in the 21st century, right? A woman can do anything a man can do and even more, right? Believe me, I am all about girlpower.
But as equal as the sexes are, our biology will never be the same. The objective of equality of outcomes is fundamental, but the objective of the equality of outcomes is fundamentally flawed.
On a very basic level, the two genders are divided not because of their genders, but because the biological gender they are born with results in certain hormonal levels which have a lot to do with the level of athletic ability that person can achieve. One particular hormone is testosterone. You will find much more of this in men. In fact, men’s testosterone levels are around 280 to 1,100 Nano grams per deciliter while women’s normal levels are between 15 and 70 Nano grams per deciliter. This hormone increases bone density, and causes muscle mass growth and strength. It also triggers facial hair growth, so women everywhere should be thankful our bodies don’t produce more of that.
In light of this difference, pitting genders against one another physically would not challenge either competitor to achieve their highest athletic ability.
However, there are female athletes with a much higher level of testosterone than the average female. This includes Caster Semenya, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in middle-distance running. The International Association of Athletics Federations has attempted to regulate situations such as these by making a separate classification for athletes of Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) and will require those athletes to reduce their blood testosterone levels if they want to compete internationally. For some, situations like Semenya, justify allowing transgender women to compete with biological women. But using a statistical anomaly on the very outer bounds of the distribution mean of physiological traits to set policy for all is scientifically absurd.
What exactly happens when a male declares himself to be female? Do his hormone levels drop to match that of the average woman automatically? And as a result of that, does his athletic ability suddenly change to match that against whom he competes? Does his lung capacity decrease? How about his body fat percentage and muscle mass, does that change? No. Simply, when a man begins the process of becoming a transgender woman, he goes on hormone reducers. On the other hand, when a woman begins the transition from female to male, she is put on steroids, raising the level of testosterone.
Over time, these hormonal changes affect the individual’s body. But it won’t change them completely. Transgender women will still have more muscle mass and higher bone density than the average cisgender female, allowing them an athletic advantage, in a way, like Semenya. These advantages are physiological. They are present as a result of nature, not as a result of societal pressures or oppressive expectations.
As a former collegiate athlete, the idea that a subpar male athlete could declare himself a female, then swoop into women’s sports, dominate, and bump girls out of the running to receive a college scholarship, or win a state title, or get to playoffs, or compete at a national level, strikes me as taking opportunities away from women, not the other way around.
Girls and women should not be told to accept this as the new normal. In the name of progress and equal opportunity, it’s the height of irony to tell women they should just accept a scientifically un-level playing field which clearly discriminates against their gender.
In case we have forgotten, the strides women have made in sports have been rather recent. Of those who competed in the 2014 Olympics, 40 percent were women, compared to 2.2 percent in the 1900 Olympic games. The Women’s National Basketball Association has only been in existence for 23 years. National Pro-Fastpitch was only established in 2004. The Women’s Tennis Association has been around for less than 50 years. Sports have opened numerous doors for women, but those doors have not been open long.
Why would we let men, claiming they know what being female is like, come in and boot us out of our own opportunities?
The attempt to allow men to compete in women’s sports, or the larger Equality Act, is simply an attempt to erase the reality of biological sex. It’s absurd.