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Sports should have two categories: “open” and “female”

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  • Sports should have two categories: “open” and “female”

    Sports should have two categories: “open” and “female”
    Biology doesn’t always matter. But sometimes it matters a great deal

    Lia Thomas, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, is an excellent swimmer. She often beats her rivals by tens of seconds, breaking records. Her success is based on three things. One is natural talent. Another is relentless training. And the third is biology.

    For although she identifies as a woman, Ms Thomas was born male. Since humans cannot change their sex (unlike their self-identified gender), she remains that way. On the eve of her biggest competition, Ms Thomas finds herself at the centre of the bad-tempered debate about whether trans women—males who identify as women—should compete in women’s sports. That, in turn, is part of a broader argument: should brute biological facts sometimes override people’s deeply held feelings about their identities?

    This newspaper believes it is almost always unfair to allow transgender women to compete in women’s sports. The advantages bestowed by male puberty are so big that no amount of training or talent can enable female athletes to overcome them. Florence Griffith Joyner’s 100-metres world sprinting record has stood for three decades. A male matching it would not even make it to the Olympics, let alone the final. In 2016, at an American event for high-schoolers, four of the eight boys in the 100-metres final ran faster.

    Much of the male advantage is granted by testosterone, a potent anabolic steroid whose levels rise sharply in male puberty. For many years many sporting bodies, following the lead of the International Olympic Committee, hoped to finesse the issue by allowing trans women to compete in women’s events provided they took testosterone-suppressing drugs. But the science suggests this does not level the playing field. Suppressing testosterone in adults, it seems, does little to undo the advantages granted by a male adolescence.

    Sports must therefore choose between inclusion and fairness; and they should choose fair play. That does not mean, as is sometimes alleged, that trans women would be barred from all sport. One way to make that clear would be to replace the “men’s” and “women’s” categories with “open” and “female” ones. The first would be open to all comers. The second would be restricted on the basis of biology.

    Sport is public, and results can be measured objectively. That means the argument that the material facts of biology should sometimes outrank a person’s subjective sense of identity is easier to make. But it applies in other areas, too. Several countries, including Britain, Canada and parts of America, allow male prisoners to declare that they are women and be housed in female jails. Scandalously little thought has been given to the risk that predatory males taking advantage of such rules pose to female prisoners. The conflation of sex and gender by well-meaning officials also risks eroding the usefulness of official statistics on everything from pay gaps to crime.

    Some of these arguments will be touted or twisted by those who wish trans people ill. Such bigotry exists, as a Republican bill in Florida to restrict “instruction” in schools about gender identity or sexual orientation makes plain. That should be resisted, too. Most of the time, it costs little or nothing to respect people’s choices about how they wish to present themselves. In the rare cases where rights clash, society must weigh the trade-offs sensitively and with open eyes. ■

    This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Facing the facts"
    I agree.

    Having women be in their own group is no different than weight classes for wrestling or boxing. Nobody says featherweights are weak because they're not heavyweights.

  • #2
    They should base it on hormone testing IMHO. There should be certain ranges of testosterone and estrogen (and probably other hormones whose names I can’t pronounce) which determine whether someone is eligible to compete as a man or a woman. I don’t think an “open” competition is really fair to cis-women, as they’ll just get destroyed in most instances. Hell, I would’ve competed as a woman in high school if I could’ve and then wiped the floor with everybody. 😂

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mile High Salute View Post
      They should base it on hormone testing IMHO. There should be certain ranges of testosterone and estrogen (and probably other hormones whose names I can’t pronounce) which determine whether someone is eligible to compete as a man or a woman. I don’t think an “open” competition is really fair to cis-women, as they’ll just get destroyed in most instances. Hell, I would’ve competed as a woman in high school if I could’ve and then wiped the floor with everybody. 😂
      As the editorial notes, the changes testosterone causes during puberty can't be undone.

      And the categories "open" and "female" would prevent biological males competing against biological females, which is the problem. These guys competing against women are just ****ing things up.

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      • #4
        Women get 2nd fiddle to men yet again. This time liberal policy is the culprit.


        lmao at this hilarious backfire. NO, women, you do NOT get sports. Men do.

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        • #5
          Caitlyn would have dominated the women.

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