Transgender sports competitors

A very good article by Tony Wall at Stuff looking at the issue of transgender competitors in elite sports.

One extract:

Like many sporting federations around the world, Cycling NZ has adopted guidelines issued by the International Olympic Committee in 2015 , requiring transgender female athletes to prove their testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) for at least 12 months prior to first competition.

The average testosterone level for young men is 24.2 nmol/L  and for women around 0.6 nmol/L.

The trouble is the differences between the biological sexes is more than just testosterone. There seems little doubt that athletes who were born male can beat those born female, even if their testosterone is below a certain level.

One can have sympathy for transgender athletes. They work and train hard to get to the top tier, and banning them from competing because they are transgender is harsh on them. And no, I don’t think anyone would go through hormone and/or surgery just so they can better comparative sporting results. The two examples in NZ, seem very genuine – as are the others I am sure.

But you also have to have sympathy for the female athletes who are biologically female. They can train just as hard and be the best in the world, but then have someone who is not biologically a female beat them, and feel that nothing they can do will allow them to win.

In trying to balance the competing rights, I don’t think the current IOC rule is working.

In my mind, it comes down to what does the most harm. I think the risk is that many top sportswomen will be driven out of competitions where they think they have no chance of winning.

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