It’s Fair for Boys to Play Girls Sports If They Say They’re Girls
What Would You Say?
You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Transgender athletes should be able to participate on whatever sports teams they choose. Girls’ sports should be open to anyone who says they are female.”
What would you say?
Some people think that gender is determined by how you feel and identify, not by your biology. So, if someone feels and identifies as female, then they are female and should be allowed the same opportunities as every other female, including the right to compete on female sports teams. *Citations*
You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Transgender athletes should be able to participate on whatever sports teams they choose. Girls’ sports should be open to anyone who says they are female.” What Would You Say? Some people think that gender is determined by how you feel and identify, not by your biology. So, if someone feels and identifies as female, then they are female and should be allowed the same opportunities as every other female, including the right to compete on female sports teams. Next time you hear this argument, here are three things to remember. First, allowing biological males to compete with girls ignores real physical differences. There’s a reason men and women’s athletic competitions have long been separate. Men have, on average, 36% more muscle mass than women. Men tend to be taller, and their bones are thicker and denser. Conversely, women have lower lung volume and lower airflow capacity because they have smaller lungs and airway diameter. This is just part of the reason that Eric Villian, professor of human genetics at UCLA and a consultant to the International Olympic Committee concludes that “[t]here is a 10 to 12% difference between male and female athletic performance.” The fastest men are faster than the fastest women. Likewise, the strongest men are stronger than the strongest women, even if they are in the same weight class. These biological realities are the reason men’s and women’s sports have long been separated. Which leads us to the second point. Allowing boys to compete with girls denies girls the chance to compete on a level playing field. Once athletic competitions are separated by feelings alone, girls lose the ability to compete against those who are physically similar. This is happening already with significant impact on women and girls at every level. In just the last two years, two biological males have won 15 girls track and field championships in Connecticut. These same two male athletes have participating in 40 qualifying events, filling slots that otherwise would have been filled by girls who are biologically female. Over their two remaining years of high school career, they are likely to erase many more females from the high school record books as well. This is happening in college as well. A student at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire previously competed on the men’s track & field team, but now competes as a female. In 2018, as a man, he placed 8th in a field of 9 in the 400 meter hurdles during a regular season meet. The following year, competing as a woman, he won the national championship in the 400 meter hurdles by 1.5 seconds. It is happening in weightlifting competitions as well. Mary Gregory, a biological male, set new world records in each of the 9 events he participated in during an event in April 2019. Those records have since been revoked by the competition who said they were unaware he was biologically male when he registered as a woman. In 2018, an athlete born male competed in a women’s mixed martial arts competition. His opponent, Tamika Brent’s was knocked out, with a concussion and a broken skull. Afterwards, Ms. Brent’s said, “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered in my life and I’m an abnormally strong female in my own right.” In most situations, if a man breaks the skull of a woman with his fist, it would be a crime. We all want to be understanding, but in this case, being understanding also requires us to understand what it means for women and girls who are forced to compete against biological males for political reasons. Which leads to the third point. Allowing boys to participate in girls’ sports threatens the existence of women’s sports In the United States, sports used to be almost exclusively for boys. A federal law called Title IX was created in 1972 to make sure athletic opportunities existed for women in the same way they existed for men. In 1972, less than 4% of girls competed in any organized sports. Today, 40% of girls do. In 1972, 295,000 girls in America competed in high school sports, compared to 3.67 million boys. As of 2011, 3.2 million girls played high school sports along with 4.5 million boys. This has also created athletic scholarship opportunities. 45 years ago, almost no female athletic scholarships existed. As of 2012, almost 200,000 women played college athletics, many on scholarship. All of these opportunities for women and girls were created because we recognized that the physical difference between men and women shouldn’t prevent women from having the opportunity to compete. Today, we are being asked to pretend that the only difference between men and women is the way we feel. If women’s sports teams must allow male born athletes to compete on girl’s teams, all women’s leagues will become co-ed the moment a male athlete says he feels like a woman. In the past, it was considered misogyny when men took opportunities from women.. Today, it’s called equality. So next time someone tells you that female sports should be open to anyone who says they are female, remember these three things. 1. Allowing boys to compete with girls ignores physical differences. 2. Allowing boys to compete with girls denies girls the chance to compete on a level playing field. 3. Allowing boys to participate in girls’ sports threatens the existence of women’s sports
Two boys who identify as girls have recently won 15 girls track-and-field titles. (June 17, 2019), https://bit.ly/2Yg0S6A.
Mary Gregory stripped of 9 world records after entering female weightlifting competition: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/05/16/stripped-womens-records-transgender-powerlifter-asks-where-do-we-draw-line/
“There is a 10-12% difference between male and female athletic performance”. Tim Layden, Is it fair for Caster Semenya to compete against women at the Rio Olympics?, SI (Aug. 11, 2016)
Men have, on average, 36% greater skeletal muscle mass than women. Ian Jansen, Steven B. Heymsfiled, ZiMian Wang, and Robert Ross, Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18-88 yr, 89 J. Applied Physiology 81, 85-86 (July 2000), available at https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ jappl.2000.89.1.81. 11
Men are taller than women. Opening ‘the X-files’ helped researchers to understand why women and men differ in height, ScienceDaily (Feb. 4, 2014), https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140207083836. htm (discussing a study showing how the X chromosome may impact height in women).
Men have thicker and denser bones than women. Jeri W Nieves, Carmelo Formica, Jamie Ruffing, Marsha Zion, Patricia Garrett, Robert Lindsay, Felicia Cosman, Males Have Larger Skeletal Size and Bone Mass Than Females, Despite Comparable Body Size, 20 J. of Bone and Mineral Res. 529 (Dec. 4, 2009) (discussing how males have higher lean mass, bone mineral content, and bone mineral density than females).
Female athletes have lower lung volume and maximal expiratory airflow rates than their biologically male counter-parts on account of small lungs and airway diameter. See Anthony C. Hackney, ed., Sex Hormones, Exercise and Women: Scientific and Clinical Aspects, at 21-23 (Springer 2017).
The fastest men are faster than the fastest women. Olympic Game Records, IAAF, https://www.iaaf.org/records/ by-category/olympic-games-records (last visited Aug. 21, 2019).
The strongest men are stronger than the strongest women. Compare Olympic Records, IWF, https://www.iwf.net/results/olympic-records/ (reporting, for example, a total of 357 kg lifted in the 69 kg category), with Women’s Olympic Records, IWF, https://www.iwf.net/results/ olympicrecords/?ranking_curprog=current&ranking_gender=w &x=8&y=5&y=12 (last visited Aug. 21, 2019) (reporting a total of 286 kg lifted in the 69 kg category).
Prior to Title IX, only four percent of girls played organized sports. The She Network, https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/education/ title-ix-and-the-rise-of-female-athletes-in-america/ (last visited Aug. 21, 2019)
Today forty percent of girls participate in organized sports. The She Network, https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/education/ title-ix-and-the-rise-of-female-athletes-in-america/ (last visited Aug. 21, 2019)
In 1972, 295,000 girls competed in high school sports, compared with 3.67 million boys. Fred Bowen, Title IX has helped encourage many girls to play sports, Washington Post (June 20, 2012), https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/title-ix-hashelped-encourage-many-girls-to-playsports/2012/06/20/gJQAR xx3qV_story.html.
In 2010-2011, that number had risen to 3.2 million girls, compared with 4.5 million boys. Fred Bowen, Title IX has helped encourage many girls to play sports, Washington Post (June 20, 2012), https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/title-ix-hashelped-encourage-many-girls-to-playsports/2012/06/20/gJQAR xx3qV_story.html.
As of 2012, almost 200,000 women played college sports, many of them on scholarship. Bowen, supra n.22. The broader benefits of athletic participation for women are widely acknowledged. Female high school athletes are more likely to graduate from high school, get better grades, and be healthier, than girls who do not participate in sports and are less likely to get into trouble. Id. Athletic participation also creates life-long opportunities for women. See Haley Samsel, USA Today (June 23, 2017),https://www.usatoday.com/story/college/2017/06/23/title-ixturns-45-today-its-impact-goes-beyond-women-playing-sports/ 37433427/