Can We Have a Rational Discussion About Biological Males Competing Against Biological Females?
If you support biological males who identify as females competing in female sports, can I ask you two simple questions? First, why do you think some of these athletes are smashing women’s records even after being on hormone treatments for two years or more? Second, in your heart of hearts, are you sure that this is fair to the other women?
This was a live topic in the recent Olympics, as New Zealand’s Gavin (“Laurel”) Hubbard, a biological male, competed against other women in weightlifting. Previously, I had written how, in a regional event, Hubbard absolutely smoked the competition, beating the nearest competitor, a Samoan woman, by nearly 20 kilograms.
But this should have occasioned no surprise, since Hubbard had previously competed as a male weightlifter. Was it any surprise he was now crushing the women, even though he was older and had been on hormone treatments to reduce testosterone and bone mass?
In 2018, the Daily Mail ran a headline stating, “Students and parents demand ‘unfair rule’ change after two transgender teen sprinters come first AND second in the girl’s state championship, months after one competed as a boy.”
Yet these same biological males had not been winning races as males. How is it that they were now beating females?
No Biological Advantage?
Today, the controversy surrounds college swimmer Will (“Lia”) Thomas, who is setting records and leaving his female competitors in tears. He has actually become number one in the country in certain events. (Check out this December 7 headline from the Mail: “Moment trans UPenn swimmer, 22, absolutely destroys her rivals in women’s freestyle event — winning by 38 seconds: Sparks fury by smashing two women’s records one year after competing as a male.” Yes, thirty-eight seconds!)
As noted by Fox News, “After just five meets and the Akron Invitational, Thomas has not just destroyed opponents. The Penn freestyle records are being rewritten by a swimmer who was second-team All-Ivy league in 2018-19 — as a male.”
And you’re telling me he has no biological advantage?
You might say, “But that’s what you don’t understand. There’s a science to all this, and once these transwomen are on hormone therapy long enough, they lose their male advantage.”
Then why is it that Thomas, who was on the second team as a male, is now leaving the other women in his wake — quite literally? Why are they reduced to tears of frustration and anger? By what magic is this happening, if Thomas has no real advantage?
Thomas stated, “I’ve experienced a lot of muscle loss and strength loss,” explaining that it’s an “ongoing process” with “no clear end point.”
Yet even with this muscle and strength loss, Thomas, who was not a male superstar, has become a female superstar. Can you please tell me how that happened if Thomas has no unfair advantage over the women?
The university is even boasting about Thomas’s success. “The women are killing it!” Seriously?
The women are in second place after day one of the Zippy Invitational.
Lia Thomas set a pool and meet record in the 500 free!
— Penn Swimming & Diving (@PennSwimDive) December 4, 2021
Inclusion of a Male at the Cost of Exclusion of a Female
Consider these recent headlines, pointing to how widespread this controversy has become:
Western Standard: “Trans athletes create a competitive imbalance in sports”
Barbara Kay, who penned the op-ed for the Western Standard, noted that:
The switch from male to female competition so significantly upgraded Thomas’s athletic status, it made the difference between anonymity and stardom. But most significantly, it meant a worthy female competitor was unfairly bumped downward in the standings so Thomas could feel included. As in other cases of transwomen athletic performances, celebrated by activists, natal-male inclusion came at the expense of a female competitor’s exclusion.
One need only compare women’s Olympic records to those set by boys still in high school to see the stark physical difference between male and female elite athletes — or the humiliation of the Australian national women’s soccer team by 15-year-old boys. In 1998, tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams (ranked #5 and #17 in the world respectively at the time) played against an aging male player named Karsten Braasch (ranked 203rd among men). Braasch beat Serena 6-1 and Venus 6-2. CeCé Telfer ranked 390th among American male 400m hurdles runners in 2017 NCAA Division 2 athletics. After a year off for hormone therapy, Telfer won the women’s NCAA championship. (Hilariously, she claims to be at a disadvantage because, at 6’2”, she encounters greater wind resistance. Oddly, that didn’t hurt Usain Bolt.)
Again, for those who support these biological males competing with the ladies, how do you respond to this?
Do Male Advantages Really Disappear Because of Hormone Therapy?
I saw an interview where Serena Williams, in her prime, said that if she played male tennis star Andy Murray, “I Would Lose 6-0, 6-0 in Five Minutes.”
What would happen if Andy identified as female, even after a couple of years of hormone therapy? Would his advantages really disappear?
Again, to press the issue of fairness, just listen to what Thomas’s female teammates have to say. (And they are forced to do this anonymously, given the upside down PC climate of today.)
“No Matter How Much Work They Put In It, They’re Going to Lose”
The first to go public said, “Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this.” But, she added, “Our coach just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do.”
The second swimmer expressed how “angry” the other girls are, saying, “They feel so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they’re going to lose. Usually, they can get behind the blocks and know they out-trained all their competitors and they’re going to win and give it all they’ve got.”
She continued, “Now they’re having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win. I think that it’s really getting to everyone.”
It has reduced these competitive, hard-working women to tears.
Indeed, “While [the university leaders] say they care about all of us, our interests are in direct conflict with the interests of Lia in regards to fair competition and getting to compete. While we support Lia as a person to make decisions for her own life, you cannot make that decision and then come and impede on other people and their rights.”
Are You Sure This is Fair?
In a nutshell, “Your right doesn’t supersede everyone else’s right. … I know no matter what, biological women will never be on an equal playing field with transgender females.”
And this: “Even without Lia, we had the chance to win the Ivy League this year, which is a huge deal for us. We train every single day and give up so much for this sport. And I love swimming. I do it because I love it. It’s been a part of my life forever, and this is a slap in the face that the NCAA doesn’t care about the integrity of women’s sports.”
Yes, “This is such a cloud over everything. A cloud in the locker room, especially the last few days because we all know of how things have changed in the last week.”
So, I ask you again, how do you explain how these same individuals, when competing as men, lost their races and/or were on the second team, yet now, competing as women, are setting records? If there’s no biological advantage, what has happened?
And, once more, in your heart of hearts, are you sure this is fair? If it was your daughter who would have won if not for Thomas, banished instead to a distant second, would you be so sure?
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.