Sports, biology, and politics
May 11, 2019 - Saturday 4:05 AM by E.R. Nartatez
“And He created them male and female.” Genesis 1:27
Fallon Fox got married when he was 19, and his wife gave him a baby girl. He joined the US Navy to provide for his family. The marriage collapsed. Fox struggled with gender identity issues.
He left the Navy and also dropped out of college. He then worked as a truck driver to earn enough money for “sex reassignment surgery”. Travelling to Bangkok, Thailand in 2006, he underwent a battery of surgeries, including breast augmentation and hair transplant. He is now a “trans woman”.
A trans woman is someone born male (with XY chromosomes and other male biological markers) but feels, thinks, and identifies as female.
After transitioning, Fox entered the world of professional MMA women’s division. In 2013, after winning his first two fights, he came out as a trans woman. This created a controversy. At the heart of the debate is the question, ‘Is it fair to allow someone who’s born male, grew up as a man but transitions into a trans woman, to compete in the women’s division?’
On September 13, 2014 Fox fought Tamikka Brents (reigning champion at the time). In a post-fight interview Brents 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 ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. Her (referring to Fox) grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn't move at all in Fox's clinch.”
Brents lost in devastating fashion. She ended up in the hospital with a concussion and a broken skull (an orbital bone fracture), and required seven surgical staples for head wounds, injuries inflicted in the very first round!
Recently (Feb. 2019), two trans athletes won 1st and 2nd place in a high school (Connecticut) track championship in the girl’s division.*
Last month trans woman Mary Gregory broke four women’s powerlifting records in one day—set records in squat, bench press, deadlift and a Masters world total record.
The trend has not gone unnoticed.
Legendary tennis player and coach Martina Navratilova, lesbian and LGBT proponent, questioned the fairness of allowing biological male athletes to compete in the women’s division. She said, "Letting men compete as women simply if they change their name and take hormones is unfair.”
She further stated, "It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair."
She was defrocked from the advisory board of Athlete Ally (LGBTQ athlete advocacy group) following her comments.
Another prominent sports personality that expressed similar concerns is Sharron Elizabeth Davies, Olympian silver medalist, winner of two gold medals (1978 Commonwealth Games). She tweeted,
"I have nothing against anyone who wishes [to] be transgender. However, I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex you are born with & the gender you may identify as. To protect women’s sport those with a male sex advantage should not be able [to] compete in women’s sport."
Specifically addressing Gregory’s record-breaking performance, she said, "This is a trans woman, a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete... it’s a pointless unfair playing field.”
LGBT activists accuse Navratilova, Davies, et. al. as bigots and transphobic. In response they explain that they simply want to save women’s sports and women athletes from being unfairly dominated by trans athletes. They lay out their arguments based on biological science and not bigotry.
They argue that the science behind the physical development between men and women make all the difference when it comes to sports.
Dr. Antonia Lee, elite coach and medical scientist, explains, “Testosterone during growth, puberty and maturation results in quite remarkable differences between the sexes. Testosterone in males at puberty drives: an increase in bone size and density; an increase in muscle size and strength; an increase in the tensile strength of ligaments and connective tissue; an increase in red blood cells... the list is extensive." In fact, she argues, "The fastest female sprinter in the world is easily beaten by male club athletes."
Dr. Alison Heather, physiology professor, agrees: "The physiological attributes of males that makes them naturally stronger include anatomical and biological features such as size, muscle mass, lung capacity, and heart size."
Due to the controversy, sports federations have put up guidelines similar to the IOC (International Olympic Committee): Trans athletes provide legal identification, their status must remain four years after competition (minimum), suppress their testosterone to a level of 10 nmol/L for 12 months.
Dr. Lee is unconvinced. “The current IOC rules for transitioning are clear. Unfortunately, they are based upon poor science that has focused on non-elite endurance athletes. The big issue… remains the late-transitioning male-to-female (MtF) athlete in events focusing on size, speed and power… The natural physical and physiological differences between men and women when it comes to growth, maturation and performance are simply not negated by a 12-month window of testosterone suppression. Furthermore, the serum testosterone limit set by the IOC for eligibility for competition (MtF transition) is considerably higher than typically seen in a female athlete…”
Most importantly, and when it comes to MtF transitioning athletes specifically, the points that the trans activists never address with supportive evidence through calm, rational debate with informed individuals are these: 1) what about T (testosterone) during growth and maturation? 2) what about cellular male muscle memory? 3) what about the obvious physical and biomechanical differences between men and women? There are many, very good reasons why sport has always been split into sex (not gender) categories for fairness.”
Even undergoing IOC hormone therapy, a post-puberty trans MtF athlete, will still retain “the physical advantages of being male-bodied… retain in the short-term many of the physiological advantages associated with” natural “male physiology and previous athletic training… Quite frankly, it couldn’t be more unfair.”
The controversy will continue, with both sides marshalling arguments in their favor. I hope that the conversation and the debate will uphold civility, will be based on facts, must not be muddled with political correctness, and aiming at a win-win solution.
Sports is supposed to be fierce, fun, and fair. Let’s keep it that way.
* For more on this story, watch this video:
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