A recent study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, demonstrated that even after two years of testosterone suppression and female hormones, men who believe they are women still outran biological females.
Researchers looked at medical records and fitness test results of 29 women who identify as men (labeled “transmen” by the authors) and 46 men who identify as women (called “transwomen” by the researchers) who started opposite sex hormones while in the United States Air Force. Those individuals also take drugs to block the female or male hormones naturally produced by their bodies.
Their pre-hormone and post-hormone results of the transgender-identified individuals were compared “with the average performance of all women and men under the age of 30 in the Air Force between 2004 and 2014.”
The results showed that prior to suppressing testosterone and taking female hormones, the men “performed 31% more push-ups and 15% more sit-ups in 1 min and ran 1.5 miles 21% faster than their female counterparts.” Two years after hormones and suppressants, “the push-up and sit-up differences disappeared,” but the men living as women “were still 12% faster.”
When the women who think they are men started taking testosterone and blocking female hormones, their athletic performances improved dramatically. Before taking what the researchers called “gender affirming hormones,” they “performed 43% fewer push-ups and ran 1.5 miles 15% slower than their male counterparts.” One year after chemical assistance, “there was no longer a difference in push-ups or run times, and the number of sit-ups performed in 1 min by transmen exceeded the average performance of their male counterparts.”
Dr. Timothy Roberts, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, co-authored the study with Doctors Joshua Smalley and Dale Ahrendt, both of whom are pediatricians at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, in Texas. Roberts told NBC News that the running results for the men taking female hormones suggest that a one-year minimum waiting period, for men to compete as women, isn’t long enough.
The International Olympic Committee set new guidelines in 2015 for men who think they are women to compete in women’s sports. The male athlete must declare that he is a woman, can’t change his identity for at least four years, and his testosterone levels must be below a minimum level for at least the previous year. There are no restrictions for women who identify as men to compete in men’s sports in the Olympics.
World Athletics, formerly the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), which provides oversight for track and field, cross country running and racewalking events, also has a one-year waiting period for men taking cross-sex hormones before they can compete against women.
In the U.S., the NCAA has the same one-year requirement for men to compete with women. But some high school boys, claiming to be females, have been allowed to compete as girls without any requirements for testosterone levels or cross-sex hormones. A female wrestler in Texas, who said she was a boy, was allowed to take testosterone while competing against other girls, giving her an obvious advantage in strength, muscle mass and aggression.
Being born male doesn’t necessarily make you a better athlete than a woman. But being born male and developing as a male gives male athletes significant advantages, such as greater lung capacity and heart size; larger, heavier bones and muscles; and different hip and leg structures.
This latest research affirms what we already knew: Taking female hormones and suppressing testosterone don’t change all those sex-based differences.
In 2019, two bioethics professors released a paper, “Transwomen in elite sport: scientific and ethical considerations.” The Daily Caller reported their conclusion that “male athletes who identify as transgender women have an ‘intolerable’ advantage over their female competitors.”
In October 2020, World Rugby looked at the science and announced new guidelines barring men who believe they are women and who transitioned after puberty from playing women’s contact rugby. World Rugby found that suppressing testosterone in a male who identifies as a woman only slightly reduces the innate biological differences such as muscle volume, body mass, strength and running speed. The guidelines were set in place to protect “women’s safety and fairness.”
The Christian Post interviewed Linda Blade about the research. Blade, “a founding member of the group Save Women’s Sports and an athletic coach from Alberta, Canada,” wrote in an email “that male and female bodies are fundamentally different and no amount of hormones can change that.”
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