Prof. Doriane Lambelet Coleman (Duke) on Women's Sports and Transgender Questions


I'm delighted to report that Prof. Doriane Lambelet Coleman (Duke Law School) has agreed to blog this coming week on how transgender competitors should be treated in women's sports; she is the author of Sex in Sport, a recent law review article on that very subject. This is a matter that I have long found interesting, but haven't studied closely; I much look forward to learning more from Prof. Coleman's posts!

NEXT: Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Two points on Transgender participation in sports
    1) A male transgender into a female remains biologically a male, no matter how badly the body is mutilated and no matter how many hormones are added.
    2) mental health professionals are doing serious irreversable damage to those with the mental health issue.

    1. 1. [citation needed] I really don't know much about the process or results, but the bias shown in (2) doesn't hold much hope for unbiased citations from you, even if you were to provide them. But it would be a start.

      2. [citation needed] Especially from all perspectives. I know of some professionally who seem much happier after the transition. Your blanket condemnation is not helpful.

      1. Theres a lot more to being biologically male or female than cutting off your wiener and taking some hormones in the same way that you can't turn a Camry, into an F-22 by attaching plastic wings and spraypainting it grey. The above reality does not change no matter how many phony baloney judges and pols decree it so.

        This is not rocket science.

        1. Nice citations.

          1. That there are fundamental biological differences between men and women is an unspoken given in mainstream hard (real) sciences


            Without it, fundamental fields like women's medicine evaporate immediately. Its like arguing over whether the sky is blue. Now there is a powerful Inquisition that forces researchers to tiptoe around but its still an obvious conclusion that can and has been worked out by eminent scientists to preschool aged children.

          2. Alphabet moron. Do you need citations if I tell you that the human normal biological comsditon is to have two kidneys and one heart?

            Goddamn you're a piece of shit. You argue like some moronic college freshman that thinks that kind of sophist argument is somehow clever. In reality you're an annoyance and a waste of time.

            Basically just another ache Jeff. And emulating Little Jeffy is not a good thing.

        2. Google is now paying $17000 to $22000 per month for working online from home. I have joined this job 2 months ago and i have earned $20544 in my first month from this job. I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out whaat i do.....

          click here =====??

      2. I really don't know much about the process or results

        There's plenty of stuff in libraries and on the internet you could read, but asking someone to "cite" mammalian biology is like asking them to "cite" contract law. It's a big subject.

        Sex in any organism is determined fundamentally by the sex cells it manufactures. Sperm or eggs. Or in some animals, both. But to make sex cells, you need sex cell factories (gonads.) In mammals, gonad determination is done by the presence or absence of a functioning SRY gene. Long before puberty, and any angst about gender identity. And you need equipment for delivering your sex cells to the right spot to allow them to meet and greet sex cells of the opposite type (genitals.) And then if you're a placental mammal of the egg creating kind, you're going to need a uterus. Beyond that, you're going to need all the equipment and instincts suitable for attracting a mate, and for helping to keep your offspring alive long enough for them to repeat the process.

        So having a bit of surgery, and taking a few hormones as a teenager or adult, isn't going to affect anything in that array of sexual characteristics until right near the end of the list. And even then at clown nose levels of sophistication. Taking female hormones now can't affect the hormones that sculpted your body form in utero, ditto surgery. A casual glance at Caitlin-Bruce Jenner's shoulders confirms this.

        1. Nice citations.

          1. Using extra testosterone is banned in male competitions. Why should the same not be the case for women competition? The hormone has quite noticeable benefits in performance.

          2. a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf|3.9.19 @ 1:27PM|#

            Nice citations.

            A AB - you have already demonstrated that you flunked you your high school sciences classes - No reason to continue bragging about your F's

            1. He wants citations for common biological knowledge.......

      3. He's objectively right about #1; The neuromuscular differences start in the womb, and aren't remotely erased by a year or two of hormone therapy.

        #2? I suppose it depends on whether you think encouraging delusion is "damage". Most people do.

        1. Nice citations.

          1. Yeah, I don't give cites for the Sun rising in the East, either. This stuff is pretty basic. Infants emerge from the womb already sexually differentiated.

      4. Everyone's lack of citations here are pretty telling.

        I don't know either, but taking hormone supplements can do a lot to change one's bone density and musculature, so most of these arguments by analogy/vehemence seem more narritivism than science.

        1. Huh. I finally appreciate something you posted. No citations either, but at least a different point of view with different assertions.

          1. I would be possible to provide you actual links if this site supported them.

            Don't bother thanking me for the citations.

            1. There is that whole Reason doesn't support links issue indeed.

          2. Bound to happen sooner or later!

            Note that my thesis does not require papers, only that the other side not seem to require them to be super sure of their PoC.

            (largely because I'm lazy)


          Puberty is not a de novo event but rather is a phase in the continuum of development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal function from fetal life through puberty to the attainment of full sexual maturation and fertility (Grumbach and Styne, 1998). Endocrine events recognized as adolescent puberty actually begin early in fetal life. The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadotropin-gonadal system differentiates in function during fetal life and early infancy, is suppressed to a low level of activity during childhood (the juvenile pause), and is reactivated at puberty (Grumbach and Kaplan, 1990; Grumbach and Styne, 1998). As mentioned earlier, a significant sex difference in fetal pituitary gonadotropin levels and the high circulating testosterone levels in the male fetus through the 24th week of gestation are the most pro>minent features of the hypothalamicpituitary-gonadotropin-gonadal system.

          1. That says little about the effects of post-puberty hormonal treatments, only that they won't recapitulate puberty.

            1. Not merely that they won't recapitulate puberty, but that they won't recapitulate the whole life cycle from zygote to puberty. Testosterone surges in males occur twice before puberty and affect not merely the development of sexual equipment but the whole skeleton and musculature.

              Since nature does not attempt to change its mind about sex differentiation, we are not aware of any pathway whereby hormones could take a male skeleton and musculature at age 15 and turn it into a female one. I'm saying fried eggs don't reassemble and uncook into raw ones in their shells. So I think the burden of proof is on you here.

              And this reply to Amos "That's why I talked about bone density so much - it's the be-all and end-all of sex" is, IMHO, pretty dumb. We're talking about women's sports and the entry into competition of biological males into their competitions. Your thesis is that bone density is not a player here ?

        3. Are you seriously verging on arguing with abc that hormone therapy completely transforms someone into a carbon copy of the opposite sex down to the molecular level to the point that its impossible to scientifically tell them apart from the actual article?

          lol now thats something I'd like to see a citation of.

          1. Yeah, Amos, that's what I'm saying. That's why I talked about bone density so much - it's the be-all and end-all of sex.


            1. Well Sarc, you are a well known weasel and idiot. So it's hardly his fault when he assumes you're making idiotic claims.

      5. A AB ABC " [citation needed] I really don't know much about the process or results, but the bias shown in (2) doesn't hold much hope for unbiased citations from you, even if you were to provide them. But it would be a start."

        Do you seriously need a citation - Did you flunk all your science classes in junior high school?

        But to give you a hint - surgery and/or mutilation will not change the xy chromosomes into xx chromosomes or visa versa.

        1. its clear abc is not debating in good faith but citations were published nonetheless. Expect them to quietly drop out of the thread or essentially ignore them.

  2. They should be treated just like everyone else.
    And the artificial distinctions of 'mens' and 'womens' sports should be abolished.

    No more mens or womens tennis, just tennis.
    No more mens or womens basketball, just basketball.
    No more mens or womens soccer, just soccer.
    Pull up the 'ladies stakes' on the golf tees.

    Now that men are women, women are men, and it only matters to them; we can finally cut college costs by eliminating the artificial distinctions, and implement Title IX as it was intended.
    The same should go for all professional sports.

    1. I agree with this, there should just sports and whoever makes it makes it. I'm sure lefties will be pleased.

      1. "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

        The 60s generation fought so long and hard for equal access to sports for women. Ahhh, well. It is the a priori nature of the declaration of female that is important, not the millenia of hard-won wisdom of differing physical capabilities.

        It was a good 30 year run.

    2. Not sure whether this is meant entirely in fun, but lest it isn't, there seems to me to be a regrettable tendenciy in some who are repelled by the absurdities of progressive "groupists" nevertheless to accept groupism in their reactions. Women are not all wimmin.

      Women's sports - ie where there's a category of competition which is open only to women, exists so that women can enjoy playing competitive sports that they could not compete in if the competition was entirely open. It's conceptually no different to weight classes in boxing. The people who are harmed by allowing biological men to compete in women's competitions, are the biological women who have all their talent, training and dedication set to naught by being beaten by a man; and the people who enjoy watching the competition. It's for exactly the same reason that folk object to cheating with performance enhancing drugs - it spoils the game for those who play by the rules.

      There isn't some homogeneous class called "women" who are uniformly hell bent on destroying civiised life with destructive and mean spirited politicking. There's a small, but regrettably influential cass of spiteful harpies (some of the male) who are doing that, and the immediate victims in this case are the actual female competitors.

      We shouldn't cheer the destruction of women's sport by wimmin.

      1. Lee Moore, I want to thank you for your contributions to this blog. Your comments are always well thought out, intelligent, and well written.

        I agree with you on this. Allowing transgendered people to compete in sports in their chosen rather than biological gender is wrong. The assignment shouldn't be according to the gender label, but according to the physical and biological characteristics. Perhaps we need new terms for these, and stop calling sports men's and women's, and start calling them foo's and bar's, or something.

        1. Kind thoughts.

          I frequent this blog as (a) the articles are often quite interesting and learned and (b) it is possible to have a conversation, even an argument, with someone who has different opinions wthout it descending into a playground fight. There are one or two silly folk - the teenage and snippy we always have with us - but here in quite small doses - but I find the majority of people on here who regularly disagree with me, tend to be fairly polite and fairly coherent. I would say that there was a decline in this aspect of the comments during the WP dynasty, but the VC is back to its former self now.

          1. I might add that some of the commenters are also quite interesting and learned.

        2. Instead of men's and women's sports, let use XY's and XX's.

          For an example: The March Madness Tournament will feature the best XY homo sapiens basketball players in college.

          It works for me. 🙂

          Kind Regards,

  3. Fuckin' transtesticles!

  4. "...she is the author of Sex in Sport..."

    Haven't read the article, but I'm pretty sure you get a penalty of some kind...

    1. Yeah, you are sent to the penalty box...

    2. Oh, I thought it said "Sex AS a Sport".

  5. but haven't studied closely

    What is there to study? People take a old common sense moral precept to be fair and evenhanded to others then mutate it into an extreme divine imperative that everything must be mathematically equal in all respects in all cases regardless of how little sense or what benefit or lack of it would have in particular situations, the concept of equalism is worshipped as a good in and of itself, and it is an unquestionable truth at the same time it demands to be implemented.

    Its kinda like how the prohibition against pork may have started out as a common sense health measure but ends up being a rule that was sacred in and of itself that people sometimes kill and die for.

  6. Why would I wan to study transsexuals? I have no desire to become one.

    1. So I take it studying frogs or Spanish is out too ?

      1. I want to become a Spanish.

        1. I am going for Mayan, that way I can bring them back from Extinction.

      2. No, frogs and Spanish are interesting.

        1. I agree, I've been studying frogs for years and I find them to be quite ribbit ribbit ribbit ribbit ribbit

          1. I also find frogs ribbiting!

  7. How many women that transformed to men are clamoring to play men's sports? There you have your answer.

  8. Casually scanning the Sex in Sports essay, it looks to me like the prof is all for reserving women's (Excuse me, XX chromosome sports, I suppose, because she insists that anyone who claims to be a "woman" is one.) sports for women, while women get to compete in men's sports if they feel like it.

    Classic, "What's mine is mine, and what's your's is mine, too." feminist reasoning. I saw no sign that she thought there was any reason men might be entitled to their own sports, in the same manner women are.

    But it was just a quick scan, 10 pages or so. So I may be surprised when she starts posting.

    1. I really don't see a problem with this. In most sports, the men's competition would not be affected by the introduction of female competitors. Whereas the women's competition would be destroyed by male competitors.
      As John McEnroe pointed out - to his cost - allowing men into women's tennis would deny watchers the privilege of watching superb, competitive, athletes like the Williams sisters from showing us their stuff. They'd be knocked out in round 1 or 2. Every time.

      So the men's competition can be seen as "open" whereas the women's can be seen as closed, available only to a specific class - like weight classes in boxing.

      1. In this men = women business in sports, it's sporty women who suffer. Men don't need to complain about it, except vicariously on behalf of sporty women.

        What men can reasonably complain about on their own behalf is the application of Title IX to sports. Sport is important to and enjoyed by both men and women. But not equally. Many more men than women like playing sports. So "equalising" access to sports prevents lots of men pursuing an interest that is important to them, while having no comparable effect on women.

      2. As John McEnroe pointed out - to his cost - allowing men into women's tennis would deny watchers the privilege of watching superb, competitive, athletes like the Williams sisters from showing us their stuff. They'd be knocked out in round 1 or 2. Every time.

        And people got mad at McEnroe, but this has actually been demonstrated. At the Australian Open one year, the #203 ranked man played BOTH Williams sisters, who said they could beat any man outside the top 200 (which is ALREADY sketchy because guys outside the top 200 don't frequently advance much in Grand Slam tournaments)

        He slaughtered them. 6-1 against Serena than 6-2 against Venus. He said he took it easy to make it fun to boot. Said they wouldn't compete against top 600 ranked men if their play against him was an indication.

        1. I very vaguely recalled hearing something about that but was thought it was probably decades ago. Checked the good ol' Google machine and sure enough:

          https: // 1298&dat=19980127&id=kqJjAAAAIBAJ= mggGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3506,5011601 [remove spaces]

          January 1998, Serena was 16 and Venus 17, and the neither were ranked in the top 20 or had won a tournament. Not exactly unheard of for teenagers to display a certain hubris, but few get called on in like that.

          Same sports page referred to Pacers coach Larry Bird. In 1998.

          OK, I'm old.

          1. I'd argue hubris requiring "I can beat somebody who is not in the TOP 200" is weak sauce indeed.

      3. Even for sports where the introduction of grossly unequal participants doesn't risk injuries, there's a serious problem: For most men's sports, the women are just going to be totally uncompetitive. For instance, I made the wrestling team at my HS. It was grueling, there wasn't a girl in the entire school who could have made the cut.

        That's just biological reality. Sure the bell curves overlap, but by the time you get into the right tail of physical performance for the men, you're looking at a vanishingly small number of women.

        In the face of that reality, you can either drop the standards to the point where the sport is spoiled for the men, or it's going to de facto be a men's sport anyway.

        And, we know from unfortunate history that the anti-discrimination movement just doesn't accept that latter result. They're ideologically committed to the idea that the absence of discrimination means equal outcomes, so unequal outcomes is absolute proof of discrimination.

        So the reality is that any HS wrestling team that tried to be normal HS wrestling would be under continual legal attack, Expensive legal attack. The predictable result would be that either HS wrestling gets dropped, or the sport gets ruined in an effort to make it something women could compete in.

        That's why we have to acknowledge that men and women aren't physically the same, and have dual tracks for most sports. You combine the tracks, and either the women get pushed out, or the sports get ruined.

        1. "It was grueling, there wasn't a girl in the entire school who could have made the cut."

          I doubt that. Here's a recent article about two female wrestler in Colorado, competing against men, placing 4th and 5th at a Colorado state wrestling tournament. I don't know how many entrants there were.

          The article also raises some gender issues on the other side. A male wrestler conceded because he thought it unchristian to grope a woman. So maybe there are male issues that should lead us to have Christian-only wrestling teams. But in general, I don't see any problem with women wanting to compete against men in wrestling. And since you think it will become de facto men's sports anyway, what do you care?

  9. Transwomen and transgirls must be allowed to play on the sports team (and use the locker room) that matches their gender identity. It should not matter what their hormone levels are, or what genitalia they have.

    If cisgender female athletes resent this idea, they are hateful science-denying bigots who need a lesson in intersectional feminism. That attitude is no better than the bigotry of white Major League Baseball players last century who refused to play against athletes of color.

    1. I identify as a woman. I would like to join the volleyball team.


    2. A ) The gender identity and the biological identity of a male who has transitioned to a female remains a male.
      B) The transgendered male may believe he is a female, but he remains a male. His mental illness may cause him to believe he is now a female, which is an issue for his mental health professional to deal with

  10. Have you see the stories of the transgendered runners in Connecticut and the wrestler in Texas who took home first place in those high school girls events? Of course, they couldn't be banned from participating. That would be discrimination.

    There's also been a few stories of male-to-female athletes possibly being allowed to complete on the Olympic women's team.

    We just need a new classification in sports. If this group of people feel that special about their change, shouldn't they simply complete against each other in a transgender grouping?

    1. But then literally nobody would care because, as male athletes, they are not that good and nobody would view them as women seriously.

      It would be the smartest move for the sports community to end this nonsense, though.

  11. If you want to have women's sports, you need to keep trannies out.

    Sorry, but third tier male athletes will obliterate elite females the vast majority of the time.

  12. Cute: A British rapper, Zuby. to test the theory that men have no biological advantages over women in regards to strength, decided to identify as a woman and then proceed to obliterate UK women's powerlifting records.

    Says "she" wasn't even really trying that hard. Just wanted to be very brave.

    Broke deadlift and bench press reps records

  13. When are the tryouts for the women's beach volleyball team?

    1. Who cares? When are the showers?

      1. I'll be there, proud and female, and making sure all those girls scrub up good.........real good.

  14. It seems to me that there are three possible end states in sports competition:

    1. we have men's competition, women's, and TG women's
    2. we have 57 different competitions, one for each gender
    3. we have only one competition per sport, accepting all comers

    the current sports regime is certain to result in ex-men being the champions in all women's sport (except shooting, gymnastics, and...)

    thus killing sports for cis-women

  15. I have no problem viewing transgender persons as the gender they claim to be and using the pronouns they wish. Though where I draw the line is the notion that the distinction between "cis" and "trans" is one without a difference.

    There is a difference between the questions of 1. whether someone like Caitlyn Jenner and Cheslea manning are "women" and 2. what physical differences there are between transwomen and ciswomen?

    Scientists and medical doctors cannot answer number 1. That's something for philosophy and metaphysics (i.e., "what is a man?"; "what is a woman?" But scientists and medical doctors can answer number 2.


    reasonable article on negative effects of Transgender conversion and regrets.

    1. The author of the article is a famous male->female transgender activist, who supports transition (though not in all cases). That's why the author closes with--and you've now confirmed as reasonable--the following recommendation:

      "However, if you feel a very deep need to be a female in body-sex as well as in social-gender, and especially if you feel a deep need to fully express your female sensuality in intimacy and lovemaking, then transsexual transition and SRS may be right for you."

      You probably thought the article was about widespread dangers of transition. Not surprising, since it confirms your priors. For studies purporting to look at data relating to transition (rather than anecdotes), see here and here.

      I am not arguing for or against transition treatment. But I acknowledge that not everyone engaged in that study or practice is a culture warrior out to change society. Some people have patients and care about them. Gender dysphoria is, by all accounts, a real phenomenon. If transition is a viable treatment strategy, so be it. (If not, so not be it.)

  17. The whole basis of the "trans" movement is the claim that "gender" is something different from sex, and one can be of the male sex but the female gender. Sex is in the body, they declare, but gender exists only in the mind. And that since the test for "gender" is how one feels, one must take everyone at their word when they declare their gender. This is obvious nonsense, but no matter; let's stipulate it and run with it. Since the difference between men's and women's sports is based on physical characteristics, not mental ones, it should be based on sex, not gender. Women who are of the male sex should not be allowed to compete in women's sports. QED.

  18. Those arguing that "transwomen" should be allowed to compete in women's sports must explain why 24-year-olds who identify as 14 should not be allowed to compete in that age category.

  19. I expect either Prof. Lambelet's articles will either refuse to use pronouns completely or be completely unreadable.

  20. Is the Miss America pageant a sport? I sure am having difficulty getting entered as a contestant.

Please to post comments