The Volokh Conspiracy

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Who Is a "Woman" in Sport

The battle between biology and identity is engaged.

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This series was originally written and posted in March 2019, after intersex athlete Caster Semenya's hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Since then, a lot has changed:

The House of Representatives (in passing The Equality Act) and the Biden Administration (in Title IX litigation) have taken the position that distinctions on the basis of sex in regulated programs are prohibited, no exceptions, full stop. According to them, maybe we can still have "girls'" and "women's" sport, but if we do, the eligibility standards for the category can't discriminate on the basis of sex, which they define to include gender identity. In other words, "women's" sports can include both males and females without regard to their gender identity or their physical status. They've provided no explanation for what makes the categories meaningful in light of this.

In response, the GOP has made the "protection of girls' and women's sport" an election issue, and along the way has managed to enact a series of measures that unnecessarily bar all transgender girls from girls' school sports teams, no exceptions, full stop. For the GOP, it doesn't matter what the transgender girl's age or physical status is, or whether it's a competitive or recreational environment. As I've written elsewhere, some of their proponents have misused me and my work in support of theirs.

In the meantime, sports policymakers have turned their full attentions to the question how to include transgender women and girls on female teams and in female events; with colleagues I co-founded the Women's Sports Policy Working Group (WSPG) to help develop science-based solutions to this challenge; and most recently, the IOC issued new non-binding guidance to the international federations designed to do the same. Still, as the story of Penn swimmer Lia Thomas exemplifies, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

[* * *]

Who would have thought that in the midst of the #MeToo moment, just as a film on menstruation gets an Oscar and we're celebrating RBG's jurisprudential legacy—including the part about celebrating inherent differences, we'd also be debating whether biological sex is a real thing or just a social construct, and whether, if it's real – if there is a "female body" and a "male body" with variations on the themes – it's ok to talk about it and to take it into account in the defense and development of law and policy. But here we are. And what a drama it is, especially in this period in the elite sports space. Martina Navratilova playing doubles with Rich Lowry against Rachel McKinnon and Scott Shackford. The LGBTQI coalition splintering, (I)ntersex versus (T)ransgender. Feminists of one stripe against feminists of another. Conservatives about sex and sexuality actively enjoying our civil war. Sex clearly gets us all exercised.

Using sports as a lens, I've been working to understand whether biological sex continues to be salient as a basis for classification in the institutional settings in which it is used, either as "sex" or by its synonym "gender." Or, was the Obama Administration right that "sex" should be erased from sex discrimination law and replaced by "gender", which it defined non-synonymously: "An individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth."

The development of a really good answer to this question has broad societal significance, but it is most immediately important to two groups. The first is biological females, because we are the intended beneficiaries of the remaining positive sex classifications; and, as continuing disparities and subordinations on the basis of reproductive sex reflect, they're still necessary. The second is biological males who identify as girls and women and so understandably want to be recognized in life and in law as they self-define, rather than according to the ambiguous or incongruent bodies they inhabit.

This is what's on the table:

Who is a woman for purposes of women's only spaces and set asides like women's sport, women's health, women's education, and women's prisons?

Should these spaces and set asides – originally designed "on the basis of sex" or else to remedy the effects of exclusions and subordinations on the basis of stereotypes about sex – continue to privilege female-bodied people, or should they be sex neutral so as not to exclude male-bodied people who identify as women or as gender fluid?

Is there even a winning argument under existing doctrine for a women's only space or set-aside that is not either directly or indirectly based in inherent differences, i.e., that is female sex blind?

If there isn't one, what does the winning argument under a new, gender identity-based doctrine look like, and can it (also) satisfy the goals of the original, i.e., can it protect and empower female-bodied persons who are and probably always will be subject to different treatment precisely because of their reproductive biology, regardless of how they identify?

I have five [posts] to give you a sense of how these issues play out in the conversation about eligibility for the women's category in elite sport. I'll mostly be excerpting from my article Sex in Sport which allows for a deep dive if you're so inclined.

[In the second post], I'll focus on inherent differences, i.e., on the relevant biology and on arguments about that biology. This includes the process of sex differentiation and arguments about whether sex is binary; and the physiology that drives the performance gap and arguments about whether it's really all about T (testosterone). Here, I'll dismiss the weirdly popular but baseless argument that testes and male T levels are no different than other superior body parts and socioeconomic advantages.

[In the third post], I'll summarize the case for retaining sex or at least sex-linked traits as the basis for classification into girls' and women's elite sport. I'll focus on defending Title IX, but its goals and the ways it has developed to achieve them have analogues across sport.

[In the fourth post], I'll tackle sex testing, with a focus on the current iteration which uses testosterone as a way both to distinguish males from females, and to include male-bodied athletes who identify as girls and women into the female category. This approach, which is reflected in the eligibility rule that Caster Semenya has challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has been subject to a years-long, extraordinarily aggressive public assault by academics and advocates who disdain the physical sciences and have deconstructed sex to the point where nothing remains except identity. And yet it actually represents an extraordinary compromise between complete exclusion—which is anathema to progressives, and unconditional inclusion—which would be category defeating.

[In the fifth post], I'll return to the issues I introduced above, with some concluding thoughts on: who is a woman for purposes of women's only spaces beyond sport; whether the classification should be based on identity and not biology; and whether existing doctrine can accommodate female sex blind claims.

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

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  1. Very nice post. As a seriously old white guy I will wax trollishly enough to remark how refreshing it is to hear a female voice among the Volokh folks.

    1. The 'intellectual diversity at academe is terrible' post-athon by a bunch of conservative white guys here is quite the trip.

        1. She was also trans - trans Democrat that is.

          Yet she got nothing but grief for her courage.

      1. Yes, because the validity of someone's ideas depend on their race and gender. How post-modern of you.

        1. An Ostrich with his head in the sand isn't going to see much besides sand. Maybe find something to do with your time if you are so bored.

          1. Let me know when you actually have a point to make.

            As for what I do, you are welcome to not post here. No one is forcing you to. Or, if you don't like my posts, then use the "Mute User" functtion. In the mean time, so long as the moderator allows it, I will continue to post. It's his blog, not yours.

            1. Relax, dude. It's a slight on your name...

              And the point is that people who don't see how this blog is stuffy are, unsurprisingly, not going to see the reasons why. Continue to be as oblivious as you'd like. And with the conspirators' blessings! Lathered rubes as they say.

  2. "In the meantime, sports policymakers have turned their full attentions to the question how to include transgender women and girls on female teams and in female events;"

    "Not at all." Seems to be a viable answer.

    1. If you’re a dick, sure.

      1. If you have a dick, what are you doing on the female team?

        1. That's post #2, apparently. But I'd recon it's not about the dick as much as it is the balls.

      2. As I see it, if anyone's "a dick" it's the (biological) male who insists on "competing" against females.

  3. "In response, the GOP has made the "protection of girls' and women's sport" an election issue"

    Lol, these people have at best disdain for Title IX, they don't care a whit about women's sports.

    1. I don't give a damn about sports in general, so I view all of this with a certain level of bemusement and outright ridicule.

      1. IT guy doesn't care about sports, in other news sun rises in East.

        1. QueenA continues to display an astonishing lack of self-awareness in own bigotry, ignorance and prejudice. In other news, water is still wet.

          1. Oh no, Rossami has laid bare my bigotry against IT guys! Lol.

            1. Nah, it's pretty obvious to everyone here. But you still run a distant second to the "Rev Weasel" though. Unless of course you're just another one of his socks.

              1. "Another" of my socks, you bigoted rube?

                The more I learn about disaffected incels, right-wing misogynists, awkward IT workers, antisocial science fiction fans, autistic Republicans, and other shambling misfits at the fringe of modern society from the Volokh Conspiracy, the less sympathy I can muster in their context.

        2. What can I say? On the college level it's just a way for people who are most likely otherwise academically unqualified to serve as a cash cow for the school. On the pro level it's Bread and Circuses for the easily amused.

    2. "Lol, these people have at best disdain for Title IX, they don't care a whit about women's sports."

      Caring is a relative thing. Some of us want to open women's sports up to men, others don't.

    3. That talking point is common, but wrong.

      It was true that the 1970's conservative movement (not GOP- moderates, including President Nixon, supported Title IX) had little interest in women's sports. But one of the effects of Title IX is a whole bunch of parents, including conservative parents, now take their daughters to soccer games and softball practice, coach girls basketball teams, etc. Women's sports have become part of the fabric of America.

      1. Now everyone wants a piece of it.

        It's every man's right to play woman's sports if he wants to.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgp9MPLEAqA&t=2s

        1. I mean, what red-blooded American jock *doesn't* want to play with women?

          1. Kaitlin Jenner.
            Serena Williams.
            The list is long.

      2. I recall in 1980, when I was in junior high, a girl I knew told me her father was voting for Reagan. I was a bit surprised, as her father struck me as a Democrat. But, she said, he does not want me to be drafted, and Reagan promised there would be no women's draft.

        So politics does have unexpected ways of swaying people. I would think many parents of girls whose sports efforts have been ruined by wokeness might consider voting Republican, especially if Trump is sidelined.

        1. You figure this is the one that will save Republicans from the demographic tide that dooms them and their bigoted, stale, superstitious positions and thinking?

          Carry on, clingers.

    4. Rether than telling us what "these people" care about, why don't you tell us your view of whether a man who "transgenders" to being a woman should be allowed to compete in women's only sports?

      1. Although we typically disagree, I have found you to be almost always reasonable and to earnestly articulate your opinion. But, the phrase

        a man who "transgenders"

        raises troll red flags.

        I'm satisfied with the IOC and NCAA rules that permit trans women with low testosterone levels for at least a year to compete as women. Additionally, there are plenty of more recreational environments where trans women and girls should be categorically permitted to compete as women/girls (e.g., gym class).

        1. But, the phrase - a man who "transgenders" - raises troll red flags

          Because ?

          Asssuming you do not believe in witches, but were discussing witch related matters with someone who did believe in witches, how would you untrollingly refer to a woman who takes steps to convert from fairy to witch, without conceding that there are such things as fairies or witches ?

          What's the delicate inoffensive terminology you can use to continue the discussion without offense either to your own view or to your interlocutor's sensibilities ?

          For example, in abortion debates, I often use what I conceive to be the jocularly neutral term "crittur" to allow people to paint in their own view of whether it is a "human being" or a "person."

          1. The phrase "a man who transgenders" sounds like it would be said by someone who thinks a person whose gender identity does not match their biomarker sex is delusional.

            The person is a trans woman.

            1. The phrase "a man who transgenders" sounds like it would be said by someone who thinks a person whose gender identity does not match their biomarker sex is delusional.

              But why would that make them a troll, rather than simply someone who thinks a person whose gender identity does not match their biomarker sex is delusional ?

              Of course it doesn't have to be "delusional" it might just be disagreement with the notion that :

              The person is a trans woman.

              Or indeed any other kind of woman.

              I recall that we had a looooong discussion a while back in which I attempted again and again to get you to specify what it is that you think a person who is biomarker male but claims female gender identity thinks she is. On roughly the eleventh time of asking, you finally offered a negative specification - that the person thinks she isn't a man. At least that isn't automatically circular. Which was progress - but then you undid that step towards mutual understanding by immediately adding that there are "positive" aspects of the belief. Without specifying them.

              So I still have no idea of what you mean by "woman", "trans woman", or "gender identity" - hence tacking a lot of inverted commas around the words seems entirelty reasonable, lest it be thought that the words mean the same thing to different folk.

              1. So what would you do with Caster's situation?

              2. But why would that make them a troll, rather than simply someone who thinks a person whose gender identity does not match their biomarker sex is delusional ?

                It makes them a troll because 1) I categorically reject that viewpoint and 2) given that viewpoint, there is no need for any further discussion on policy choices.

                I still have no idea of what you mean by "woman", "trans woman", or "gender identity"

                A trans woman is biomarker male who has distress over her physical sex characteristics and/or being a male in her sex role in society.

                1. A trans woman is biomarker male who has distress over her physical sex characteristics and/or being a male in her sex role in society.

                  Well that's clear and non circular.

                  But it doesn't encourage me to think that describing her as a woman makes much sense - other than mere politeness.

                  A woman who was once a beauty, but who has aged out of it, may well be distressed over her not-beautful-any-more phyical appearance, and it may be that I would humor her by continuing to call her beautiful if that would make her happy (if I liked her, or if I didn't but my wife told me to do so) but that wouldn't actually make her beautiful.

                  So deference to someone's preferred gender seems fine to me - if it's voluntary and if the someone is not a jerk. But in any discussion of science and policy etc we have to retreat from mere politesse and face reality.

                  1. Describing her as a woman is what the doctor ordered.

                2. And the evidence that they are actually that and not pretending to be is...what?

                  A free college education could lead to plenty of boys deciding they are girls for sports.

                  If you were born male, you have biological advantages. End of story. It is not, in any way, a fair playing field.

                  If 12 practice squad players on a men's basketball team decided to "become" women, there'd be no actual woman on the women's team.

        2. “ I'm satisfied with the IOC and NCAA rules that permit trans women with low testosterone levels for at least a year to compete as women. “

          That rule is a joke in collegiate competition. Yes your current level of testosterone gives some advantages. However, the huge advantage is twenty plus years of testosterone fueled growth. That is the reason that on average men are about a foot taller, have more muscle mass, stronger bones, greater lung capacity, etc.

          1. Indeed. Thank you for making the point.

            Many women's sports are going to be destroyed because of this new policy.

            1. I realize everyone's mind is already made up on every issue, but perhaps we could wait and see what Prof. Coleman says about this very question.

        3. IOC rules allow trans "women" to have twice the testosterone levels of natural XX women. That's not satisfactory to anyone that wants a fair competition.

          And that's even ignoring the decades of advantage the XY has from 10-20x levels of testosterone during the initial growth of skeleton, muscles, etc. That doesn't go away just because current levels have been reduced to merely 14 times female average.

      2. Assuming you don't mean those to be sneer quotes and are actually interested in the correct verb here: Use "transitions."

        A person transitions from one gender to another. Kaitlin Jenner transitioned to female.

  4. One of my problems with the real world is how easy it is to conflate "country", "society", and "government". It's easy to say "Japan and Germany deserved to lose WW II" without noting the distinction that the people in a country were not unified in their support of the government which deserves the condemnation.

    Similarly, it is easy to say that feminists and the woke wanted to "equalize" men and women, and are now complaining they got what the wanted. You can't have it both ways: either men and women should compete in the same events, or men and women should be segregated for more equitable results.

    A good part of the problem is trying to use the blunt hammer of government to solve what are really social and personal problems.

    1. Government helped make those social and personal problems. Most sex stereotypes were legally mandated through most of our history.

      1. But now we're compensating women good and hard through their sports teams.

        We're not only promoting women's rights, we're getting a better class of woman - physically stronger, not prone to menstruation and pregnancy - indeed, they're perfect women!

        1. Like Caster Semenya? Born female with XY chromosomes? This was the example provided at the top of the OP. Governments mandate that the birth certificate select from a binary sex option even if the child was born biologically neither fully male nor female.

          Sticking one's fingers in one's ears and loudly proclaiming there are only two genders despite copious evidence to the contrary is a pretty strong signal that someone is arguing from bad faith.

          1. We know this goes beyond biological disabilities and into people *thinking* they're the other sex.

            To prove this, I challenge you to declare that people who don't have these sorts of genetic disorders *are,* in fact, the "sex assigned at birth."

  5. I'd think this was a legitimate and genuine post on the topic but then it contains the usual conspirator's conspiratorial take that there is a group of people out to get everyone and disingenuous BS like "extraordinarily aggressive public assault by academics and advocates who disdain the physical sciences and have deconstructed sex to the point where nothing remains except identity" which only seem to muddy the waters more. I'm not sure why anyone would expect to be taken in good faith when they in bad faith disparage others in the same fashion.

    1. There's definitely a loud group out there who want to deconstruct sex to the point of nothingness. E.g., Chase Strangio of the ACLU actually said that biological sex didn't exist. And that's the posture of some of the loudest trans activists.

      It's hard to know how widespread these beliefs are, because the people who express them are so loud. But it's out there.

      1. It sounds like IPLawyer's complaint is not the claim that the beliefs are out there, it's the view that the people holding these beliefs are making an "extraordinarily aggressive public assault" and that they "disdain the physical sciences"

        1. Thank you, and yes. Chase's points rise in science, not rhetoric. Those points should be debated on their scientific methods. Instead the author of this article turns them into the pointy end of a pitchfork and puts them in front of a crowd.

    2. Just because you disagree doesn't make it "bad faith."

      1. Of course not! It's the needless histrionics and purposeful misrepresentation of their opponents point that makes it bad faith!

  6. Is DNA science, or not?

    1. Is God science, or not?

      Why do we have to acknowledge a person's belief in God but not in their belief of their gender?

      You either have to accept all individuals' beliefs or reject all of them.

      You can't say, "I accept my beliefs but reject someone else's right to their belief."

      1. I can't even imagine the level of stupidity that must have been required to craft that argument.

        1. I can't even imagine the level of stupidity that must have been required to craft your response to apedad's comment, which was no stupider than the vast majority of the comment's on this site.

          1. I can't even imagine the level of stupidity that must have been required to craft your response to apedad's comment, which was no stupider than the vast majority of the comment's on this site.

            You seem to take an inordinate amount of pride in being as ignorant as he clearly is (the inaptness of his comparison should embarrass even a slow 3rd grader). Sockpuppet?

          2. which was no smarter than the vast majority of the comment's on this site.

            FTFY

      2. sport has nothing to do with "gender"

      3. Perhaps you haven't yet cottoned to the fact that "religion" is shorthand for "philosophy" or "faith" or "private beliefs" or whatever you want to call it.

        Belief in God or a flat earth harms nobody. Belief that you gender doesn't match your sex harms nobody. But acting on that belief to intrude into sports where you are not welcome does harm others. That's why mandatory prayer in public schools is forbidden. That's why mandatory gender acceptance should be forbidden.

        1. "That's why mandatory gender acceptance should be forbidden."
          Do you even fucking read your posts? Like wooooooooow

        2. " Belief in God or a flat earth harms nobody. "

          Does this blog generate stupid people unfamiliar with history, or merely attract them?

      4. apedad : Why do we have to acknowledge a person's belief in God but not in their belief of their gender?

        You don't have to acknowledge a person's belief in God.

        Unless you are a judge trying a case, in which case the answer is that legal respect for religious belief (and exercise) is in the Constitution and legal respect for gender belief is not.

      5. "You either have to accept all individuals' beliefs or reject all of them."

        I'm a Republican, I'm a Democrat, I'm a socialist, I'm a Randian Objectivist, I'm a Jew, I'm a member of the Aryan Nations...

        Do I contradict myself? Very well, as Whitman said, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes.

      6. Apedad, you perhaps unintentionally made an interest proposal.

        Suppose we accommodate transgender beliefs using precisely the same legal framework we use to accommodate religious beliefs. In fact, when a case goes to the SC the certified question could replace "religious" or "transgender" with "religious/transgender beliefs".

        When a transgender legal issue comes up, we ask ourselves, would we accept or deny this if the person said they needed it because their religion requires it.

        That would settle a number of questions quickly.

      7. "You can't say, "I accept my beliefs but reject someone else's right to their belief.""

        I do not demand you acknowledge God nor will you be punished for not doing so here.

        There are cities that WILL punish you for not humoring what somebody claims they feel like, sexually, that day.

        These aren't even close to being comparable.

  7. This is another pointless controversy, and ridiculous. It is to generate lawyer fees, in rent seeking. Only sick fuck lawyers would call a guy with XY chromosomes in every human cell of his body a woman. You scumbag lawyers should be rounded up as traitors to this country.

    1. Authoritarian nutjob.

      1. Denier of chromosome genotype. Deniers do not argue in good faith. There is only one way to address the denier.

        1. It started with the scumbag denier, Ivy indoctrinated traitor, Obama and his gang of diverse federal thugs.

  8. JK Rowling has people showing up at her home and, she says enough death threats to paper the walls.

    This seems like a long post to say that women are women.

    1. She's a bigot who uses her unusual access to the public forum to speak her mind. Lots of people are offended by her bigotry and speak their mind. Free speech at work.

      1. Right. Death threats are free speech.
        Up is down, down is up. Humpty Dumpty would be proud.

        1. This is 2021. Everyone seems to be getting death threats. Unless the death threats are credible, I don't even see why people mention them publicly unless they're trying to claim the mantle of victimhood. If they are credible, don't tell your Twitter followers, tell the cops.

          1. All death threats should be published along with the identity of the threat maker. And, if it turns out there were not really any death threats, that is worth knowing also.

      2. She's not a bigot. Lots of people are offended by her blasphemy, not her bigotry.

        Criticizing her is fine, even if misplaced. Death threats, of course, are not fine.

      3. shawn, define, for all of us, her bigotry.

        That "women are women" is bigotry now?

  9. For sport, a scientifically unambiguous approach can work.
    1) There are two categories for events: Open and Women's.
    2) Anyone can compete in an Open event
    3) Only those with XX genetics may compete in Women's events
    4) All genetically ambiguous persons compete in Open events.
    What you wear after the event, what your pronouns are, who you sleep with are all irrelevant.

    1. Seems too sane to ever be acceptable.

      I've waited for something similar for the "disabled", where the competitors all have different kinds and degrees of disabilities; how do they "equalize" such disparities? Then there's that sprinter with amputated feet and his sproingy feet replacements, who later got caught up in murder in South Africa and disappeared from the news. Perhaps a third category is necessary, "Enhanced".

      There's some kind of car race where entrants win not based on their absolute speed or time, but on how close they come to what they claimed they could do. Possibly other sports have something similar.

      Then there's the problem of sports like wrestling which have no times or distance or height or weight to measure, and competition is strictly relative to other competitors.

      1. You may have noticed that in the pan-sports for the visually impaired, all contestants must wear a mask over the eyes

        1. By your previous comments on other issues, you seem to be fairly well-read in scientific topics. Surely you are aware that there is more to biological sex than presence or absence of the Y gene. There are very profound effects in embryonic development independent of X and Y genes. The more the issue is studied, the more factors are discovered. Presence of the Y gene is just another in the long failure of sports organizations to formulate a biologically objective standard. I'm hoping Prof. Coleman addresses this issue in her posts.

        1. Thanks -- I thought it might be drag races, but I bet other measurable events have the same concept.

    2. That sounds like a reasonable approach.

      One point worth remembering is that any scheme is a blunt instrument that will be unfair to some.

      We have always had weight classes for boxing and wrestling, for obvious reasons - there isn't much mystery who would win a heavyweight vs. flyweight match. OTOH, we don't have weight classes for the shot put or height classes for basketball, so 5 foot tall people are pretty well shut out of the NBA no matter what mad skilz they have.

      You need very specific (and different) genetics to win at the highest levels of both distance running and sprints. If you don't win that genetic lottery, you aren't going to get the gold medal.

      We have separate women's and men's championships for pistol shooting, even though it's hard to imagine a sex based performance difference for that. It looks like bridge actually has women's and open classes as you propose.

      However you do it, someone is going to get a raw deal.

      1. "We have always had weight classes for boxing and wrestling, for obvious reasons"
        Absaroka,
        I am a great fan of O-sumo. Certainly in the top divisions there is no distinction by weight. One can see a 100 kg rikishi defeat a 220 kg opponent. Matches of opponents of very different sizes tend to be fan favorites.

        1. Don Nico, if you think weight doesn't matter in boxing and wrestling, try rowing. It's not that easy to figure out why a heavyweight crew should go faster than a lightweight crew of similar skill, but the heavyweights always do go faster, by quite a bit.

          1. Cycling too. It's not hard to understand. It's physics.

            1. IPLawyer—Sure, physics. But if you make an automobile lighter, it gets faster. If you make a sailboat lighter, it gets faster. If you make an airplane lighter, it gets faster.

              Also, rowing races are on the long side, 8- or 9-minutes or more. Sometimes 20 minutes. In running races of that duration, big guys seem to be disadvantaged. Not in rowing, or I guess cycling, since you say so. I suspect the cycling difference could be momentum vs. wind resistance. Maybe it is the same with racing shells. But of course a more heavily laden shell has more wetted surface, and thus more resistance from water friction and turbulence.

              Anyway, exactly what physics, and why different from those others is not obvious to me. At first I thought it might have something to do with steady advance, vs. intermittent acceleration and deceleration. But rowing a racing shell is actually very dynamic, with sharp accelerations and decelerations on every stroke. Coxswains, the guys who steer the shells, get bruises on their ass, because the acceleration at the catch is so sharp.

              I am sure your are right, physics. But how it works? I welcome any explanation from someone who actually knows.

              1. Muscle density. Sprinters are bigger, overtake the air better than smaller guys. When they go up the mountains, gravity is an even bigger constraint so a different muscle build wins... smaller guys with a more efficient muscle density for endurance.

              2. "I suspect the cycling difference could be momentum vs. wind resistance."

                There is a more direct connection to weight, but it's not completely linear.

                Think about the equal and opposite reaction.

                When you lift a weight you are pushing/pulling up on the weight and pushing down on the ground.

                When you push down on the pedal of a bicycle, where is the opposite reaction going, what else are you pushing against?

                Your body weight. A lighter cyclist can't put as much downward force into the pedals.

                Of course more weight also has costs, and at some point the marginal gain in pedaling power will be less than the costs.

              3. "But if you make an automobile lighter, it gets faster."

                That's only true in the trivial case of 'lighter but otherwise identical in performance'. Take two identical Formula 1 cars. Make one lighter by swapping out the motor with the Briggs and Stratton from your lawnmower. Which wins the race, the lightened one or the original?

                I think Sarcastro is the resident physicist, but FWIW the beefier oarsmen are going to put out more horsepower. For an 8 minute (2 mileish) foot race, the winners are going to be skinny, but they have to support their entire weight. In a boat, the boat is carrying a lot of the weight, so the tradeoff is different. Just spitballing, mind you.

                But in either case, boats or cars, you are optimizing a lot of different things for a specific case. Make it a two hour race and you might end up with skinnier rowers. For the car, adding weight and power might lower lap times, up to the point you don't have enough tire to connect that power to the ground - after that it's just excess weight. Etc, etc, etc. These are not spherical cow problems.

              4. IPLawyer—Sure, physics. But if you make an automobile lighter, it gets faster. If you make a sailboat lighter, it gets faster. If you make an airplane lighter, it gets faster.

                Physics. Added to the list of things that SL should probably refrain from opining on.

          2. Stephen,
            I never said what I think. But it would be incredible for a 100 kg rikishi to become a yokozuna

      2. I always thought basketball should limit teams to a certain total number of feet for the players. Say each team gets 32 feet of players.

        1. Now that's a twist I hadn't thought of. Interesting!

        2. Longtobefree
          December.15.2021 at 1:16 pm
          Flag Comment Mute User
          "I always thought basketball should limit teams to a certain total number of feet for the players. Say each team gets 32 feet of players."

          FWIW - in mid 1970's, 1975 as I recall, the US womens volleyball team played an adhoc type match against a mens team from the north texas area. One of the rules when the match was set up was no men over 5'9" were on the team.

      3. I once had the contrary notion that the NBA should set basket heights some set distance above that team's tallest player, or the team average or median.

    3. Wouldn't that run into problems with Title IX, in that schools offering such an arrangement provide more sports opportunities for "women" (two X chromosomes) than "men"?

      1. The Don is talking reality, not Title IX.

      2. I don't see that at all Michael.
        The Women's division is fully preserved. The formerly Men's division is Open to all. No one has fewer opportunities.

    4. Women's sports is only about 100 year old phenomenon. It is time to admit that it was a mistake. There should just be "sports" open to all comers. The transgender crazies should be forced to admit this and repeal Title IX.

    5. This is the approach I would like them to take, with the exception of #4, which I just don't know enough about to have a strong opinion (the Olympics dealt with this back in the 60's or 70's when USSR women built like linebackers and with 5 o'clock shadowns started showing up for events like shotput... professional tennis also has very explicit rules regarding non-XY and XX variants).

      It still amazes me that the "follow the science" global warming crowd keeps yelling that a dude in a dress is really a women because that is how she feels, while the bible thumping "Christian Science" crown is yelling to "follow the science" that a dude is dude and a chick is a chick.

      1. #4 is stated so that no one is denied the opportunity to compete in the sport. The Open division is completely open to all. The Women's division has restrictions.

      2. This is a strawman. The "follow the science" crowd is saying no such thing.

        Caster Semenya wasn't born fully male or female. Intersex people exist naturally. They are often assigned "female" at birth and some undergo sex assignment surgery to help them conform to public expectations. Caster has apparently refused to undergo any sort of medical intervention regarding her sexual characteristics.

        Society created an artificial (not "science-based") sex binary and we've stacked a tall house of cards on it. There is a need to re-examine the entire thing and try to craft something based in reality that preserves society's goals without unnecessarily punishing people.

        1. My understanding is Caster is XY and has internal testes that pump out testosterone. That means whatever gender one considers her, her body has, and retains the competition advantages associated with testosterone. It is true she did not chose to have undescended testes rather than descended ones. Nevertheless: testosterone does give competitive advantages in most sports and certainly does in running.

          Given the reason for the existence of women sports, whether she should be allowed to compete in the otherwise XX category is a very real questions. The question about that should be separate from whether she is socially, legally or otherwise a woman.

          I personally think if someone retains testes that pump out testosterone -- whether internal or external, the presumption should be that they are not allowed to compete in the XX (low natural testosterone) category. They can compete in the XY-male-level testosteron category.

          It may be a disappointment to them to not be able to crush the competition. But sport is, in my view, partly entertainment. It is simply uninteresting to watch a sport where due to major physical differences (here testosterone) competitors hold competitve advantages that are a huge leap beyond the rest. My understanding is the difference between Caster's testosterone isn't just on the "tail edge" of the distribution of women's testosterone-- the way a 6'11" male is. It's a huge leap outside the range for all women. Competition in the XY category would still be open to her.

          1. What if a XX athlete had more testosterone than Caster?

            1. Only 1? Seems like even that is extremely unlikely.

            2. The more important question is: Do any?

    6. It's scientifically unambiguous, but not necessarily the right answer.

      Sex differences in sport derive from testosterone, of which males typically have a lot more than females. The difference is the extra testosterone produced by the testes and taken up by the body. And in constructing the body before and during puberty (which is why sporting bodies which define maleness as having above some threshold level of current testosterone are half-witted.)

      XX genes are not an infallible, and unique, signal of the absence of lots of extra testosterone. Some (very very few) XX folk have testes. Some XY folk do not. Single X women have no testosterone advantage. Some XY men have other genetic abnormalities which prevent their bodies taking up teststerone.

      For biological purposes, sex is straightforwardly defined by reference to the gametes, or if they are lacking, the gamete factories - the gonads.

      But for spoting purposes, what you want to do is exclude those with a male testosterone advantage from the women's competion. Thus someone with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, who is biologically male - cos testes - has no extra testosterone taken up by the body and so can compete fairly with women in sport.

      Caster Semenya, however, has clearly got a body that has been significantly masculinised by testosterone during development, from which we can deduce that he has testes (or at least did during development) and that the extra testosterone has been used in creating his body. Consequently he cannot compete fairly against biological women.

      None of which is to say that Don Nico's straightforward scheme is unworkable. It's just that very occasionally there will be a XX male who does have a partly androgenised body, and so will have a large advantage over females. But very very occasionally - particularly as XX men usually have a lot of other problems.

      1. Lee, your rare distinctions can be used to clean up the bifurcation of competitive divisions.
        For example, XY without testes competes in the open division. A XXY competes in the Open Division.
        A XX with abnormally high testosterone can be assigned to the Open Division.
        All rules must be explicit with the testing protocols revealed.
        Some number far less than 0.01% may not be happy, but then 100% are never happy about anything

        1. All this does is sweep people who don't conform to the false sex binary into "male" and rename it "open." But that's disingenuous as it pretends a natural XY female stands a chance against a natural XY male in any competition that relies on physical strength.

          The goal of sex separating for most physical sports is to give women the chance to compete fairly. Telling non-trans xy women that they have to compete against the like of Arnold Schwarzenegger, regardless of their testosterone levels, in the name of "fairness" doesn't meet that goal.

          There are other sports, like barrel racing, where physical strength has nothing to do with the sport and it's just segregated for other reasons.

          1. What you call sweeping is what I call fully open competition.
            There is nothing disingenuous about it. There is still a female division for genetically unambiguous XX persons to compete as females. It seems that yu missed that completely. You have to read the entire post.

          2. "it pretends a natural XY female "
            There is no such thing genetically.
            And if there were, its being "swept" is just too bad.

            1. And if genetics were the sole factor in determining biological gender, you would have a point. But it isn't.

              1. Care to explain why genetics does not determine SEX.

              2. Maybe you are think for different species in which the sex morphs. Those are not humans.

                1. I think you should read up on the latest scholarship on the topic of sex determination in human development. You seem to be unaware of environmental factors.

                  1. I think you should give us a cite for your claim that there are environmental factors involved in sex determination.

                    In humans, not crocodiles.

                    And in sex determination not in the development of secondary sexual characteristics after sex has already been determined.

          3. "The goal of sex separating for most physical sports is to give women the chance to compete fairly. Telling non-trans xy women that they have to compete against the like of Arnold Schwarzenegger, regardless of their testosterone levels, in the name of "fairness" doesn't meet that goal."

            But it IS fair to do that to XX?

            Because that is what nonsense does.

    7. But that's the current approach, and it's not acceptable to a small group of very vocal people. They reject the acknowledgment of any distinction between an XY person who internally feels like a woman and an XX person.

      1. David,
        They can reject all they want. But they are wrong.
        Follow the science.

    8. Tournament bridge uses a system much like this, though its origin doesn't, obviously, have anything to do with strength or speed.

      Once upon a time there were four categories of events: open, men's, women's, and mixed, where the pair had to consist of one man and one woman. Some years ago men's events were eliminated. Two factors led to this.

      First, some strong partnerships consist of a man and a woman. These pairs were restricted to open and mixed events. This might not seem unfair, since same-sex pairs were similarly restricted to two categories. But the fact is that the top levels of the game are very much dominated by men, so men's events were much more challenging than women's events, and enjoyed concomitantly greater prestige. As a result many mixed pairs and excellent or aspiring female players wanted to be able to play in men's events.

      There was also a lawsuit.

  10. Vastly more important than allowing men to compete in womens sports (and visa versa) in the name of eliminating discrimination ( or what ever its called now) - is a better mental health treatment for a mental disease. It should be obvious that various forms of dismemberment are not going to cure a mental disease.

    1. You of course know about diddly squat about mental disease.

      1. Queen Amalthea
        December.15.2021 at 12:19 pm
        Flag Comment Mute User
        "You of course know about diddly squat about mental disease."

        queen is the type that would embrace josef mengelee type treatment for mental illness.

  11. Here's an idea to arouse ire on both sides.

    Many record attempts are not recognized unless the exceed the current record by some small percentage, such as 1% or 3%, on the theory that too small a difference is not realistically measurable.

    Why not turn this on its head, and throw out any sex- or gender-based record attempt which exceeds the current record by more than 1% or 3%? In the UPenn cases, the fake times are so out of touch with reality that the transgender swimmer should be barred from further participation.

    1. Good solution. Not as good as barring XYs from XXs’ sports, but good. That said, Lia Thomas and his preening in “victory” may do more to end this farce than anything else.

      1. My main puzzle with his behavior is what kind of warped mind he must have to be proud of his wins. My experience with athletes is their pride in their accomplishments, and none of them would ever brag about beating physical inferiors. I used to go on bike rides with a guy who was really into winning and going hard, and he laughed whenever I beat him to a stop light, because I was so inferior and he knew he could beat me any other time.

        How this idiot can brag and boast of being a "women's" champion is beyond my ken.

        1. People are funny. I used to run a club shooting league. There wasn't much advantage to winning ... we didn't give out trophies, you weren't going to get your name in the paper or find groupies trailing you around. 99.873% of the people just viewed it as competing with themselves - can I, this week, perform up to the limit of my abilities, and who cares what everyone else did. Every few years, though, someone would come along who would be obsessed enough to cheat. We'd have a chat with them and they would go away.

          It was baffling to me. Presumably they are cheating in the hopes of getting respect from other competitors, because who else cared, but of course you don't get much respect after getting caught cheating.

          1. Absaroka, Our archery club had the same deal. Our rule was to let each competitor score their own target. Providing official club scorers was too much of a hassle. If a $2.00 trophy was so important that you had to cheat to get it - hey, knock yourself out. We did catch people cheating. The solution was simple. We threw out their score card and offered them the chance to rerun the course with a club scorer. They all just simply left.

        2. I suspect the accomplishment he takes pride in is to get others to accept his fantasy as reality.

        3. My main puzzle with his behavior is what kind of warped mind he must have to be proud of his wins.

          All sorts of people like to claim credit for fictitious achievements - see Senator Blumenthal. There must be thousands of equally competent less loathsome Democrats in Connecticut, but he got elected and re-elected, so it seems lots of people aren't too bothered by it.

    2. I dunno. Assume the current record is 100 lbs. I can lift up to 150. Today I lift 103 and stop, next week 106, ...

      1. Yes, that's a possibility. But as far as I know, that is seldom done in, say, aircraft speed and altitude records. I think the problem is that technological records require too much effort and luck to be worth the effort.

        There was such a deed just before WW II; I don't remember the details. The Germans had a new speed record and purposely held back some technology so that if the Brits came along with a new record, they could trounce them just a week later. The Brits never did, the Germans waited too long, and the invasion of Poland put a stop to the further attempt.

        Similarly, suppose this clown wanted to do that. He'd have to be very good at controlling his speed, and if the penalty for coming in 1 second too fast were being permanently barred, he'd have to err on the side of caution. He only has so many years of peak performance; would he have time to boost his records so gradually?

        A tweak to further discourage such fraud would be set the baseline as one year previously.

    3. This makes no sense and doesn't actually fix any problem.

      First, records sometimes get beaten by 1% or even 3% in the totally normal course of events. This would exclude valid results out of some reflexive and poorly evidenced fear.

      Second, in the Lia Thomas case, no one is saying that she is going to smash Ledecky's record by a large margin. The concern is that Ledecky is clearly a generational talent and that the fact that Thomas is challenging those records is a signal that the current NCAA policy is probably not fair to cis women competing in the sport. But there's just no way she's going to beat Ledecky's 500 free time by ~8 seconds (3%) or even ~3 seconds (1%). That's not the concern at all.

    4. Out of curiosity, do we know whether the athlete in the UPenn case retained testes? Or have they been surgically removed? The articles I've read haven't said.

  12. "An individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth."

    Why do people insist on talking about sex assigned at birth as if it means anything? If a doctor holds up a little girl and says, "It's a boy," that doesn't make her transgender or really have any effect.

    Sex is generally observed by ultrasound during the fetal stages and continuously throughout the person's life. Why not just say sex?

    1. The phrase is used to delegitimatize the idea that there is an objective sex. By pretending that it's just "assigned" - as if it was an arbitrary decision by some outsider - it makes it easier to argue that it can be changed at will later.

      1. You're quite correct. The meaningful distinction except in rare cases is with respect to sex.
        As you say, it is NOT assigned at birth. It is assigned at conception.

        1. Right, it's not assigned at birth, it's merely observed and noted.

      2. "The phrase is used to delegitimatize the idea that there is an objective sex."

        But the phrase is literally the consensus of academics on how to define transgender.

        If the phrase were BS, that would suggest that academics were not truly interested in actually studying the concept of gender dysphoria and people who transition.

    2. At a minimum, there are people for whom the answer is ambiguous. Caster Semenya is a pretty good example.

      If a sonogram and physical observation at any point in someone's life finds a vagina instead of a penis, but the person has a Y chromosome and high testosterone levels, I guess you're saying they're unambiguously female?

      1. None of that has anything to do with the sex someone was assigned at birth. Caser Semina has always had conflicting characteristics, and she identifies as female. Do you think things would be different for her if someone had held her up at birth and said, "It's a boy."?

      2. For my sports schema, Caster competes in the open division

      3. If a sonogram and physical observation at any point in someone's life finds a vagina instead of a penis, but the person has a Y chromosome and high testosterone levels, I guess you're saying they're unambiguously female?

        All the phenotype features you describe are secondary sexual characteristics (the Y chromosome forms part of the genotype.) Consequently we cannot say anything about the person's unambiguous sex. Secondary sexual characteristics do sometimes differ from the primary, and if they do that may well present the possessor with all sorts of reproductive and social challenges. But they make no difference to the person's sex, which is entirely determined by the gonads.

        Biologically, sex is a reproductive category. It refers to the two, and only and exactly two, types of gametes in an anisogamous species. All you need to know to determine the sex of an a member of an anisogamous species is what type of gonads it has - does it have an egg factory or a sperm factory ? Or in some cases both.

        Everything else is secondary and subsidiary and plays no part whatsoever in sex determination (the define sense of determine, not the discovery sense.)

        This applies to all anisogamous species - there's nothing special about humans in this regard. The ones with the egg factories are female, the ones with the sperm factories are male, the ones with neither are unfortunates with no reproductive function, and the ones with both (functioning) would be hermaphrodites if we were to discover some.

        1. "All the phenotype features you describe are secondary sexual characteristics (the Y chromosome forms part of the genotype.) Consequently we cannot say anything about the person's unambiguous sex. Secondary sexual characteristics do sometimes differ from the primary, and if they do that may well present the possessor with all sorts of reproductive and social challenges. But they make no difference to the person's sex, which is entirely determined by the gonads."

          This is an interesting point of view, but completely at odds with TIP's statements that "Sex is generally observed by ultrasound during the fetal stages and continuously throughout the person's life."

          My primary point being that lots of people have definitions of sex that they think are "correct" but also they don't really match and I'm not sure why we should take any of them super seriously since mostly it's just people trying to "scientifically" confirm whatever gut instincts they bring to the situation.

          1. " completely at odds with TIP's statements"
            Not really.

          2. TIP is describing how sex is deduced by observation. I am describing how sex is defined biologically.

            If the gonads are not available for direct inspection, then TIP and his fellow observerrs go by proxies. Which would be the secondary sexual characteristics. Just like the doc at the time of delivery they make the best observation and deduction they can at the time, based on the evidence available.

            Because evolution has so arranged it, the secondary sexual characteristics usually - ie almost always - agree with the fundamental reality - the gonads. But occasionally they don't. So the proxy measurements are very accurate and reliable, but not 100% so.

            So there is a difference between what defines your sex (your gonads) and how your sex is in practice identified when the gonads are not available for inspection. (The same word - determine - can be used for both things, which is unfortunate as the two ideas are different.)

            Imagine you are looking through a small loophole in a door. You see your friend George lying on his back motionless with a knife in his neck. Around his head there is a pool of red liquid. What is the red liquid ? George's blood, obviously. It is consistent with the proxies - a knife in the neck and the fact that George loathed both ketchup and red wine. Moreover there is no smell of wine. Your identification of the red liquid is almost certainly correct - you have identified it as George's blood by very reliable proxies, even though you haven't had the chance to examine it directly.

            But when you break down the door, collect a sample of the red liquid and analyse it you discover that in fact it's horse's blood, not human.

            And that's the answer. It's horse's blood. The fact that all sorts of reliable proxies led you to assert that it was George's blood does not mean that it somehow is kinda George's blood, or a sort of halfway house between horse's blood and George's. It's just horse's blood and your proxies let you down on this occasion.

    3. Maybe people are trying to meet sex and gender in the real world rather than pretend that everyone is only just a "boy" or a "girl" based on the dusty pages in a few old religions written before the discovery of DNA?

      People can be born with sex characteristics that vary from the norm enough to place their sex in doubt. They can be visually one sex but have strong feelings that they're a different one. "Sex" and "gender" are terms that people use to represent those factors. Having "gender" mean something other than a synonym for "sex" is useful in represent the nuance that exists naturally.

      And to pick a nit: sex as something that can be observed by ultrasound is debatable. Ultrasound is grainy and only shows what is visually perceptible. It doesn't expose a persons chromosomes, for example, and might not show that a person has both a vagina and a penis.

      1. "Maybe people are trying to meet sex and gender in the real world..."

        Then they sure shouldn't by trying to pretend that the sex assigned to someone at birth has any significance, as opposed to biology!

      2. Shawn,
        You need a biology class

        1. Don Nico can see what's in your underwear, even when you have pants on. (I bet when he grew up, only boys wore pants)

      3. "dusty pages in a few old religions "
        just a bit condescending and arrogant, I'd say.

  13. I knew an Olympian who had a certain disdain for his own records and medals, saying they only showed that he was the best at that particular time and place with those particular competitors.

    He also emphasized how important it was to know the rules, how to use them to disqualify competitors, but to only do so once you lost. If you complained during the event, it not only distracted you momentarily, but it also opened up the possibly that if you eventually won, the judges might decide that the rules violation required a re-do which you might not win.

    Most sports negatively interest me. I used to find the football highlights shows interesting when they showed some spectacular catch in slow motion with ballet music, or Willy Mays' over-the-shoulder catch, but the sports themselves have never been interesting.

  14. The central problem here is that you've got two extremist positions and neither side is budging. On the one hand, you've got trans activists who honestly seem not to understand why there is a problem with male genitalia in a women's locker room. On the other hand, you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation. So long as the discussion consists of those two sides shouting at each other, all we'll have is people shouting at each other.

      1. I'll ask you the same question:

        "What "accommodation" in women's sports are you claiming that trans people are entitled to?"

        1. Simple.
          Any XX who tests negative for testoserone treatments may compete in the Women's division.
          Otherwise the person competes in the Open division

          1. What about the IOC and NCAA accommodation that trans women can compete so long as their testosterone levels are low enough, usually accomplished through drugs (but could be accomplished without drugs after sex-reassignment surgery)? And what about a broader accommodation for a recreational environment, and perhaps how to distinguish between and assign different levels to competitive and recreational environments? And what about an accommodation to use the toilet stall (no exposure of genitalia not the shower or changing room) in the bathroom that matches your gender identity? And what about using the showers and changing rooms after sex-reassignment surgery?

            And perhaps most importantly, what about equal rights in the workplace, housing, schools and places of public accommodation that many on the right oppose and decried in Bostock?

            1. Josh,
              I was not referring to any association's present rules. I was suggesting a workable set of rules.

              I was not talking about toilets or showers. All toilets and showers can have separate stalls in a single toilet of shower room. NYU Med School dorms have had both for at least 20 years.
              I was not forbidding sex-reassignment surgery; you're welcome to go for it. Adding Lee Moore's suggested testosterone limits, you still be able to compete in the Open Division. In fact, anyone can compete in the Open division.

              I don't see how anything about divisions of competitive sport has anything to do with workplace discrimination. All get the opportunity to play; all get the opportunity to work.
              That does not mean that all will be hired to be professors at Caltech if their mental abilities don't sustain an outstanding research record.

              I see your objections to being an assertion that biological sex does not exist. My suggestion to to mke such assertions irrelevant to sport.

              1. Firstly, I challenged you on issues other than sports because you responded to Krychek_2 who said

                you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation.

                I took that statement to go far beyond accommodations in sports.

                Secondly, back to sports: 1) The NCAA and IOC have workable rules that I think are a reasonable compromise, and 2) you didn't comment on my distinction between competitive and recreational sports (e.g., gym class is recreational).

                Thirdly, I acknowledge there is biological sex based on chromosomes.

                1. Josh R
                  December.15.2021 at 3:30 pm
                  Flag Comment Mute User
                  Firstly, I challenged you on issues other than sports because you responded to Krychek_2 who said

                  you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation."

                  Yes trans people are entitled to acknowledgement, fair treatment, etc.
                  However, the far broader issue is the belief that transgender surgery can cure a mental illness. Especially cure a mental illness with the de jure treatment that will prove detrimental to the patients long term health. It takes a special kind of sickness to embrace such a barbaric treatment.

                  At some point the mental health profession will come to their senses, recognize the transgender diagnosis fad was seriously dangerous fad. But unable to repair the irreversable damage they caused.

                2. The NCAA and IOC have workable rules that I think are a reasonable compromise,

                  They're not, because they're based on current testosterone levels, which are entirely irrelevant to the main male advantage in sports which is the masculinisation of the body through puberty, caused by testosterone levels during puberty. Not currently.

                  1. Could you cite some sources for this? I attempted to find some concurring studies (maybe my search terms sucked?) but couldn't find anything supporting lasting advantages to trans women after two years of testosterone reduction therapy. The peer reviewed studies I was able to find were focused on testosterone levels. One said the loss of advantage after a year on the drugs was about 5-10%--not enough to support fairness in most sports. However, another said that after two years of therapy, trans women and women had equivalent strength. Neither of these studies mentioned "masculinization" of the body as a contributing factor.

                    1. Which should tell you something about the studies.

                3. Josh,
                  I was only addressing competitive sports. For recreation that i freedom of association

                  1. Should a trans girl be with the girls or the boys in gym class?

                    1. If there's no difference in the gym program to be followed in gym class by boys ang girls - I presume you mean pre-puberty - then why would the classes be segregated anyway ?

                      FWIW though, there are studies showing significant differences in male and female athletic performance pre-puberty, though less than the much greater differences post puberty. From memory they are in the order of 10% which would be within the intra sex range - ie even with those average differences, there would still be significant overlap between male and female performance.

                      Hence if you segregate by sex, a trans girl should be with the boys. But you might prefer to segregate into "gifted" and "amazingly gifted" (I know how "gifted" inflation works.) There might be a mix of the sexes in each category. Your trans girl would go in the category suitable to her ability.

                    2. I have no opinion about that and I have no dog in that fight. I can see both sides to the argument.

                      But I also see don't why gym classes shouldn't just be co-ed?

                    3. I mean post-puberty. We had single-sex gym classes in middle and high school.

                      The question is the whether the damage done to cis girls because of the performance advantage of a trans girl in gym class takes precedence over the damage done to the trans girl by making her take the boys' gym class. I concur the former damage takes precedence when it comes to highly competitive situations such as the Olympics. But, gym class? I don't think so.

          2. Simple.
            Any XX who tests negative for testoserone treatments may compete in the Women's division.
            Otherwise the person competes in the Open division

            That's not an answer to my question.

            1. If you prefer "None." Then that is it.
              The accommodation is that all can compete in the Open Division.

    1. "On the other hand, you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation."

      What do you mean by, "entitled to accommodation"?

      We should certainly weigh trans people's interest in accommodation against other people's interests, to the extent possible without infringing on the things that others are entitled to. But "entitled" suggests that that weighing has to come out a certain way.

      1. On the other hand, you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation.

        What "accommodation" in women's sports are you claiming that trans people are entitled to?

        1. Twelve Inch, and Wuz: Since we are talking specifically about women's sports, please keep in mind that when sports teams were being racially integrated, one of the arguments against it was that blacks were physically superior to whites and it would be the end of whites doing well in professional sports. And looking back on it from sixty years out, to a certain extent that has been proven true: Blacks are indeed overrepresented in professional basketball and football. But you'd have a hard time convincing most people to go back to having "Negro Leagues" for that reason. And I suspect that fully integrating trans women into women's sports may result in some of that, although statistically the percentage of the population that's trans is far lower than the population that's black, so it probably won't exist to the same degree. Plus, one of the side effects of a trans woman taking female hormones is a loss of upper body strength anyway. So I don't see the problem in allowing trans women to play women's sports; if it actually becomes a problem, get back to me.

          I do see an issue with anatomically males being inside a women's changing area. I think that at some point society may evolve to the point at which no one cares, but we're not there yet. So even though I generally support trans rights, I'm fine with separate changing areas for them. I once spent a year working on a merchant ship, with female crew, that was designed at a time when no one anticipated that some day merchant ships would have female crew members, and the one shower was on deck and in full view of anyone walking by. The first couple of showers were uncomfortable but after that everyone got used to it and no one cared. But as I said, we're not there yet.

          Please note that my position will satisfy extremists on neither side.

          1. If people will do that, it's cool.

          2. when sports teams were being racially integrated

            That's a red herring that is utterly irrelevant to my question.

            So I don't see the problem in allowing trans women to play women's sports; if it actually becomes a problem, get back to me.

            You're kidding...right? It HAS already become a problem, in nearly every case where biological men have been allowed to compete in women's sports. Men don't have to completely take over and dominate every women's sport for this to be a problem for all of the women who are having their chances at fair competition being destroyed by this fantasy-based stupidity.

            But your display of ignorance at least serves as a weak smokescreen for the fact that you dodged the question:

            "What "accommodation" in women's sports are you claiming that trans people are entitled to?"

            1. I'm not comparing race to gender; I'm saying the argument for one sort of prejudice is the same as the argument being offered for this sort of prejudice. I assumed you'd be smart enough to understand the difference; sorry I misjudged you.

              I see a lot of right wing commentators claiming it's already become a problem; I haven't seen any hard data on it. You got any?

              1. I'm saying the argument for one sort of prejudice is the same as the argument being offered for this sort of prejudice. I assumed you'd be smart enough to understand the difference

                The problem here is not that I don't understand the difference between your argument and a comparison between race and gender. The problem is that you're not smart enough to understand the idiocy inherent in your claim that allowing women the opportunity to compete with one another without interference from opponents that they cannot hope to compete with due to biological differences is "prejudice", let alone a sort of prejudice that is even remotely akin to the racial sort that led to segregation in men's sports.

                I see a lot of right wing commentators claiming it's already become a problem

                If you didn't have your head lodged so far up your own nether regions you'd hear a lot of folks on the left (including a lot of feminists) complaining about the issue too. That same cranial-rectal impaction appears to also be making you utterly clueless with the reasons why they're complaining. Google the following names, just as a few examples:

                Laurel Hubbard
                Terry Miller
                Andraya Yearwood
                Lia Thomas
                June Eastwood
                Cece Telfer
                Rachel McKinnon

              2. And true to your cowardly dishonest nature, you're still dodging the question:

                "What "accommodation" in women's sports are you claiming that trans people are entitled to?"

                1. And true to your second grade reading comprehension, you missed that I already answered your question: My accommodation would be to let them play.

                  I'm sorry this issue has such a huge emotional impact on you that you completely lose it when I ask if you have any actual hard data. Usually when someone launches into a tirade over being asked to produce data it's a good indication they're making an emotional argument rather than a rational one. Perhaps you could see a professional to find out why.

                  With respect to your list of names, yes, people are complaining, including some on the left. People are always complaining; the question is whether their complaints are legitimate. So, just to randomly pick one of the names on your list:

                  Lia Thomas swam the 200 freestyle in 1:41.93 seconds. Her best time when swimming as a male was 1:39.31. The current women's NCAA record is held by Missy Franklin, who clocked 1:39.10 in 2015.

                  Thomas also swims the 500 free. Her best time this year is 4:34.06. Her best male time was 4:18.72. The women's NCAA record is held by Katie Ledecky, who swam 4:24.06 in 2017.

                  Finally, she swims the 1650 free. Best time this year was 15:59.71, the sixth best women's time in the US. Ledecky also holds the women's record, at 15:03.31.

                  Sorry, this does not look to me like it's an actually problem. Get back to me if and when you have some hard data.

                  1. And true to your second grade reading comprehension, you missed that I already answered your question: My accommodation would be to let them play.

                    The hypocrisy of your attack on my reading comprehension skills couldn't be more obvious. I didn't ask you what you would let them do. I asked you what you thought they were entitled to. If you think biological men are entitled to compete against women in sports designated specifically for women then say so, and explain why.

                    I'm sorry this issue has such a huge emotional impact on you

                    Usually when someone launches into a tirade

                    Your attempt to rival Sarcastr0 when it comes to dishonest bullshit like that is not as clever as you seem to think it is. And you wonder why I call you a lying sack of shit.

                    So, just to randomly pick one of the names on your list:

                    Once again, you're making my point for me.

                    1. Oh, I don't wonder at all why you call me a lying sack of shit; it's because you're projecting.

                    2. Oh, I don't wonder at all why you call me a lying sack of shit; it's because you're projecting.

                      And by "projecting" you mean directly quoting numerous examples of you being a lying sack of shit.

                      You really are a waste of oxygen.

                    3. No, projecting does not mean directly quoting; perhaps you could invest in a dictionary. Quit before you get even further behind.

                    4. I hope the loud WHOOOOOSH of the point flying over your vacant head wasn't too alarming.

                    5. That point never made it off the airstrip. The Bible tells us that the peace of God passes all understanding, and so do most of what you think are your most brilliant digs.

                  2. "Sorry, this does not look to me like it's an actually problem. Get back to me if and when you have some hard data."

                    Yeah, the fact that a man is nearly setting world records compared to Olympic champions doesn't seem like useful data at all to demonstrate that being a 'trans woman' has substantial athletic advantages over actual women.

          3. "Since we are talking specifically about women's sports, please keep in mind that when sports teams were being racially integrated, one of the arguments against it was that blacks were physically superior to whites and it would be the end of whites doing well in professional sports."

            That would be a great argument for eliminating sex distinctions in sports altogether, as we did with race distinctions. But that's not what people are arguing for.

            The trans-inclusion stance contains an inherent contradiction, that on the one hand, fundamental fairness requires women to have their own category of sports, and to allow an equal number of men and women to participate in sports, and on the other hand, that people should be allowed to self-identify into the women's category, even though they have some or all of the physical characteristics that made the woman's category necessary in the first place.

            1. Thank you for composing your third paragraph above. That is really the question, when you cut through all the noise and posturing, and anticipates the guest poster's coming third posting.

              There is no rational reason to segregate sports competition according to gender identification, in light of the justification for Title IX's very existence. Really the whole sex/gender segregation collapses if biology doesn't matter. No purpose in maintaining any such distinctions anywhere just to prop up an individual's self-esteem.

          4. "when sports teams were being racially integrated, one of the arguments against it was that blacks were physically superior to whites and it would be the end of whites doing well in professional sports"

            Citation? I've never heard of this argument.

              1. A 1997 article is not evidence of arguments made in the 1940s to 1960s.

                One no citation reference to an unknown editor from circa 1897 which is 50 years before "when sports teams were being racially integrated".

                1. The 1997 article also doesn't say the main reason for black dominance in basketball, football and other professional sports is genetic. Other reasons include hungrier and harder working-- with perhaps physiologically superior.

                  It may well be that certain body types give an edge in certain sports (e.g. track and field. It's certainly true in basketball-- tall makes a big difference no matter what your race. ) And it may well be that certain body types and proportions differ on average across racial groups. But the difference between the body "type" of young, fit, trained XY males who presented male at birth and young fit, trained XX females who presented female at birth is much larger and more noticeable than that between Africans, Europeans, Asians and so on.

                  Even if someone once claimed Blacks were inherently better at sports because of their genes, and even if that claim sounded similar the claim that men are on average bigger, stronger and faster than women and that the top edge of trained men are also bigger, stronger and faster than the top endge of trained women, the fact is men the claim is obviously true of the men/women situation. For men of different races, the difference is small enough you would need some sort of sensitive test using large sample sizes of male children raised in totally egalitarian cultural and social situations to begin test whether the claim is true for me.

          5. one of the arguments against it was that blacks were physically superior to whites and it would be the end of whites doing well in professional sports.

            I've never heard that claim ever. I don't know about all sports, but I am very familiar with baseball history, and that was absolutely not the argument people made in that context.

            1. No, it wasn't.

              We can be sure of this because, in general, there was no real argument involved at all.

              Racial discrimination in sports was mostly driven by a number of realyed factors. First, many of the owners, managers, etc. were simply racists who didn't want Black players.

              More important were economic considerations. Owners feared that fans would be disinclined to buy tickets to watch teams that included Blacks. In fact there was, IIRC, a quiet agreement among baseball owners for many years to keep the sport all white for this reason. It was no coincidence that the first baseball team to integrate was in heavily liberal Brooklyn.

              Market forces, IOW, reinforced discrimination.

              Yet another concern for some was that some of the players were racist as well, and team harmony would be seriously disrupted.

            2. In the movie 42, people claimed that blacks had an unfair advantage because they had larger heel-bones. Don't know if that's historically accurate.

        2. Well, suppose a post-hormone, post-surgery, dress wearing XY wants to compete on the women's curling team. To my limited understanding, extra testosterone doesn't make you a more competitive curler (as opposed, say, to being Canadian). So what's the harm in letting them?

          Away from athletics, ditto for the bridge team.

          1. Also not an answer to my question.

            1. What in the world is your hang-up with "the question?"

          2. What is the point of a sex-differentiated curling team or bridge team?

            1. Beats me 🙂

              That actually points to what is likely the best solution here ... let people come up with whatever rules they want. The bridge club wants to have categories for men, women, youth, and senior? Great, have at it. The local t-ball league can be co-ed or not, up to them. Boxing can do weight classes, sumo can do without. The NYC marathon can come up with their rules, the Boston marathon can do theirs. You want to play ball, find some like minded people and play.

    2. The problem being addressed here isn't "male genitalia in a women's locker room" - it's the male physiology competing with female physiology.

    3. " On the other hand, you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation."

      This is silly. Basically nobody denies that "trans people", for some definition, (People who claim to be a different sex than their genes reveal?) exist.

      1. The question is not whether someone self-identifies as trans in the same way they might self identify as Napoleon; the question is whether by objective definition non-binary individuals actually exist.

        1. Yes, there are true hermaphrodites

          1. In other animals there are true hermaphrodites, ie animals with both sexes, and both functional. In humans the term is used to describe people with a DSD consisting of a mix of gonadal tissue or an ovotestis, and who are almost always infertile - though I believe there have been cases of gamete production - though AFAIK never of both types.

            In almost all cases humans who are really intersex - ie no sexually differentiated gonads - are neither sex rather than both.

            So yes there are human intersex folk, but very very rare. Virtually all transgender folk are unambiguously male or unambiguously female as a matter of biology.

            1. Thank you Lee for being more specific

        2. objective definition

          Well, therein lies the rub. What "objective" definition do you have in mind? What measurable, quantifiable criteria can you point to? There appear to be only subjective opinions.

    4. On the other hand, you've got the true transphobes who aren't willing to even acknowledge that trans people exist or that they are entitled to accommodation

      1. "transphobes" do not as a rule phobe trans folk. They are merely sceptical as to some of their claims, or claims made on their behalf.

      2. trans people clearly exist in the sense that there are people who feel they ought to have a body on the model of the opposite sex. But there are also people who are merely troll-trans, who do not think that at all, but see advantage or amusement in faking their feelings

      3. depends what "accommodation" they want. To the extent that there are sex segregated activities or facilities, there's presumably a reason for the segregation (or several different reasons according to the activity / facility) - any accommodation needs to be consistent with the reason for the initial segregation. Wrecking women's sports by allowing biological men, who have all the testosterone-in-puberty fuelled skeletal and muscular advantages of men, to compete in women's sports is obviously an example of an inconsistency. The point of women's sports is to allow women to have a fun competitive opportunity to engage in sports, separate from the men who would otherwise crush them.

      And whether we're talking about accommodations offered voluntarily by kindly folk, or accommodations imposed by law on everyone, makes a difference.

      I'm perfectly happy to call a friendly pleasant guy - who either thinks he is a woman, or would like to be one, and in either case would prefer to be treated as one - "she." But if he's an obnoxious jerk, and/or if he angrily demands that I do so, then I'll almost certainly call him "he" - along with other epithets about his fat ass and ugly nose. That's normal accommodation - we accommodate those who we feel like accommodating.

    5. Care to estimate the number of trans activists there are advocating for extreme positions relative to the number of transphobes on the other side? Do you feel the two sides are equivalent in power?(socially? politically?)

      Do you think trans activists providing arguing for nuanced approaches designed to preserve fairness in women's sports would be more successful?

      I normally agree with your arguments. I'm surprised to see false equivalence here.

      1. "estimate the number"
        Why do you think the relative numbers are important?
        Your nuanced approaches are more than likely meant to be avenues for special pleading and favoritism.
        I like bright lines. Fairness in women's sports 1) means only XX can compete, 2) testosterone enhancement is banned jut as other performance enhancing drugs are.
        Why do you need wiggle room when the goal is fairness to all.

      2. transphobes

        Defined similarly to racists: Anyone who disagrees with me.

  15. I mean, the fact that someone experiences distress because they don't have female characteristics and because other people don't think of them as female is unfortunate, but that doesn't entitle them to have other people think of them as female.

    1. As "liberals" / "progressives" see it, if any kind of "distress" or "unfairness" or "inequity" exists, the government must swoop in and fix it, come hell or high water!

  16. According to an interview I heard the phsyical part of athletic ability is largely determined by testosterone level and changes with hormone treatments but not pronoun choice. So we could have two groups: high testosterone teams and low testosterone teams. Anybody remember jokes about East German female athletes?

    Or we could get Title IX out of sports, but I suppose that's a sacred cow.

    1. The problem is that testosterone blockers only lower the current level of testosterone. The advantages of decades of higher - ten to twenty times higher - testosterone during body growth will never go away.

      On top of that, the "reduced" level allowed for trans "women" is about 280 ng/dL. This is medically low for men (average 800 ng/dL at college ages), but still healthy. Normal women average about 20-30 ng/dL - anything much higher is considered a medical condition.

      On the other end of the spectrum, actual XX females like Caster Semenya are being punished for having "excessive" natural testosterone - anything over 140 ng/dL. You may notice this is just half of what "trans women" are allowed to have.

      1. Why is Caster afraid to compete against other humans with similar T-levels?

      2. Caster is a natural XY female. Or, if we had honest birth certificates, she would have been listed as intersex. She's neither male nor female and she's apparently refused medical intervention.

        It's interesting that a number of commenters here confuse her for trans.

        1. Caster's natural state is a XY person with undescended testes. Whether that makes her a "natural female" is debatable. In the context of this conversation, it is somewhat begging the question because it tends to try to force the frame that the XX category is for "natural females". ( If so, then presumably the rule should exclude the "unnatural females"? )

          Casters legal status-- presumably assigned at birth-- is female . In the US legal status as male/female means little more than that she would not be subject to the draft and might affect what bathroom someone can use. Otherwise, she technically has the same rights and obligations whether male or female. But I think it's a mistake to decree that one's "natural" gender is the one assigned at birth.

          I'd tend to say her "natural" gender is "ambiguous" or "trans gender". Neither male nor female.

          1. Caster's natural state is a XY person with undescended testes.

            Which, unless he also has ovaries and is therefore a hermaphrodite, makes him unambiguously male.

            But for the purposes of sporting competition, the relevant question is whether he can compete fairly against women. And he can't. Because it is obvious from his skeletal and muscular structure that his body has developed under the influence of loads of testosterone. ie the testosterone produced by his testes has been taken up by the body and used to build his physique.

            If however he had complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, his testes would still have produced the extra testosterone, but his body would not have used it in buiding his physique. In that case he would still be unambiguously male - those testes again - but it would be entirely fair for him to be allowed to compete against women. Since he would have no sex based advantage.

            So while actually male, he could compete as a female. Likewise, while actually male, he could present himself socially as a female.

            But in the actual case, while he can present himself as a female socially if he wished, it is not fair for him to compete against women in sports, or at least those sports that require power and/or strength.

        2. In other words, she is a male or if there are no reproductive organs a true intersex.
          "if we had honest birth certificates"
          Do you KNOW that Caster was examined for internal reproductive organs?
          If caster has undescended testes and no ovaries, Caster should be considered a male for the purpose of competitive sorts

        3. natural XY female

          "Science!"

    2. JFC, I remember the interview when the interviewer mentioned the lower tone of the female swimmers voices and one replied "We didn't come here to sing."

  17. If there is no intrinsic sex/gender then there is no need for gendered sports. Time to just get rid of the concept. We can just have generic sports teams once again. And no more need for Title IX either....shucks....

    1. Also...

      - Laws that involve harsher punishments for "crimes against women" relative to the same offenses committed against men.
      - Any preferences for women in employment.
      - Governmental regulations (SBA loans, etc) that favor women.
      - Judicial favoring of "mothers" in custody conflicts.

      We could probably go on all day.

      1. Yeah the list is quite long. It is always interesting to watch the Left eat itself when they get hit with these intersectional things. Popcorn time!

      2. I am fine with all of those concepts. Isn't that what "equal" before the law is all about?

  18. "science-based solutions"

    A woman is a woman and a man is a man. Science.

    Anything else is ideology.

    1. We only follow the science when either it has been rigged by leftists (a la global warming or whatever they call it these days) or fits into their agenda. Same thing works with "rule of law" (remember when we had to clamp down on Trump because of it while BLM rioters run amok in liberal cities?) And if the old term no longer works like "equality" then you just change the term and poof you get "equity". See how that works....?

      1. Fauci is the science. We'll have to ask him.

    2. The Sun rotates around the flat Earth! Anything else is heresy!

      1. The major religions have not believed the Sun revolves around the Earth.

  19. Here is a good discussion on some of the issues involved with testosterone and gender and sports, and doesn't even include transgenders.

    https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/dutee

    1. There is a lot of posing in this area. If a "woman" has T-levels more than 5-sigma out on the high side, she competes in the Open division. All XYers compete in the Open Division along with all XXYs and other very rare variants.

      1. I think you are good with "any" objective measure. It doesn't even need to be fair, just objective.

        The idea of an Open Division is a good one but there are issues even here. Would Lance Armstrong get to compete in the open section of the Tour de France ?

        1. The idea of an "open" division is just a reworking of the current anti-trans positions in various red states.

          Someone qualifies as a female (XX, no discernable male sexual characteristics) from birth and gets to compete in women's sports. Everyone else competes as male. It's the same false binary approach with just the name "male" replaced with "open." Except there is one notable new casualty: intersex persons assigned as "female" at birth are less likely to pass as female for the purpose of this scheme because it would require some form of testing.

          1. Calling it "open" instead of "men" doesn't really solve the problem, which is what objective biological standard can be used for "women." Don suggests absence of the Y gene, but that doesn't work even if we leave out transgender people and other similar issues. Again, I'm hoping for a deep dive into this issue from Prof. Coleman. But of course people's minds are already made up.

            1. AWD,
              "but that doesn't work even if we leave out transgender people and other similar issues. "
              You'd have to explain why not, except in the extremely rare case of truly intersex persons with both sets of gonads or to true hermaphrodites.

              1. Because, as I've now pointed out repeatedly, we now know that there are other environmental factors in the womb that determine the sex of the infant. There are plenty of of infants labeled female that have the y gene, it isn't as rare as you seem to be saying. That's why most sports governing bodies have rejected presence of the y gene as the standard.

                1. If these "environmental" factors are well known, can you please tell us what they are?
                  A quick check on der interwebs doesn't show anything.

          2. "just a reworking of the current anti-trans positions in various red states. "
            Complete bullshit and you know it. You just cannot stand someone who does not agree with you view of the world.

        2. I am generally good with any objective measure that is rigorously applied.
          "But I do think that anyone whose performance qualifies should be allowed to compete in the Open (formerly Men's) division

  20. If the trans woman is young enough that testosterone is not an advantage then she can play on the boys team.

    We have girls on the football team from grades 7-9 in Texas.

    Nothing is stopping trans girls from playing sports.

  21. Five regurgitated posts from a female during the final two weeks of the year? This White, male, right-wing blog seems eager to pad its percentage by year-end.

    A push for brownie points with the dean?

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