Should transgender women be allowed to race in professional sports against/with CIS women?
Updated: Aug 21, 2022
I think trans women should not be allowed to race against/with CIS women in professional level sports, and I'll explain why. This is not a homophobic blog post, nor it is a hate stand against the LGBT+ community. This is my personal opinion as a retired professional athlete (swimmer) and a CIS woman. I'll start by saying this - trans women are women. Trans girls, are girls.
Life is never equal. Some people will always have some advantage over other people in talent, intellectual, access to resources, luck, connections, AND physical features. I will strongly and forever advocate that there isn't a significant difference (or unfair advantage) between women and men when it comes to their intellect, emotional capacity, skills, etc. no matter race, gender, social group, or ethnicity. Thus, there shouldn't be a separation between men and women in politics, school, the workplace, or with art. However, there is in fact a fundamental difference between the male and females' body. As a result, there is a significant fundamental difference between female/male athletic performance. I'll share some of my personal experiences. I have been racing in professional swimming (2008-2021), been a part of the Israeli National Team (2012-2018), and was a collegiate athlete (2015-2020). For the majority of my career I was training with cis-male swimmers, and not just cis-female athletes.
So why do I feel so strongly about it?
I was training with men my age, a lot.
In the weight room, the strongest woman in my team squated 250 LBS, and the weakest man in my team squated 350 LBS.
In the water, I was oftentime training against men. However, they would always swim breaststroke when I swam freestyle, or butterfly.
In the dietitian's exam, men were examined with 5%-15% body fat (15% was very high for a male swimmer), while women were typically examined with 12%-22% body fat. My "goal" for end of season body fat was 18% which is when I felt my best. Most male swimmers around me were directed to eat around 5,000 calories/day while women swimmers were directed to eat around 2,500 calories/day due largely to differences in metabolism. At national/international competitions, the entry time for women was always 3-5 seconds slower than those of men. Male swimmers were stronger, heavier, and typically taller than women swimmers. Men and women's times are not the same at the top level. We are split because we are different biologically. Because being born as a woman vs man meant you had certain qualities that we can't compensate naturally.
I would never feel comfortable racing at competitions against men, or transgender women that went through puberty as a male.
Not all male athletes are better than female athletes.
True. There are women that are stronger/taller/more flexible than men. I am(or was) faster than just about any recreational swimmer that was swimming as a hobby. Which is why I am not advocating on restricting transgender women from practicing recreational sport with women. When we are considering the best athletes in the world at the highest levels, the gap between professional male and female athletes can never be filled. Because we are not born the same. There is no harm in allowing transgender women compete in recreational sports. But not professional sports racing cis-women (in an open category instead).
When looking at international competitions, men's times are always faster than women's times. And, mid-range male swimmers were also faster than the best woman swimmer.
My response to the backlash from the transgender community.
I was listening to a lot of comments from transgender women talking about this matter and they mainly pointed out four issues. My response is outlined below. Claims:
People are so worried about transgender women taking over women's sports but so far there are so few that are participating in sports and none of them are even winning.
There are women that are naturally taller, have more testosterone than others, and are more prone to develop muscle"
Transgender women take female hormones as part of their transitions, so they should be allowed to race against cis-women.
There is no harm in letting transgender girls play, train, and race with other girls.
I think the quantity doesn't matter. Sooner or later we will have a talented athlete that is a transgender woman, and she could claim win over cis-women unfairly. Taking the example of famous transgender swimmer Lea Thomas, she was already ranked well racing against cis-men. Upon her transition when racing women, she won the NCAA. Her times as a male were fast enough to win the women's races. I do not disregard Lea's hard work, but I must acknowledge the fact that she went through puberty as a male.
I am not a doctor. My reading shows that an average adult man has 300 to 1,000 testosterone nanograms per deciliter. And, an average adult woman has 15 to 70 ng/dL of testosterone. This means that even a male with the least amount of testosterone (300) will still have more than three times the amount when comparing to a female with the most amount of testosterone (70)!
My reading shows that transgender women who are taking hormones will still have a higher level of testosterone than those of cis-women. It is never "equal" or "standart".
Absolutely. There is no harm in playful sport. My argument is to protect professional women's sports.
In conclusion, I understand that transgender women did not choose to be born in the body they were born to. I respect, and support their rights to do whatever they want. And I must recognize the body-limitation presented by gender and stand by my opinion in protection of women's sports. My solution would be allowing trans-people to race at an "open" category that isn't with cis-people.