Do Transgender Athletes Have an Unfair Advantage?

Most Validated

In sports reliant on explosive capacity (combat, weight lifting etc), post-HRT Trans Women retain a significant advantage over 46XX females.

HRT does not impact height, width, or limb length, has a very small impact on muscle fiber type, heart and lung size, and actually results in increased area bone mineral density. This would not mitigate advantages in explosive activities such as weight lifting, hammer throw etc.

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Less Validated

In endurance sports, Trans women may be sufficiently hindered by the process of HRT to equal but not exceed the capacity of 46XX females.

In a study in the Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities, Trans Women undergoing HRT displayed hemoglobin, hematocrit, and low-density lipoprotein that resembled 46XX female values, as well as dramatically increased body fat levels, and reduced muscle mass.

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Hormone levels, specifically differences post-male puberty, are the main cause of the morphological advantage males have over females.

There is a strong link between hormone composition & athletic performance, above all testosterone levels. Pre-puberty, males have 03-2.4 nano-moles per litre (nmol/l). After it increases to between 9.2-31.8 nmol/l. Females remain in the 0.3-2.4 nmol/l range before & after puberty

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Less Validated

Within a year of taking high levels of testosterone, Trans Men displayed significant changes to factors involved in athletic performance.

Studies show Trans Men given 30 nmol/l testosterone for a year had increases of 20% thigh muscle mass, 19.2% overall muscle mass, 15% red blood cells. A study of 23 on cross-sex hormones for a year resulted in increases of 10.4% muscle mass, 18% grip strength, 9.7% body fat loss.

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Less Validated

Even within female athletes, higher levels of testosterone provide a significant performance advantage over females with lower levels.

A study looking at over 1,000 elite female athletes in 5 sports (400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, hammer throw, pole vault) showed that those with higher levels of natural testosterone (still rarely exceeding 2 nmol/l) had a 1.8% to 4.5% advantage in most (not all) track & field events.

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Studies show that Testosterone dramatically increases athletic performance capacity in post-menopausal women.

62 Post-menopausal women given 7.2 nmol/l of testosterone (similar to that of male puberty) exhibited a 4.4% increase in muscle mass, 3% in bloody haemoglobin, and 12-26% in muscle strength compared to a placebo group. This shows the significance of high levels of testosterone.

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Less Validated

Testosterone is not the sole factor at play when assessing athletic performance.

Hormones have a significant impact on height, width, and limb length during puberty. When hormones are taken as an adult post-puberty the impacts on these things is minimal to none as once our growth plates have fused, they stop growing.

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Most Validated

Pistorius was allowed to compete when the CAS panel determined he only had a significant advantage when running in a straight line.

Considering his disadvantage at the start of a race and in bends, there was not enough evidence of a net advantage. As such, it was not possible to prove that his use of running blades as a TUE took his overall net capacity above the 100% of a two-legged athlete.

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Less Validated

The concepts of Fair Use and Therapeutic Use Exemptions are key and have already precluded athletes from competition for an unfair advantage

Double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius was initially rejected from competing in the 2008 Olympics due to an advantage over athletes competing with two natural legs. Running at the same speed Pistorius was found to expend 25% less energy than able-bodied sprinters under study.

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TUEs allow athletes with a condition that causes them a deficit in performance to take prohibited substances to equalise their performance.

It is fine if a TUE takes an athlete up to 100% of the normal performance range, if above then it is not allowed. Even 1% makes a large difference in elite sports. In the 100m sprint, 0.7% was the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the 2016 Olympic final.

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