There is no simple solution in the fight for the inclusion of transgender in women’s sports | Sports

Forget Center Court, St Andrews or Wembley. The biggest battle of sports this summer is contested in the conference room and the back room, as the federation is tackling all the most annoying issues: transgender women are allowed to participate in women’s sports. Should I?

For years, most people have considered this issue too dangerous to touch. The sports equivalent uses a grenade to hand the parcel. But now they have no choice. The emergence of elite transgender women, such as weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, swimmer Lia Thomas, and cyclist Emily Bridge, has seen it. You have to make a decision. Even difficult choices.

On Sunday, Fina, a global swimming organization, created the ripples of an earthquake when it voted to keep transgender women out of the international women’s competition. In short, the claim is important because swimmers like Thomas experience male puberty in endurance, power, speed, strength, and lung size, even if testosterone is later suppressed. It was to retain the physical advantages.

Science supports it.A study by biologists Emma Hilton and Tommy Lungberg on the effects of testosterone suppression on transgender women’s muscle mass and strength “shows consistently very modest changes. [which] It is usually about 5% after 12 months of treatment. Another study by Joanna Harper, a trans woman at Loughborough University, found that “the first three years of hormone therapy are likely to maintain trans women’s strength.”

But despite science and weekend Fina’s decision, that doesn’t necessarily mean that most sports will follow. Given Sebastian Coe’s comments on Monday, the World Athletics Championships are most likely: “fairness is indisputable” and “biology is better than identity”. But then the situation is uncertain.

For example, last Friday, the cycling governing body, UCI, chose to go another way. It also acknowledges that science has shown that transwomen have an advantage. But it says that some injustice to women in sports is acceptable in exchange for being inclusive.

According to the new cycling policy, cyclists such as Bridges can only compete in the women’s category if they keep testosterone below 2.5 ml for 24 months. However, he also states that fair competition is not essential where it is important and underreported. “It may or may not be necessary to rule out all the individual benefits of transgender,” UCI wrote in its policy document. “But it’s not necessarily an equal opportunity, but in line with the true essence of the sport, but it’s most important that every competing athlete has a chance to succeed.”

Transgender women’s participation in women’s sports is a very divisive topic. Photo: Paul Marriott / Shutterstock

Not surprisingly, women’s groups are angry at thinking such an approach unscientific and unfair. The Women’s Sports Consortium, a coalition of campaign groups from seven countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, called it “just a fig leaf” and added that “there is no science to support this policy.”

The group also calls on sports federations, primarily male-dominated, to include “meaningful consultations with female athletes in the sport in question” before deciding on transgender policies. Few people disagree with it. However, when asked about a sport that recently surveyed female athletes, the majority of them wanted to adopt a policy similar to Fina to protect competition, but those athletes could be ignored. I feel that there is.

On the other hand, there is also a third potential option that sports can potentially choose from. It’s about making the sport self-aware. It is clearly the most controversial. However, according to a weekend report, Fifa, the world’s football governing body, is considering it in a proposed framework that also proposes to remove the testosterone threshold for transgender women.

Whether that happens or not, American women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe believes that the starting point should be inclusion. “Show evidence that transgender women have received scholarships for everyone, are dominant in all sports and have won all titles,” she said. “Sorry, it’s just not happening. So you have to start with inclusion, duration. You also need to understand that sports aren’t the most important thing in life, right?”

perhaps. But Rapinoe needs to be prepared to see who Thomas has been robbed of the NCAA title, or who Bridge could win in a women’s race, before it becomes decisive.

On the other hand, this problem is also occurring at the grassroots level throughout the UK. Most sports have not yet implemented a call for five sports councils to choose between transgender or safety and impartiality when it comes to women’s sports. As last year’s report revealed, this situation has not been helped by the fact that the problem remains highly toxic.

“Some of today’s female athletes have suggested that all or most of the athletes considered transgender athletes have an advantage when competing in women’s sports, but the courage to discuss this in public is Few, “the report said. “So it’s easier to be quiet and tolerate.”

By the way, Harper is doing further research on trans women, including bridges, to see how anaerobic and aerobic capacity, intensity, and cardiovascular function values ​​change over time. But the solution most sports leaders crave, the magic bullets that enable full inclusion, fairness, and security, seems more impossible than ever. You have to make a decision. Even difficult choices.

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