Female rowers object to US transgender policy

The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) has released a paper condemning the US policy to allow males who appropriate womanhood to compete in female competitions

Mary O’Connor MD, Anne Simpson, Carol Brown, Jan Palchikoff, Valerie McClain, and Patricia Spratlen Etem MPH released the paper, titled USRowing Destroying Fairness for Females: Sex drives Performance, saying “The policy is blatantly discriminatory to females and destroys fairness in women’s rowing.”

They have accused USRowing of compromising the integrity of their sport and believe many were left unaware of the changes.

Nothing is required of males who wish to participate as females at club level other than stating at the beginning of the season which category they will participate in.

This is a simple declaration. There is no need for any medical therapy to reduce testosterone, the hormone which drives much (but not all) of the stronger, bigger, faster male body.

Restrictions to self-identification in the USRowing policy are only applied at the collegiate and elite level. Here male rowers competing in the women’s category having to comply with the World Rowing policy which requires 12 months of continuous testosterone suppression to blood levels not greater than 5 nmol/l. This level is twice the high-end of the normal range for females.

The article lays out the fact that no one can change their sex and that it is bodies that play sport, not feelings.

Every cell has a sex and sex dominates how bodies develop. Each person is born with a sex. Sex is genetic. In scientific terms, males have small reproductive cells or gametes (sperm), and females have large gametes (eggs). The presence of large or small reproductive cells is driven by sex chromosomes, XY for males and XX for females, as well as other genes. 

Each cell in our body has a sex. While sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen are well known to strongly influence the body, it is critical to appreciate that there are sex differences completely unrelated to hormones.

Measurements of cardiovascular capacity in pre-puberty school children show that VO2 max is consistently higher in boys than girls, attributed to the ability of a boy’s heart to pump more blood with each heartbeat.

ICONS goes on to explain that aside from hormones there are sex differences in cardiovascular capacity, leaner body mass, greater muscle mass and strength as well as a larger heart and lung capacity. All of which result in greater speed, strength and aerobic fitness for males.

Sex is the single most important determinant of athletic performance. Genetic sex is the dominant factor in the development of a body’s capacity for athletic performance. The performance gap between males and females becomes most significant at puberty and is calculated to be 10-13% in rowing.

Transgender individuals cannot become the opposite sex. Individuals are born with genetics that cannot be changed. Sex is immutable. Medical therapy to suppress testosterone will impact the body but does not make a male into a female or level the athletic playing field.

Puberty blocking medications in boys will limit the growth of the penis and scrotum, decrease the growth of facial and body hair, and prevent deepening of the voice.

However, puberty blocking medications will not change the genetics of that individual or eliminate the physiologic advantages of being male which are unrelated to testosterone.

The science is brutally clear: no amount or duration of testosterone suppression can erase the advantage of being born male.

ICONS calls for US Rowing to restore fairness by providing a third or open category for males who pretend to be women to compete in. That is fair and safe for all competitors.

Binary spokeswoman Kirralie Smith said peak sporting bodies must choose to save women’s sport.

“It is mind boggling that peak organisations are pandering to trans activism at the expense of female athletes,” she said.

“There is a distinct, scientific advantage for males that is not negated by lowering testosterone. Women and girls deserve to play sport without male bodies on the field or in their changerooms.

“There is a simple solution, creating an open/mixed or fluid category for anyone who denies the science.”