Opinion | Keep women’s sports fair, do not allow trans women

At its meeting on 16 June, the International Cycling Union (UCI) tightened the rules for transgender riders in competitive sport. From now on, the testosterone level of a transgender rider should not exceed 2.5 nmol / L, the upper limit for biological women. It used to be 10 nmol / L, the lower limit for men.

The UCI justifies its decision with a document from Prof. Xavier Bigard, a sports doctor affiliated with the UCI and Val-de-Grace Medical School. Bigard argues that a choice must be made between the inclusion of transgender people and justice for women. He writes: “It may not be necessary, or even possible, to eliminate all the individual benefits that a transgender person has† Honesty may not be necessary and may not be possible. Then he writes: “However, it is crucial that all athletes who compete have a chance to succeed, although not necessarily an equal chance and in accordance with the true essence of the sport.”, Which means ‘we can not guarantee justice’.

On June 18, it was announced that FIFA would probably decide to allow trans women into women’s sports without restrictions. On June 19, the International Swimming Federation FINA decided to exclude trans women from elite sports, except those who completed a full transition before puberty. On June 20, it was announced that FIFA will evaluate its rules, given FINA’s decision, and Sebastian Coe spoke in similar terms over the weekend on behalf of World Athletics, the World Athletics Federation. The International Rugby Union had previously decided that trans women should not be allowed to compete with women because trans women in rugby too often cause serious harm to female opponents.

Great chaos in the international sports world in the discussion about trans women in competitive sports.

Fair playground

A discussion goes better if you know what you are talking about. ‘Transgender’ is not clearly defined for everyone. Until about ten years ago, we talked about transsexual people, people who changed their gender through surgery and medicine. There were very few of them in sports.

Also read: Why are we reluctant to see someone who feels like a woman as a woman?

Now it’s about transgender women, who are usually people with a 100 percent male body. Rules have been developed for these transgender women for the maximum testosterone level in the blood.

You may be wondering why there is a separate category of women in sports. The answer is that men are significantly stronger and faster than women: To give women equal terms, women’s sports are available to people with a feminine physique. Everything else is irrelevant: In sports, you are only a woman if you have XX chromosomes with the corresponding physique.

The few trans sports women out there dominate the sport

There is a lot of scientific literature on the benefits of trans women in sports, as described by Emma Hilton and Tommy Lundberg in Sports Med† From this one can easily conclude that trans women have an advantage in women’s sports because of their masculine physique.

From trans women I hear the argument: “if so, why do not trans women dominate the sport?” The answer to that is that there are few trans women in the sport, and that the fact that trans women are on average much stronger and faster does not mean that all trans women are faster and stronger than all women. Plus, the few transathletes out there dominate the sport: look at Lia Thomas, Emily Bridges, Fallon Fox, Rachel McKinnon, Lucia Roberts, Laurel Hubbard, Kate Weatherly and others who have won competitions since the transition.


NOC-NSF has so far advocated for trans women in women’s sports, but now director André Cats says in de Volkskrant that FINA is right. He also says that the guidelines should be more inclusive in leisure sports than in elite sports. I deeply disagree with him. If you introduce dishonesty in women’s sports, the bottom falls out of the sport. This also applies to the youth: you will not have to say to your daughter: “put on, you can still be number three after the two boys.”

Bigard and others argue that we must weigh inclusiveness against justice. But what spaciousness? Trans women are not barred from participating in sports. They just must not compete in the category intended for people with XX genes and a female body because they have neither those genes nor that body.

It is important that there is an open debate. Teammates of American Lia Thomas, who swims on the team at the University of Pennsylvania, were told not to criticize her participation because they had been removed from the team (and therefore lost her scholarship). I hear that there are Dutch athletes who do not dare to speak on the subject for fear of consequences. Such a thing should not be possible in 2022.

I suggest we keep women’s sports fair. I suggest that we limit participation in the “women” category to women with female musculature and physical. Women born as women.

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