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Supreme Court of the United States

What a Professor of Sports Physiology Has to Say About Men Competing in Women’s Sports

By Ryan Everson posted on:
January 17, 2020

Common sense tells us that males have a physical advantage over females in athletics. Some activists claim that males who receive cross-sex hormones and artificially lower their testosterone levels should be allowed to compete against females. But recent studies have proven that these methods do not negate the performance gap between sexes, and how forcing females to compete against males unfairly strips them of their right to a fair playing field.

Since 2017, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has allowed male athletes who identify as female to compete in girls’ high school sports. And the results have been devastating for female athletes. Since this policy change, males now hold 15 state track and field championship titles that were previously held by 9 females, and female track athletes have lost more than 40 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom is representing high school athletes in Connecticut like Alanna Smith and Selina Soule—to reverse this policy and restore a fair playing field so women have an equal opportunity to succeed once again.

In June, ADF filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which has launched an investigation into the matter in Connecticut. And last week, an expert declaration from Dr. Gregory A. Brown of the University of Nebraska shed some light on how policies like the CIAC’s harm female athletes.

How much of a physical advantage do male athletes have over females? Dr. Brown found that allowing males to compete against female athletes could allow “many who would not be considered top tier male performers” to replace the world’s most skilled female athletes on the podium. For example, in 2017 alone, well over 5,000 males, including some males under 18 years old, ran 400m times that were faster than the personal bests of U.S. Olympic gold medalists Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix.

Dr. Brown’s declaration showed that policies like the CIAC’s would do even greater harm to female athletes in other sports, such as jumping. A study found that for jumping competitions, including high jump, pole vault, and other events, 10-year-old boys averaged a performance difference just over 6% greater than that of 10-year-old girls. But by the end of puberty, that performance difference approached 20%. Separate studies found that the performance gap was greater than 20% for long-distance triathlons and as high as 36.8% for weightlifting.

Some people acknowledge these differences but assert that males who identify as female should be allowed to compete in female athletics if they receive androgen inhibitors and cross-sex hormones. But these methods do not reverse the distinct advantage males have over females. Dr. Brown elaborates: “[I]t is obvious that some effects of male puberty that confer advantages for athletic performance—in particular bone size and configuration—cannot be reversed once they have occurred…”

Dr. Brown goes on to demonstrate how puberty creates height and mass differences that provide a significant athletic advantage for males. And no hormone treatments can compensate for that advantage.

Dr. Brown also cited five separate studies to further prove this point. One study was even conducted by researchers who were sympathetic to transgender ideology. But despite their personal opinions, the scientific facts required researchers to recognize that the irreversible physical differences between males and females “provide a strong argument that transwomen have an intolerable advantage over [biological females].”

For the past several decades, female athletes have seen their opportunities grow steadily. The average number of collegiate Women’s sports teams has more than tripled since Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

And in that same time span, women have also been given the opportunity to compete in key sports such as basketball, softball, and tennis at the Olympics. In fact, many of America’s most famous Olympic athletes are women, such as Serena Williams, Simone Biles, and Katie Ledecky.

But Dr. Brown’s declaration shows that if female athletes are forced to compete against biological males, even these Olympians would not have a fair chance to compete. And young girls would be unable to fulfill their dreams, no matter how hard they work.

That’s why ADF is standing for female athletes like Selina Soule and Alanna Smith—because sex is real, sex makes a difference, and these brave girls deserve a fair playing field. For decades, Title IX and other changes have helped female athletes move forward. We must avoid harmful policies like the CIAC’s that move them backward.

Ryan Everson

Ryan Everson

Communication Integrity Specialist

Ryan serves as the Communication Integrity Specialist at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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