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Transgenders in Competitive Sports

Pennsylvania State reported on March 20th for the first time, a Quaker won an individual national championship, Senior Lia Thomas.((Johnson, Greg. “Thomas concludes the spectacular season with national title.” Penn Today, March 20th 2022. March 23rd 2022)) Is the name familiar? It should be, Lea Thomas has been all over the news, not because she is a Quaker who won a national championship, but because Lea Thomas, a transgender, is a biological male competing against females.

In the Penn State article Greg Johnson wrote, “At the Ivy League Championships, where she was named High point Swimmer of the Meet, Thomas won the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free, and was part of the 400-relay team that won gold in a pool and school record time of 3:17.80.”1

It does not make sense to have men competing in what is supposed to be a women’s competition because of obvious physiological advantages. The stats may vary several percentage points depending on your source, but in general, women have 40% less upper body strength and 35% less lower body strength. In addition, women have smaller hearts and smaller lungs than men; consequently, they have a lower capacity to produce oxygen when competing. Women’s legs are shorter and have more estrogen and less testosterone.

Lia Thomas is not the first transgender to compete and cause a stir. Mack Beggs, a transgender wrestler won the Texas girls title, two years in a row just a few years ago. It was reported Beggs was in the process of transitioning from female to male (which is impossible) and was taking testosterone while competing against other female wrestlers. The AP in Cypress Texas reported, “It was his steroid therapy treatments while wrestling girls that stirred a fierce debate about competitive fairness and transgender rights last season. His march to a state championship was dogged by a last-minute lawsuit that tried to stop him.”2

More recently, the BBC reported Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender to compete in the Olympics. “The 43-year-old became eligible to compete at the Olympics when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2015 changed its rules allowing transgender athletes to compete as a woman if their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold. Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass.”3

What About Hormone Treatments?

Granted, athletes’ testosterone levels may be below the required thresholds to participate in certain competitions, but it is obvious those born male have an unfair advantage over those born females due to increased bone and muscle density after puberty. Furthermore, those transitioning from female to male and taking testosterone as part of the process also have chemically enhanced advantages. The British Journal of Medicine reported transwomen were still 12% quicker than their female competitors even after 2 years of hormone treatment.((Roberts TA, Smalley J, Ahrendt D
Effect of gender affirming hormones on athletic performance in transwomen and transmen: implications for sporting organisations and legislators
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2021;55:577-583.))

Finally, the International Olympic Committee in 2021 updated its guidelines concerning testosterone threshold requirements. “The IOC is therefore not in a position to issue regulations that define eligibility criteria for every sport, discipline, or event across the very different national jurisdictions and sports systems.”4 In other words, the International Olympic Committee is washing its hands of the transgender debate and will not attempt to regulate the chemistry behind trans-athletes.

Transgenders competing has become a complex issue due to the confusion in our current inclusionary culture. Indeed, those adults who have decided to adopt the sex opposite to their birth have painful and destressing emotional consequences. Suicide rates among transgenders and those in the LGBTQ community are significantly higher. “The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), which is the largest survey of transgender people in the U.S. to date, found that 81.7 percent of respondents reported ever seriously thinking about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48.3 percent had done so in the past year.”5

Can You Speakout?

Having compassion for those who struggle with their sexual identity should be a given to Christians. Yet, compassion and empathy does not mean accepting or celebrating that kind of choice. For those who see the confusion clearly within our current culture, the inclusion attempts have entered a realm of absurdity.

Alternative views should be welcome, but many athletes are silenced in our current cancel culture for fear of retribution. Those who are not transgender often bear an unrecognized burden by social and legacy media.

Lea Thomas’ teammates were threatened if they ever voiced concerns about Lia Thomas. Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a four-time Olympic medalist, sent a letter on behalf of the UPenn swim team. In the letter she shared what the girls told her, “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they openly expressed their concerns about Lia Thomas. “When media have tried to reach out to us, these journalists have been told that the coaches and athletes were prohibited from talking to them. We support Lia’s mental health, and we ask Penn and the Ivy League to support ours as well.”((Boas, Phil. “If Lia Thomas’ teammates can’t raise concerns about transgender athlets, we all lose.” Arizona Republic, 21 March 2022, 23 March 2022))

To say our culture is confused and divided on the issue of transgenders in sports is an understatement, but looming behind this fog of disorientation is a massive tsunami that threatens our freedom of speech. Once that freedom is lost, human rights will be washed away as well.

Creative Commons License
Men vs. Women and the Transgender Issue by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Johnson, Greg. “Thomas concludes spectacular season with national title.” Penn Today, March 20th 2022. March 23rd 2022 []
  2. Associated Press, “Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs wins Texas girls title again.” The Guardian, 25 February 2018. 23 March 2022 []
  3. BBC News, Laurel Hubbard: First transgender athlete to compete at Olympics.” 21 June 2021, 23 March 2022 []
  4. Spence, Katie. “The Numbers Don’t Lie in the Transgender Sports Debate.” CNSNews, 16 December 2021, 23 March 2022 []
  5. Herman, Jody. Brown, Taylor. Haas, Ann. “Suicide Thoughts and Attempts Among Transgender Adults.” Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, September 2019, []

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