Creating a third “trans” category actually provides males with two categories in which to compete while females only have one.
This year there are many legislative efforts to require males to compete in sports against other males, and females against other females. As people grapple with the image of males taking away championships, scholarships, and other opportunities away from females, I am increasingly hearing for a call for a third category, a “trans” category to accommodate those who identify as transgender.
Though on first blush this might seem like an ideal solution, it is not. This solution would give biological males two competitions in which to excel while biological females only have one. Fair Play for Women reports, “in all the major physical sports we see at least a 10% performance difference between the sexes; in some sports it is as much as 30%.”
This is due to biological differences. Male bones are bigger and stronger. Men have longer arms and legs. Men have more blood, bigger hearts, and lungs. To illustrate the differences, consider that the running times of two boys who won 1st and 2nd place while competing against biological girls. Though they won the state championship in Connecticut, their running times were not good enough for them to have even qualified for the boys track team.
In another example, Allyson Felix is the fastest female sprinter in the world, yet nearly three hundred high school boys have recorded times that beat her record.
The enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 opened up sports to girls and women by requiring that girls and women not be “denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
For the first time, girls and women were provided opportunities to participate in competitive
sports against other biological females with the same prizes and scholarships as biological
males. In addition, Title IX specifically protects sex-based facilities such as separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities.
Why was Title IX adopted?
Because it is obvious that girls and women are at a significant disadvantage when competing
against males in most sporting events.
A third category might seem like a fair solution, but it is not.
The call for a third category is based on the understanding, backed up by science and research that even if a male identifies as a girl or woman, his body is still biologically male. New research shows that this advantage is maintained even after a male has had his testosterone production suppressed and is taking estrogen.
So, if males have an unfair advantage over females, creating a third “trans” category actually provides males with two categories in which to compete while females only have one. We will have men’s sports, trans sports (which will be dominated by biological males), and female sports.
Sometimes trying to be fair isn’t, in this case a third category provides biological males with two categories in which to compete for valuable scholarships, prize money, and opportunities to biological female’s one, undermining the very goal of Title IX.
“Dear Colleague Letter” U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (June 22,
20 USC 1686, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1686.
34 CFR 106.33, https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/34/106.33. “The Department of
Justice Files Statement of Interest in Title IX Women's Equal Opportunities Case” U.S.
Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (March 24, 2020), opportunities-case
Erin Brewer is a partner with Partners for Ethical Care. Contact Dr. Brewer via firstname.lastname@example.org.