Of course she does! What athlete doesn’t? And the International Olympic Committee seems to want to make this happen by changing the rules. Now, a woman who is genetically XY can compete if she has a designated low level of testosterone for at least 12 months prior to the event. VOILA! All objections overcome. Without increased testosterone, all the inherent advantages of being born genetically male cease to exist. Right?
Testosterone is the explanation for muscles getting bigger. But bigger isn’t the only factor in the performance of a muscle.
Faster muscles are so much better, if you’re lifting weights.
WTF are FASTER muscles? I hear you asking.
There are a variety of muscle fibers. XY people (men at birth) have a greater proportion of what are called “fast twitch” fibers in their muscles—these fibers are the ones that provide the power. So, XY skeletal muscles are “faster” and produce a higher maximum output in terms of strength, than women’s.
The “slow twitch” fibers, provide endurance. XX people have more of these, those muscles are more fatigue-resistant, making them dandy for long-distance running, for instance.
Anyone born with the musculature of an XY human, is going to be able to lift more weight than an XX human of the same general size regardless of the testosterone levels.
In transgendered people, the amount and type of muscle fibers are not shown to change.
The way to develop fast twitch muscle fibers is to lift weights. Whether Ms. Hubbard has testosterone or not, she has a distinct advantage in strength over her XX opponents.
But what about the transgendered athlete born XX? Meet Chris Mosier:
The International Olympic Committee adjusted its trans-inclusion policy a couple years ago in part because of the success of duathlete and triathlete Chris Mosier in men’s competitions.
Duathletes and triathletes compete in endurance races. Chris Mosier gets all the testosterone benefits, but also has the higher ratio of slow twitch fibers giving him a distinct advantage over his slow-twitch deprived XY competition.
It’s easy as supporters of the LGBTQ community to see a headline about a transgendered person wanting to compete in the Olympics and automatically shout ABSOLUTELY!!!
But the differences between men and women are far more than simple hormones or personal identification. Biology makes us different from one another in so many ways. It all needs to be taken into account. And I fear the IOC is bowing to the political climate rather than protecting the integrity of international competition, which is their job.
I fear that because I cannot imagine how they don’t know these facts. I do, and I’m not even a fan of the Olympics. But I am a fan of science. If the International Olympic Committee is going to base an eligibility decision on human biology as it impacts athletic performance, they need to consider all the factors.