An 8th Grade Girl Explains Why Male Athletes Should Not Be Allowed in Women’s Sports
Transwomen should play in separate leagues so that everyone can compete while ensuring safe and fair competition for women and girls.
Last week, the World Athletics Council made headlines announcing a shift in policy regarding transgender athletes, voting to exclude trans-identifying male athletes who have undergone male puberty from female World Rankings competition. This decision represents a dramatic departure from the organization’s prior stance, which had centered exclusively on testosterone levels.
In a statement released to the press, World Athletics emphasized that its new approach was informed by over a decade of research and empirical evidence demonstrating the physical advantages conferred by male puberty. Such advantages range from enhanced upper-body strength and bone density to increased lung capacity, muscle mass, hand size, and height. Testosterone suppression, according to the organization’s analysis, cannot fully counteract these benefits.
World Athletics contends that their stricter protocols are designed to uphold the integrity of female competition and promote fairness across the board.
In light of this news, I am excited to publish the essay below, which was written by Kathryn Taylor, a 14-year-old girl and eighth-grade student at a large public school. She was tasked with writing an argumentative essay for her English class and chose to bravely tackle the controversial topic of whether trans-identified males should be permitted to compete in women’s sports and have access to female-only spaces.
After the essay, there is a brief Q&A session with Kathryn, in which she explains why she decided to write about this topic for her school assignment.
Kathryn Taylor is a pseudonym to protect her identity.
P.S., she got an A+ on her essay!
Imagine training for years to be on the college swim team just to lose to a man claiming he’s a woman. For many girls around the U.S., they don’t have to imagine, because this is their reality.
It is my strong belief that males who identify as women should not be allowed to compete with female athletes because it is unfair to their teammates and opponents. Transwomen should have the opportunity to compete in separate leagues so that everyone can compete while ensuring safe and fair competition for women and girls.
My belief is rooted in the undeniable fact that male athletes have an unfair advantage over females. If a female had been training at swim her whole life and a transwoman swimmer comes along and beats her at every event, that wouldn’t be an equal and fair race, considering that swimmer is biologically male and enjoys the performance benefits of male puberty.
In a review article by Emma N. Hilton and Tommy R. Lundberg titled “Transgender Women in the Female Category of Sport: Perspectives on Testosterone Suppression and Performance Advantage,” they found that:
Males have: larger and denser muscle mass, and stiffer connective tissue, with associated capacity to exert greater muscular force more rapidly and efficiently; reduced fat mass, and different distribution of body fat and lean muscle mass, which increases power to weight ratios and upper to lower limb strength in sports where this may be a crucial determinant of success; longer and larger skeletal structure, which creates advantages in sports where levers influence force application, where longer limb/digit length is favorable, and where height, mass and proportions are directly responsible for performance capacity; superior cardiovascular and respiratory function, with larger blood and heart volumes, higher hemoglobin concentration, greater cross-sectional area of the trachea and lower oxygen cost of respiration.
This evidence shows that biological males have many physical differences that give them advantages over biological females in sports and athletic activities.
The second reason transwomen should not be allowed to compete in female sports is that, even after suppressing testosterone for up to three years, a male’s biological advantage remains at an unfair level. In the article quoted above, the authors list further evidence demonstrating this fact. They state:
The data presented here demonstrate that superior anthropometric, muscle mass and strength parameters achieved by males at puberty, and underpinning a considerable portion of the male performance advantage over females, are not removed by the current regimen of testosterone suppression permitting participation of transgender women in female sports categories. Rather, it appears that the male performance advantage remains substantial.
These finding were reproduced in another review article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine titled “How does hormone transition in transgender women change body composition, muscle strength and haemoglobin?” by Joanna Harper (a transwoman), Emma O'Donnell, Behzad Sorouri Khorashad, Hilary McDermott, and Gemma L .Witcomb. In their review, the authors state, “Hormone therapy decreases strength, lean body mass and muscle area, yet values remain above that observed in cisgender women, even after 36 months.”
Beyond sports, I believe that transwomen also should not be allowed access to female-only locker rooms and bathrooms because it is a violation of women’s privacy. Some say that the trans community needs to feel safe and included, but letting males who identify as women in female-only intimate spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms places the comfort of a few males over the comfort and privacy of all women and girls.
The fact is that many women and girls do not feel comfortable sharing intimate spaces with males, yet most are afraid to speak up. An article by Kelsey Boar in the Daily Signal interviewed teen girls to see how they truly felt about sharing a locker room with males who identify as girls. Bolar describes a situation that occurred in Cook County, Illinois, where the school board made a policy to allow a trans student to use the girl’s locker room and change behind privacy curtains. “Those curtains, the six girls said, shield Student A from personal insecurities, but they leave the rest of them uncomfortably exposed.” One of the girls said, “What bothers me is the fact that this student is still anatomically a male. If the student had already undergone surgical procedures, this would be another story entirely, but as it stands I just don’t feel comfortable with it.”
Stories like this show that girls who are forced to share their locker rooms with males still feel exposed and uncomfortable even when certain steps are taken to increase privacy. Girls need to feel comfortable and safe when changing clothes. For many girls, undressing around their female peers can be distressing enough, and so adding males to the room is even more traumatic.
An article in the Toronto Sun that interviewed several anonymous teammates of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas found that many were uncomfortable sharing a locker room with Thomas. One teammate said:
It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women…But we were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia by not having her in the locker room and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room.
The swimmer revealed that the school didn’t care about how the women on the team felt about having Thomas in their changing room. It should come as no surprise that women and girls would feel uncomfortable sharing intimate spaces with males, especially when these males, like Thomas, are fully intact and attracted to women. But women and girls in these situations are rarely able to share their feelings and opinions without being called transphobic, which leads many to remain silent. And when they do find the courage to speak up, few seem to care and no changes are made to improve their level of safety and comfort.
Some people argue that transwomen should be allowed in women’s sports and spaces to help them feel included and welcomed. They believe that preventing trans people from accessing these spaces and activities will interfere with their mental health. But here again we see concerns for the mental well-being of a few males placed above the mental and physical well-being of all women. There is a word for this—sexism.
In the article “Faster, Higher, Stronger: The biological and ethical challenges to including transgender athletes in women’s sports” by Jon Pike, Emma Hilton, and Leslie A. Howe, they argue that:
A classification system is needed to ensure everyone can compete fairly and fully. Such a system would consist of age categories, sex categories, impairment categories, and sometimes weight categories, all of which would refer to properties of bodies, not properties of identification. Gender identity, on its own, is irrelevant to sport categorization.
The evidence and scientific research clearly shows why male athletes who identify as women should not be permitted to compete against females in sports. With males competing against women, the enjoyment and motivation of our favorite sports will be ruined with unfairness. Women have fought hard for their rights to be able to play in competitive sports. We need to stand up and speak out for equal and fair competition so that women can continue playing the sports they love without men taking our trophies. Women should be able to change in privacy and comfort without males present.
I hope my generation will continue to speak up about this issue without fear so women and girls will have the right to fair sports now and forever.
Q&A with Kathryn:
Why did you choose this topic for your argumentative essay?
Because I felt like it was a good topic to argue about and it’s a very popular topic right now.
Does this topic impact you in any way?
Yeah, because I’m an athlete and I think if I was in that situation, I would not think that’s fair, and I’d be upset about it. I’m a swimmer, so I also feel connected to the Lia Thomas situation and that is really unfair and that should definitely not be allowed to happen.
What are some of the topics other students chose?
If the U.S. should help in the Afghanistan war, lowering drinking age, dress code.
Were you worried you’d get in trouble by writing about this topic?
A little bit, because it’s a controversial issue and it’s difficult to talk about at school. I’m at a public school and there are trans kids in my school.
What was the hardest part about finding research for this essay?
Google would only present me with material from the other side of the argument. I had to get some help and do a deep dive to get the evidence I needed to support my argument.
What did you learn in writing this essay?
That the biological differences between men and women are much bigger than I realized.
What would you tell people who are concerned about this issue?
Don’t be afraid to say what you think is the truth. It’s important for us to have a voice since nowadays everything is leaning toward inclusivity, even though the evidence proves that it’s not fair. If we try to say otherwise, we get called transphobic and could get canceled. We all need to come together to speak up and show them that our voices matter too.