Sport is divided into male and female categories for very good reason. Men are taller, faster and stronger. They have bigger bones, longer limbs, wider hand spans, wider shoulders and a narrower pelvis than women. They have larger and denser muscles, with a higher proportion of fast twitch fibres, and larger hearts and lungs. These are the result of being born with a male body and going through male puberty.
Even from a very young age, boys perform better in tests of speed, power and strength. Each year, thousands of boys and men outperform elite females.
Female excellence, participation and safety in sport depends on sex-segregation. Female athletes at every level will lose if they have to compete with and against males.
What is the problem?
In recent years the female category has been opened up to male athletes who identify as women, on the basis of weak evidence and guidance to prioritise inclusion based on gender identity ahead of fairness and inclusion for female athletes.
National and international sport governing bodies, schools, colleges, local sport clubs and the International Olympic Committee all permit males to play in female sport. At school level, males need only declare a female gender identity to be included. For adults, policies are based on a requirement to reduce testosterone levels for 12 months.
Any male advantage carried through to the female category undermines the protections that category intends to provide, and that female athletes are losing medals and opportunities to those with such male advantage.
Dozens of studies of physical changes in males suppressing testosterone (either because of transgender identity or as part of therapeutic treatment for testosterone-related illness) show that muscle mass, strength and skeletal differences between males and females remain large. Furthermore, the small negative effect of testosterone suppression on muscle loss can be entirely mitigated by the type of moderate resistance training we would expect athletes to participate in.
World Rugby has taken this evidence on board, but other sports authorities are continuing to support male athletes playing in women’s sports.
EHRC to issue guidance on single and separate sex services
18th October 2021
Baroness Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has told ministers that the body is acting on...
Inclusion or Fairness: New Guidance for Sport in the UK
30th September 2021
Sex Matters response to the Sports Council Equality Group Guidance on Transgender Inclusion. On September 30, the Sports Council...
Truth and reconciliation
6th June 2021
How should the public sector leave the Stonewall Champions Scheme?
Time to #LeaveStonewall
29th May 2021
This is the letter we have sent to the CEOs of the 850 organisations that are members of the...
Our response to British Cycling
14th May 2021
British Cycling is the national governing body for recreational and competitive cycle sports in Great Britain. In March 2021,...
Two new scientific reviews agree that transwomen athletes retain male advantage
7th March 2021
The debate around inclusion of transgender athletes – and in particular whether biological males who identify as women should...
Martina Navratilova seeks fair rules over women’s sport
3rd February 2021
Martina Navratilova and other sportswomen have launched a campaign to amend US President Biden’s Executive Order which demands sports...
Submission to British Cycling
Our response to British Cycling’s new transgender and non-binary participation policy, which fails to protect fairness for female riders.
Submission to Rugby England
We draw on expertise from scientists, sports philosophers and female athletes in this response to the proposed new policy.
Gender Recognition Act reform – evidence submission
We answer the Women and Equalities Select Committee‘s questions and make six recommendations.