The New Gender Paradigm

Arch Enemies Shake hands: 

Stella Walsh, right; Helen Stephens left.

1936 Berlin Olympics

Supposedly Stella "cheated" because she was born with only one ovary -- that made her "Really a Man". 

...But then, Helen also "cheated" by being born too tall.

Don't Even Think About It!

Reasonable Voices

There have been some organizations that advocated a more inclusive stance on trans participation in sports.  For example:

Women’s Sports Foundation Position Paper
The Women’s Sports Foundation supports the right of all athletes, including transgender athletes, to participate in athletic competition that is fair, equitable and respectful to all.

Currently only a few school sport governing organizations have adopted policies addressing the inclusion of transgender athletes, although many more are beginning to explore the issue and to recognize the need for such policies.  Failure to develop informed and fair policies leaves school athletic programs unprepared to respond to the increased probability that a transgender student will seek to join a school team.

Sport governing organizations should provide education to their member institutions and to individual coaches, athletes, administrators and other stakeholders about transgender athletes and their right to equal sport participation.  These educational efforts should be focused on providing participants with an understanding of how transgender athletes will be accommodated in ways that protect the rights of all athletes to participation in a fair and respectful sports environment.

Sport governing bodies, including high school and collegiate athletic programs, should develop policies addressing the following elements and meet the following objectives:

 -- Set clear and reasonable criteria for determining an athlete’s eligibility to compete that are based on up-to-date expert legal and medical knowledge about the effects of gender transition on athletic performance.

 -- Be tailored to the specific sport context (level and eligibility needs), age of the athlete and age when the athlete transitions.

 -- Preserve competitive equity among all participants in sports in which competition is separate for men and women.

 -- Provide assurance that transgender students are offered sport opportunities of their choice at the level of participation best suited to their interests and abilities.

The people who oversee athletic competition at a local, national and international level are obsessed about "keeping the games honest".  Blood tests screen every contestant for doping with testosterone and other performance-enhancing hormones -- products that allow winning without work or skill (meanwhile ruining the person's health.)  ...And no men will be allowed to pretend to be women so they can win against weaker opponents.

Trans and intersexual athletes have found themselves trapped in that dragnet.   After all, the supposed experts at WPATH confirm that transsexuals are Really Men pretending to be women.   In the case of trans & intersexual athletes, sportscasters are sure they know the reason for the pretense.

Athletic Participation

Regarding trans participation in sports, America's school systems follow the IOC's lead.  Females can't compete with males.  A transsexual woman is supposedly Really a Man (transmen are Really Women).  Countless boys are trying to compete as girls, so they can win without trying.  A school's gender police must work overtime to protect female students.

For example, here's the policy of the Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA):

"The student's member school will be the first point of contact for determining the student’s eligibility to participate in CHSAA sanctioned event(s).  The student and parent(s)/guardian must notify the school in writing that the student has a consistent gender identity different than the gender of the student’s birth certificate and list the sanctioned event in which the student would like to participate.  The school may use the following criteria to determine participation.

      -- Gender identity use for school registration records

     -- Medical documentation (hormonal therapy, sexual re-assignment surgery, counseling, medical personnel, etc.)   [In accordance with WPATH Guidelines.]

      -- Gender Identity related advantages for approved participation."

                                                                                    -- CHSAA Transgender Procedure Policy


1.  The Gender Identity on the school record will always be wrong.  Colorado doesn't allow legal name changes until adulthood, nor do they allow correction of Birth Certificates.  This clause limits participation to the wrong gender only.

2.  WPATH doesn't allow teens to undergo surgery or take hormones.  Again, participation will be limited to the wrong gender only.

3.  Gender Identity (an innate sense of being female or male) has nothing to do with sports "advantages".  Hormones do.

Olympic Gender Fraud

The specter of gender fraud in athletics first emerged during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  Previously in the 1932 Olympics, Stella Walsh had broken the world record and won the Gold in the 100 m Sprint.   She expected to repeat her performance in Berlin.   There was one catch:  Helen Stephens had broken Stella's record just one year earlier -- in her first major competition.  In Berlin, the two would face each other for world domination. 

The crowds roared when Stella recaptured the world record, who began walking toward the winner's circle...   Only to be brought up short when the crowd broke out in even louder pandemonium:  Helen had beaten Stella's time.  She recaptured the world record and walked away with the Gold Medal.

Stella was furious:  "Only a male could be that fast!"   The all-male Olympics committee ordered Helen to strip in front of them.  The winner was indeed female, so she retained her medal and her place in the record book.

Committee members had happened on a great idea:  After that, every female contestant would have to have her genitals probed and inspected by the Committee before they could compete.

IRONY #1:  On 4 December 1980, Stella was killed by a stray bullet while shopping.  Autopsy showed that she was a mosaic (a type of intersexual).  The media, ignorant of all matters intersexual, proclaimed that Stella Walsh was Really A Man.  The Hall of Fame cancelled her induction; the public demanded that she be stripped of all her medals & have her name erased from the record books.  (As a compromise, the records are annotated "Stella was a man.")   Her name appears on many lists as "one of the greatest hoaxes, cheats and frauds in sport."  (See below)   

IRONY #2:  There actually was a man competing as a woman in the 1936 Olympics.  Nazi Germany needed to win the high jump.  So Adolph Hitler ordered Heinrich Ratjen to put on a dress and win the Gold as "Dora."  Alas for the Nazi's:  He came in 4th place, losing to a Hungarian woman of Jewish descent.  (The truth came out only decades later).

The fun of being a member of the International Olympics Committee significantly diminished when scientists developed in 1966 a new test that would determine who was Really a Male and who was Really a Female:  chromosomal testing.  No more fondling.

The Olympic gender police hit pay dirt that same year when the Polish sprinter Ewa Klobukowska tested positive for having a Y-Chromosome.  Headlines blazed around the world:  Fraud!  Cheat!  She was stripped of every medal she had ever won; her name was erased from the record books.  In shame, she retired to a small village.  ...Where she gave birth to a baby in 1999.  She turned out to be anotherintersexual, an XX/XY mosaic.

Meanwhile, the East German government began a program of kidnapping promising youth and placing them in special training camps -- where about 100,000 teens were given massive doses of testosterone and subjected to intensive full-time training.  The campaign paid off:  in 11 Olympic competitions, East Germany won 519 medals, including 192 gold medals.  After all, the athletes had normal genitals and no Y-Chromosome.  That was good enough for the Olympic Committee. 

In 1985, Maria Patino was caught with a Y-Chromosome and high testosterone levels.  She had Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, another intersex diagnosis.  The cells in her body were unable to respond to testosterone.  All that testosterone didn't improve her performance one iota.  But that didn't stop officials from banning her from athletics and taking away all her medals and championships

Let's see, what's the score?  The campaign to eliminate gender fraud had ruined the lives and reputations of countless outstanding contestants.  It had detected not one "Real Male" pretending to be female.  It had also failed to catch countless instances of hormonal cheating -- all of whom still retain their winnings, even though the cheating became known after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The International Olympics Committee's gender obsession had been derailed by reality.  It's simply not possible to use biology to distinguish between women and men.  The experts had been humiliated by their antiquated Victorian ideas of gender and biology.   Realists forced a halt to all gender screening in 2000.  Assessments were to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Unfortunately,  Victorian mythology still endured in the minds of too many sports fans -- who trembled at the specter of evil men pretending to be women so they could do things too shocking to describe.  "Only a male can run that fast!" was the catch word every time a record fell.  In August 2009, Caster Semenya became another victim of biologic ignorance.  She had her gold medal taken away when officials discovered that her body naturally produced more testosterone than other women.  She wasn't doping, she was born that way.

     Foul!   The gender police screamed.

Once again, the Olympics Committee scratched their heads.  Let's see:  Genital appearance couldn't reliably separate women from men.  XX & XY Chromosomes couldn't either, nor could testicles or ovaries.  Ah ha!  The sports regulators had finally found the holy grail:  A "woman" was someone with a blood testosterone less than 275 ng/dL.  A "man" was everybody else.  It didn't matter what they looked like, what their chromosomes were, the status of their gonads, what was on their birth certificate, or anything else.  (IOC Policy 5 April 2011). 

So there!  Problem solved!

Transsexuals were another component of the IOC's epic search for the "Real Woman". WPATH "experts" from all over the world gathered in Stockholm to decide which trans people could be allowed to compete.   The result was...

The 2004 Stockholm Consensus on Trans Athletes:

Individuals undergoing sex reassignment of male to female
before puberty should be regarded as girls and women (female).  This applies as well for female to male reassignment, who should be regarded as boys and men (male).

 For those who transition
AFTER puberty, the following conditions apply:
     1.  Surgical anatomical changes must be complete, including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy.

      2.  Legal recognition of the (new) assigned sex must be obtained from the appropriate authorities.

     3.  Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex must have been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sport competitions (officially, 1 year)

                         -- The International Olympics Committee


1.   The widely used WPATH treatment protocols prohibit surgery or hormonal treatment until adulthood -- de facto banning teens & young adults from athletic competition.

2.   Mandated genital surgery for transmen is prohibitively expensive ($100,000+), lengthy, high risk, and has a poor final outcome.  As a result, most transmen don't undertake the surgery -- Another way to keep trans people out of athletic competition.

3.   Requiring "legal recognition" puts trans athletes at the mercy of government policy.  Many governments (including many American states) refuse to acknowledge transitioning.  That means no sports for trans people who live in the wrong town. 

Note the change in focus:  Sports authorities are no longer concerned about measurable risks & competitive advantages due to male physiology, nor which part of biology makes a woman "Really a Woman".  What matters for trans people is having doctors and lawyers say some magic words.  Hmmm.  WPATH's gatekeepers regulate athletic participation too!

Inclusive Athletics Policy
It's possible to have a reasonable policy regarding transsexual & intersexual participation in sports, based on androgen exposure instead of personal bias:

Rule #1: To protect against injury, athletic competition should only involve people of the same relative size, weight and body development.  Grouping according to relative similarity in size and development also offers participants equal competitive opportunity.

Rule #2:  To minimize the risk of injury, non-androgen exposed individuals should never participate with androgen-exposed individuals in contact & collision sports.

The following people are in the androgen exposed category:

     --  Post-pubertal males

     --  Post-pubertal trans males

     --  Anyone using body-enhancing hormone regimens

The following people are in the non-androgen exposed category:

     --  Anyone who hasn't entered puberty, whether they're girls or boys, XX's or XY's; regardless of their genital appearance or their age.

    --  Females, before or after puberty

    --  Transsexual females, before or after puberty

    --  Transsexuals subjected to puberty denial, whether they're females or males, XX's or XY's; regardless of their genital appearance or their age.

    --  Pre-pubertal trans males

COLLISION SPORTS:  Boxing, ice hockey, football, lacrosse, rodeo, rugby

CONTACT SPORTS:  Basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, wrestling

IMPORTANT NOTE:  "Puberty" refers to actual physical attributes characteristic of puberty.  It does NOT refer to a certain age range, hormonal exposure, or any other environmental factor.  Understand that most current transsexual treatment protocols are designed to be ineffective; that is, they don't induce characteristic physical changes of real significance.  

Rule #3:  Transsexual girls are girls.  They participate in athletics as girls.  They have no special competitive advantage over other girls.

Trans boys are boys.  They participate in athletics as boys.  Their pre- or post-pubertal status depends on the absence or presence of characteristic physical attributes.

Rule #4:   Anyone undergoing puberty denial should be considered to be at increased risk for sports injuries, because of interrupted skeletal development and decreased bone calcification.

Who Should Decide?

Athletic participation impacts a wide variety of medical conditions -- especially those affecting the heart & lung (eg, asthma).  As a result, it's standard practice to require a sports physical from every participant.  The doctor reviews the history, does a physical exam, and obtains whatever testing that might be indicated.  The resulting medical report specifies which  sports the individual can and can't participate in.

Trans athletes are no different from everyone else.

Even though the valid issues in trans athletics are purely medical, the principal is the one who decides in almost all schools.  Medical input may not even be requested.

School boards need to recognize the liability involved in such policies:   Administrative people making medical decisions incur responsibility for any resulting injuries.  On the other hand, denial of a qualified participant for non-medical reasons violates the individual's civil rights.  Overruling medical input on health issues is always questionable.

          © Cassandra Branch MD  (2015)