Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympian, California governor candidate and a prominent transgender woman, has said she doesn’t believe transgender girls should compete in girls’ sports because “it just isn’t fair”.
The 1976 decathlon Olympic gold medallist, who began identifying as Caitlyn in 2015, made the comments in response to a question asked by a reporter during a morning coffee run.
“There’s legislation in various states to ban biological boys who are trans from playing girls’ sports in school – what’s your opinion on that?” the reporter asked.
“This is a question of fairness. That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair, and we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools”, replied Jenner.
After the story was published, Jenner stuck by her comments, saying “I’m clear about where I stand” in a Twitter post.
I didn’t expect to get asked this on my Saturday morning coffee run, but I’m clear about where I stand. It’s an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls’ sports in our schools.https://t.co/YODLDQ3csP— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) May 1, 2021
Despite being an advocate for LGBTQ and trans issues, Jenner has faced intense backlash from the trans community who have accused her of being a “traitor”, harming trans girls and their rights and making the comments for political gain.
Others have praised her for her comments, thanking her for her honesty, and saying that as a trans woman and an elite athlete this is an issue which “she understands better than anyone”.
“Much respect to you for saying this. If we want girls to have the opportunity to progress in sports they must remain sex segregated, or girls will lose out on team places, records and scholarships – and in contact sports such as rugby have an increased risk of serious injury,” one person wrote.
A common theme among the comments on Jenner’s twitter post was regarding whether or not trans girls competing in girls’ sports is actually unfair.
One person asked: “So we need to “protect girls sports” from other girls now? And fairness”? Don’t you know how testosterone blockers work?”
“Trans girls taking estrogen are not the same as cis boys. Trans girls supress T production, thereby reducing their musculature and core body strength. Trans girls won’t automatically win sports. They have to work for it just as any other girls do,” wrote another person.
“Girls belong in girls sports. Trans girls are girls. There is NO evidence of trans girls outperforming their cis peers. There is only evidence of them being harassed and harmed by their peers,” someone else argued.
However, the available research tells a different story.
Colin Wright, the Managing Editor of Quillette, commented with “two major reviews from this year in top sports medical journals”, noting that “one is even first-authored by a trans woman – Joanna Harper”.
Not true. Here are two major reviews from this year in top sports medicine journals. One is even first-authored by a trans woman—Joanna Harper. Conclusions highlighted for you.— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) May 2, 2021
2021 review #1: https://t.co/JTWnYohMZu
2021 review #2: https://t.co/hEj9vSgo07 pic.twitter.com/n434RInL0F
The review in Sports Medicine found that “the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed. Sports organizations should consider this evidence when reassessing current policies regarding participation of transgender women in the female category of sport.”
The review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that “Notwithstanding values for strength, lean body mass and muscle area in transwomen remain above those of cisgender women, even after 36 months of hormone therapy.”
It is powerful to see someone in Jenner’s position speaking out on this issue. We hope that as time goes on, more public figures, both inside and outside the trans community, will be emboldened to take a stand to protect women and girls in sport.
In particular, we call on the Australian Human Rights Commission, Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) to review their recent trans inclusion guidelines which disregard the rights and safety of female athletes in Australia.