Added: Malisha Sluder - Date: 20.09.2021 10:43 - Views: 33018 - Clicks: 932
Editor's note: This is the part of a series highlighting the Olympic Games with a specific emphasis on health and wellness. July 15, -- The participation of transgender women in female sports will garner even more attention when the New Zealand weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, becomes the first openly trans athlete to participate in the Olympic games. This interview focuses on transgender athletes — primarily those ased male at birth who hormonally transition to female.
It does not address athletes, such as Caster Semenya, who have disorders of sexual development. Most guidelines on the participation of transgender women in sports use testosterone levels in the prior 12 months with cutoffs of 5 nanomoles per liter or 10 nanomoles per liter.
Is that correct? Harper: Inthe IOC adopted a guideline where trans women could compete after 1 year of having testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per liter. World athletics subsequently put in a rule that required 5 nanomoles per liter. But it's important to note that there are different tests used for those two A long tall women and a short girl.
The IOC rule is based on immunoassay testing, and world athletics was based on liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, or LCMS, for short. Basically, the 10 nanomoles on an immunoassay is equivalent to approximately 7. The idea that world athletics has half the testosterone limit is absolutely not true, because you're talking about different testing methodologies.
The NCAA does not actually have a testosterone limit; they require one year of hormone therapybut there's no testosterone limit with that. And there's little to no testosterone testing done by the NCAA. Testosterone levels drop quickly after hormone treatment. Is it true that the testosterone levels of trans women are similar to cis female levels? Harper: Absolutely. It doesn't really matter whether the limit is 5 or 10 nanomoles per liter because most trans women are going to be under 2 anyway.
Hemoglobin levels are higher in men, which allows more oxygen to get into the A long tall women and a short girl. Is the main advantage of that greater endurance because muscles don't fatigue as quickly? Harper: Yes, the single most important physiological factor for endurance athletes is hemoglobin. Hematocrit is the percentage of blood that's red blood cells. That's the reason that endurance athletes go to altitude to train, or [those who cheat] use blood doping or EPO. There are a lot of things that go into making an endurance athlete, but the single most important factor would be hemoglobin levels.
Harper: Hemoglobin levels follow the testosterone. Within weeks of starting testosterone suppression, testosterone levels will be within female norms, but it takes a little longer for hemoglobin to get the female normsprobably in the 3- to 4-month range. That's roughly the life cycle of red blood cells. As trans women replace their red blood cells, with their new lower testosterone levels, they will have fewer red blood cells and lower hemoglobin, but it does take 3 to 4 months. What distances are we typically talking about where endurance is an advantage -- is it an meter track event, or is it more in the 1, meters and above range?
Harper: The meters is likely more speed than endurance. There are any of endurance type sports. How are other potential advantages such as lean body mass and strength affected by medical transition?
Harper: Lean body mass and strength are less affected than hemoglobin, but we don't really have studies on trans athletes. Our review and another one looked at studies on non-athletes. One of the important things to note is that even before starting hormone therapythe trans women in these studies were substantially less strong than cis men.
I put it colloquially that as a population group, trans women would rather starve themselves to look like models, than put on muscle to be athletes. But that's the population these studies looked at -- they weren't looking at trans women who are active in sports. We found that the trans women didn't lose very much strength or lean body mass. But they probably didn't build up very much before they started hormone therapy.
How applicable that finding is to trans athletes is somewhat debatable. There's absolutely no question in my mind that trans women will maintain strength advantages over cis women, even after hormone therapy. That's based on my clinical experience, rather than published data, but I would say there's zero doubt in my mind.
Your review found that lean body mass and muscle strength decline but remain above cis female levels up to 3 years after hormone transition. Do you think that represents a plateau or that there will be further declines over time? Harper: It is probably true that the greatest changes in the strength of trans women on hormone therapy occur in the first 12 months, but there aren't enough data to make a definitive statement.
It is possible that there are further declines in strength after 36 months, and a recent small study out of Brazil suggests that the entire strength advantage might A long tall women and a short girl away. But they just looked at grip strength in eight trans women, compared with eight cis women matched for BMI, so I think the matter is far from settled.
A recent paper quantified the male advantage across various sports using data from cis men and women. Do you think these comparisons are valid? Harper: I don't dispute their data on cis people at all. I think that they did a good job compiling that. Given the range, would you assume that there might be different advantages for trans women in different sports? I've been saying since that we should be looking sport-by-sport on regulations for trans athletes. The strength differences between cis men and women are higher for upper body strength than lower body, so can we assume that trans women will have more of an advantage in sports that require more upper body strength?
In sports, like basketball and volleyball, that advantage isn't going to be mitigated; the strength advantage will be mitigated, but that the height advantage isn't going to go away at all. Presumably, there is no advantage if a trans girl never went through male puberty? Harper: I suspect that trans girls would still, on average, be taller. I don't know that for certain. There may be very minimal advantages. When the IOC first put rules in place inthey said these rules only apply to trans women who experience male puberty.
So, the IOC has long said that any advantages that trans women who don't go through male puberty are small enough that they're not going to worry about it. Most sporting organizations would say the same thing. Not everyone would agree, but most sporting bodies agree on that.
And we allow advantages for one group over another. For instance, in baseball, the configuration of the diamond lends many advantages to left-handed players over right-handed players. And yet, that's an advantage we allow. And here's the important difference. We can have meaningful competition between left-handed baseball players, and right-handed baseball players, despite the advantages.
But there's no meaningful competition between big boxers and little boxers; the big boxer wins every time. There's no indication that trans women are anywhere close to taking over women's sport, it's not happening now. It's not likely to happen anytime in the future. Boxing brings up contact and collision sports. Harper: I absolutely agree that there's a safety issue because on average, trans women are taller and bigger than cis women. If you're looking at collision metrics, the two important factors are size and speed. The data I gathered from 20 distance runners and sprinters suggests that trans women aren't faster than cis women.
A study from the U. Air Force does suggest that trans women are faster, but [it] didn't measure training in any way. They are still going to be bigger than cis women. Now, of course, what you really want to know is how big are the trans women playing rugby versus the cis women playing rugby? We don't have any data on that.
But as a population group, trans women are bigger than cis women, so there's definitely some reason for concern A long tall women and a short girl a potential safety issue.
But you would prefer inclusion, and you think that the safety issue could be navigated? Harper: I don't think that banning trans women is the right approach. But, as I said earlier, if you look at the studies of non-athletic trans women, trans women don't have typical male body mass. Trans women are no more than halfway between female mass and male mass and maybe even closer to typical female mass.
The question is: How big are the women playing rugby? We don't know that. We've applied for a grant from World Rugby to study that question. Hopefully, they'll cough up some money because that's the important question. By the way, World Rugby only looks at international-level rugby, and no openly trans woman has ever played an international rugby match. So, the total risk increase from trans women in international rugby is zero so far because there are no trans women.
That may change -- there's a trans woman in France who might someday make the national team -- but that's a very small. I suggested to World Rugby that they put a limit on each national team of one trans woman per team. In a given match, you're looking at a very small increase in risk. That was my suggestion to World Rugby, but they didn't take it. No trans women are currently banned from rugby, because as it stands right now in the international game, there are none good enough.
We'll see what develops in the future. Trans women have larger frames, which are now being powered by reduced muscle mass and reduced aerobic capacity, and that can lead to disadvantages in things like quickness, recovery endurance, and things that might not be quite as obvious as seeing somebody bigger. How do these disadvantages play out? But the idea that trans women only have advantages just isn't true. The analogy I've used is that it's like a big car with a small engine competing against a small car with a small engine.A long tall women and a short girl
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Do Trans Women Athletes Have Advantages?