Here's an important development - and a thread...
1) This is an important new paper in @BJSM_BMJ (Roberts et al. 2020) for all those following the debate. Others better qualified than me can run through the science @FondOfBeetles, @Scienceofsport
2) In this thread I want to look at the upshot for the debate on trans women competing in women’s sport:

What does this new information do? What arguments does it close off? What possible moves in the debate does it open up?
3) The papers’ new results (p.7) are:
•Transwomen retain an advantage in upper body strength (push-ups) over female controls for 1–2 years after starting gender affirming hormones.

•Transwomen retain an advantage in endurance (1.5 mile run) over female controls for over ..
4) 2 years after starting gender affirming hormones.

•Transwomen are currently mandated to have 1 year of testosterone suppression before being permitted to compete at the elite level. This may be too short if the aim is a level playing field.”
5) That’s to say, the current rules of World Athletics and the IOC permit transwomen to compete *when they have an unfair advantage in women’s sport*...

This is a worry.
6) You might think that this means that (1) the rules should be changed, but that is only one of three possibilities (although it’s the one I favour).
7) The second is to dig around and try to find some reason to (2) reject the empirical results as methodologically flawed. We’ve seen attempts at this with the criticism of the @WorldRugby data. But at some point, such criticism will run out of steam.
8) The third is to (3) reject the empirical results as not mattering. That’s to say, the route is just to reject the science and assert – as Rachel McKinnon asserts “Transwomen are women and it is fair for them to compete in women’s sport.”
9) On this line of argument, it doesn’t matter that TW have male physiological advantages.

The key move here is to de-couple fairness from physiology and attach it to 'expressed identity'
10) This is the quasi-religious line taken by McKinnon, by @EthicsInSPORT and others. Residual male advantage exists, but it is unimportant – it doesn’t matter. Notice that the ‘not mattering’ claim isn’t an empirical claim at all: it’s a normative claim about fairness.
11) that male advantage doesn’t matter for fair sport.

Since this is a non-empirical claim, it’s not going to be undermined by any empirical study. Trying to refute it empirically is like banging your head against a brick wall. But it is undermined by something else:
12) a normative commitment to women’s sport.

Why? If male physiological advantage does not matter for fairness in sport, then women’s sport should be abolished...
13) ... because it is built on something that doesn’t matter. Women’s sport is a waste of time, energy, and money. If the advantages that males have, should be ignored, then there is just no case for women’s sport.
14) If (on the other hand) you are committed to women’s sport, as (I take it) @WorldAthletics and @iocmedia are, then this commitment itself should be enough to confront the ‘not mattering’ claim.
15) So Route (3) is closed off. Route (2) will play itself out, crudely on twitter, and more professionally in the journals, eventually exhausting itself.
16) That leaves Route (1). The IOC built its regulations on a study by Joanna Harper that is comprehensively refuted by this new study. No-one should quote Harper (2015) without also quoting Roberts (2020). The science has improved. (paper here)...…
17) Either @iocmedia and @WorldAthletics will change their rules, in response to the science, or they can embrace a quasi-religious ideology. It’s decision time in Lausanne.

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More from @runthinkwrite

6 Dec
@EthicsInSPORT p.20 "Nonetheless it is recognized that *transfemales are not males who became females.* Rather these are people who have always been psychologically female but whose anatomy and physiology, for reasons as yet unexplained, have manifested as male...
The EWG therefore, in parallel with the Dutee Chand decision, opt against any ruling that might render a female ineligible to compete due to intrinsic factors that are beyond their control"
So 1) This is 'born in the wrong body' nonsense
2) This is (crap) Cartesian nonsense
3) This is antiscientific ('for reasons as yet unexplained')
4) psychology trumps physiology, so physiological fairness is trashed.
5) This is TW are *female* - which is, er, a *striking* claim.
Read 4 tweets
4 Sep
1/ Thread: there is a lot to say about this irresponsible statement, but I have an appointment with the Col du Peyresourde tomorrow. So I'll just point out one element
2/ Rugby Canada's submission says they included "documented *lived experiences* of Canadian rugby trans participants"

My question: what *status* do these "lived experiences" have in trying to sort out an ethical policy? How should it feed into the policy process?
3/ Trans women players will presumably have said the following things:
A 'I get a great deal out of playing rugby, and it is important to my sense of well-being.' This is fair enough, and uncontested. Everyone accepts this.
Read 8 tweets
20 Aug
It is still a shock to people like me - who fought Section 28 when it was Clause 27 - to find ourselves pitched against this mendacious propaganda from
Here are a few areas where this tweet is wrong (thread)
First, and most obviously, the proposals from World Rugby *do not* exclude anyone from playing Rugby. They *do* exclude Trans women from playing women's rugby: they do so for sound reasons to do with fairness and safety.
either @stonewalluk care about safety and fairness or they don't, either they will engage with the arguments there or they won't - that's up to them. But pretending that this is just about 'rights' and 'inclusion' in this faux-naive way just shows them up as bad faith actors.
Read 9 tweets
3 Aug
1/ In the tweet below, and the attachment, @outsports names and identifies - including giving locations - 300+ women athletes who have written to the @NCAA to voice their concern about the inclusion of trans women in women's sport.
2/ Obviously, the intent is to provide information so these women can be hassled, pressurised, and intimidated into changing their views, or withdrawing their names. But it is reasonable for competitive women athletes to object to their sports being opened up to people with
3/ male physiological advantages - they will, unreasonably, be edged out of teams, off podiums, denied medals, and opportunities.
The tactic is despicable. But it shows up something else: those of us who are *not* competitive women athletes have an obligation to argue this...
Read 5 tweets
22 Oct 19
1) I’ve been trying to work out the philosophical position on trans inclusion in sport of Rachel Mckinnon and I think I have made some progress. Here’s a thread:
2) It’s important to notice that RMs position in favour of trans-inclusion is not, in the end, an empirical or contingent matter. Despite spending some time on empirical data, RM’s position is not constrained by scientific data. It's an in principle position.
3) But it’s important to notice that RM is not against separate classes for men and women. There is a (fairly) respectable position in sport ethics, supported by Tännsjö, Foddy and Savulescu, for assimilation of sex classes. This is not RMs position.
Read 19 tweets

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