Here’s another example of an extremely poor reading of a concept related to testosterone and male sports advantages. Here a scientist takes the admittedly poor research by World Athletics to conclude that T is not driving most (or all) the male advantage. This is wrong because...
...the necessary comparison here, the crux of the issue, is not whether some females WITHIN the female category have advantages, but the male vs female advantage. As such, trying to find a relationship between T & performance WITHIN men or women is pointless and irrelevant to...
....the discussion. The question is whether the T difference BETWEEN men and women (and specifically, the androgenization driven by T) explains performance differences BETWEEN men and women. And it does. Aside from this, whoever makes this error should be ashamed of their lack of
...insight and application, because the failure to find an association between T & performance WITHIN men or WITHIN women is obvious. That’s because they’re homogenous groups with respect to T’s effects. Women don’t have it, men do. So it behaves like height in the NBA or VO2max elite marathon runners. Neither predicts performance within that narrow, elite group. Why? Because they all already have the attribute. It got them through door, but once “inside” there are many other factors that matter. Only a fool would dismiss the role of the attribute
Aside from this, the expert in that original article makes two more poor errors in only two sentences. First he invokes the “trans athletes aren’t winning everything” argument to suggest no advantage. So poor. Advantage is relative to self, not others. Just like a cyclist with a
...motor wouldn’t always win a bike race, or a doper doesn’t always win a marathon. Their failure doesn’t mean motors and doping don’t provide advantages. The outcome says more about the starting level of the athlete with the advantage than it does about the size of the advantage
And then the final error is the one that says “every sport requires different talents and anatomies for success”. This is perhaps the stupidest assertion of the three. Has this expert not realized that in every sport, 1000s of men outperform the best women? Would he explain this the result of thousands of men having these anatomies and talents, and not a single woman? And might one not wonder why no women have had these qualities in sufficient amounts to match say, the 995th best man? Or the 3000th best? Maybe there’s another attribute, one that is
...vastly different between men and women that causes this, such that we should have a separate category for populations with certain “talents and anatomies” to compete fairly and safely. Honestly, it’s ridiculous, this trident of arguments.

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More from @Scienceofsport

19 Feb
Of all the arguments in this controversial area, this is the one I find most difficult to address, because the person has such a different view about what creates value in sport that we may as well be discussing a totally different subject. Worth discussing the concepts briefly:
Let’s discuss one sporting example, from the Osaka vs Williams match yesterday. I watched that, knowing that both those players had opportunities that many others, perhaps with similar potential, did not have. I often watch sports like tennis, cycling, rowing etc, and wonder how
…many others, given the same opportunities, would be capable of better performances than I’m watching? That’s not to say people are given success on a platter, but it’s undeniably true that sporting success = innate ability or potential realised through training PLUS opportunity
Read 16 tweets
5 Feb
You’ll look long and hard, and still fail, to find a debunking of something as poor and weak as this one. Simply saying the opposite thing preceded by FACT (in caps) doesn’t qualify as a debunking of anything. Except maybe intelligent insight.
Very brief responses to each. The first one is sloganeering and non-scientific. For the sporting argument, it relies on a common but flawed overlap argument because of "a range of physical characteristics” in women, which is obvious, but irrelevant
“They overlap because of a wide range” is irrelevant. Comparison should be typical M vs typical F, or elite vs elite, performance-matched vs performance-matched. Not a manipulated comparison between extremely good F and relatively mediocre M, to conclude “They’re the same”!
Read 12 tweets
24 Jan
@oldeisyoung @helenopinion @Rolnikov That’s great, she’s probably on the far right of the athleticism spectrum within the female sex. But the comparison with you is absolutely irrelevant, because, and I say this factually, you’re not an elite athlete. How does she compare to the top 10% of men? Nothing sexist here.
@oldeisyoung @helenopinion @Rolnikov So the thing for your sister is that if you got your wish, the only sport she could ever do is play it socially against (and again, I’m being blunt here) mediocre males like you. The moment she stepped on a court or track, or jumped in a pool against top 10% males, she’s nowhere
@oldeisyoung @helenopinion @Rolnikov And if that still seems sexist to you, spend some time on wiki and compare world records in track and field, swimming, weight lifting, cycling. Or even high school records. NCAA winning times. Take your pic. Check how many males are far ahead of the best females in history.
Read 7 tweets
8 Dec 20
New study on transgender & performance. The paper’s title could've been “Significant endurance & strength-endurance advantages are retained for up to 2 years despite T reduction in TW: Implications for the assumptions of fairness in current policies”. Some thoughts to follow
First, remind ourselves of the principle and why the results matter. Sports policies have allowed inclusion of TW who lower T for 12 months on the assumption that this removes the male physiological advantages sufficiently to create fairness when women’s sport is “opened” up (2/)
The obvious (though amazingly unasked) question is “Is there evidence showing that this actually works? In other words, does T suppression remove the biological advantages that necessitate a separate women’s category in sport?" This is the question the study is trying to address:
Read 20 tweets
29 Nov 20
The @dailymaverick asked me to do a piece on the trans woman in sport issue. It’s necessarily short and high level, but here it is. Writing it made me realize there are some key questions everyone who wades into the debate upfront should answer. Wanted to share them here (1/_)
The first question, before any other “shots are fired”, should be:

“If there is ZERO evidence for what happens to performance and/or biology in trans women undergoing treatment, what should happen for sport? Would you allow inclusion, or would you exclude until it exists?” (2/)
This is so important because it reveals a “value system” and understanding of women’s sport. If you believe in inclusion in the absence of evidence, you’re saying that women’s sport should be OPEN to self-ID, and then evidence must be provided to prove unfairness or risk. (3/)
Read 16 tweets
24 Oct 20
This is a sound and accurate logical explanation of why this notion of “matching for performance” to sidestep male and female sports categories is flawed. There are so many problems with it, one being that it fundamentally undermined the meaning of sporting competitions. (1/)
Another way to frame or conceptualise this is to recognize that if a female and male athlete are “matched” by this “unicorn-algorithm matching strategy”, the female athlete will be relatively better in their original category than the male athlete in theirs. Fundamentally unequal
A woman would be in say the 95th percentile for metrics like strength, speed, power etc, vs a men with equal numbers who is at around the 50th to 60th percentile for men. This “competition” enables relatively mediocre males to compete “equally” against excellent, top 5% females
Read 7 tweets

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