Does a Sex Change Alter an Athlete's Abilities?





There's been news and discussions around transgender athletes competing in certain sporting events. Specifically, there are well known stories of former males winning high school and college track events, and other men who have become women, competing in female weightlifting contests.


Before weaving in the sex change aspect of this discussion, it's important to ask the question, "Why have we historically separated certain sporting contests between men and women? Why are there Olympic running, weightlifting, boxing, swimming, tennis, and basketball events that are exclusive to men, and others that are exclusive to women?


The obvious answer is that men possess different athletic abilities from women, which combine to give a male an unfair advantage when competing against a woman. We, as a society, recognize this, and that's why we have a WNBA, a Women's Tennis Association (WTA), and a variety of other organizations that are exclusively for female athletes. These are sports organizations, whose events are off limits to males, because males would have an unfair advantage if allowed to compete in them. Hopefully, there's no significant disagreement on that point.


So, the question to be answered by science is, does a sex change from male to female cause the transgender to lose the aforementioned athletic advantage, and legitimately permit the transgender eligible to compete in female sports organizations without an unfair advantage?


Let's look at this from another perspective. Success in competitive sports is driven by a combination of physical and mental prowess. There are other factors to be sure, but when the actual contest ensues, these are the primary drivers. There's no reason to believe that women and men can't achieve the same levels of mental toughness. However, there is mountains of evidence, both theoretical and actual (i.e. real live events), which clearly indicate that men would have a physical advantage in the sports in which transgenders want to compete with women.


So, the question is asked in a slightly different form. If transgenders are permitted to compete in women's sports, does a sex change alter the transgender's physical abilities enough to place the transgender's overall athletic abilities in a range that wouldn't eliminate any unfair competitive advantage against women competing in the same events?


If it's agreed that the answer can and should be be provided by science, not political opinions, then we're left with the following value oriented question.


Do we, as a society, value objective fairness over the value(s) pursued by the "transgender in women's sports" political movement?





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