New U SPORTS policy puts female athletes at a disadvantage

Lack of understanding about gender differences leads to underdeveloped policy

What happens when you allow men to join women’s sports teams? Nothing, apparently.

At least that is what U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sports in Canada, is arguing.

On September 27th, the organization released a press statement that approved a new policy for transgender student-athletes.

According to the release, “U SPORTS student-athletes will be eligible to compete on the team that corresponds with either their sex assigned at birth or their gender identity, provided that the student-athlete complies with the Canadian Anti-Doping Program.”

The new policy—that includes Ryerson and 55 other U SPORTS-affiliated institutions— “does not require student-athletes to undertake hormone therapy in order for them to complete in the gender category that is consistent with their gender identity.”

This is the first time a policy of this nature has not mandated the use of hormone-therapy for student-athletes competing as the opposite gender than the one they were assigned at birth.

When it comes to sports, there are three physical traits that separate men and women: mean weight, mean height, and mean percent of weight that is muscle mass.

According to a 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey, men on average weigh 31 pounds more than women, with a mean height of 5’7” compared to a mean height of 5’3 for women.

In an article written by Thomas F. Lang on the bone-muscle relationship in men and women, men are, on average, physically stronger than women, who have less total muscle mass, both in absolute terms and relative to total body mass.

Furthermore, according to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, men have larger hearts, a greater cardiovascular reserve, and greater lung volume per body mass.

Another study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine showed a strong correlation between high levels of testosterone and high levels of aggression. Men have, on average, 7 to 8 times more testosterone than women.

There are, of course, many cases in which women are physically stronger and faster than men. But a majority of the time there is a clear disparity. That is why sports teams exist for both men and women.

That being said, a serious question arises from this new policy: If gender is inconsequential to creating sports teams, why not make all sports co-ed?

Depending on the sport, a transgender girl may end up injuring one of her teammates or a member of the opposition.

Through this policy, it becomes much easier for male student-athletes to cheat the system, whether they like it or not. All they have to do is identify as the opposite gender, and they have a straight shot to the top.

Such an incident was reported by the New York Post.

Earlier this year, Mack Beggs, an 18-year-old female transgender athlete, won the girls’ state wrestling title for the second year in a row. According to the article, Beggs “entered the state tournament with a 32-0 record.”

Furthermore, when we start saying there are no significant differences between men and women, what happens to transgender people who make the claim that they are “born this way?”

That is a biological claim. It’s the strongest defense they have against their critics. They are arguing that they are in the wrong body. They are acknowledging the differences between men and women.

U SPORTS should be very careful with what rules they implement. With this transgender policy, male student-athletes could exploit the system, leaving female student-athletes vulnerable to losing their own sports leagues.

There are several physical differences between male and female athletes that make all the difference between a minor and severe injury. I certainly would not want to have a male athlete on an all-female football team.

There are many issues with this new policy, but only time will tell how severe the consequences will be.