Transgender People In Sports And Military: Our Resident Physician (And Trans Woman!) Weighs In.

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Another submission from our resident transwoman (and retired physician), Anna.

There are hens and roosters, cows and bulls, does and bucks, sows and boars, ewes and rams, women and men.  Why is the last group so difficult to understand when the former are not at all difficult to understand?

Beth Stelzer, a female power lifter and founder of Save Women’s Sports stated, “These gender extremists are insisting that we accept their feelings as science, yet they do not consider the feelings of others.”  Nor might I add do they accept science at all!

A recent study in Sweden at the Karolinska Institute (which is a highly respected medical university) has shown that biological males who claim to be transgender women still retained considerable advantages over biological females in strength and muscle mass, even after a full year of hormone therapy (primarily estrogen).  Further, the study stated, “Despite the robust increases in muscle mass and strength in [transgender men], the [transgender women] were still stronger and had more muscle mass following 12 months of treatment. The findings add new knowledge that could be relevant when evaluating trans women’s eligibility to compete in the women’s category of athletic competitions.”  The republished findings can be found here. 

To translate this a bit, testosterone administered to genetic women greatly increased strength and muscle mass.  But genetic men given estrogen, while developing some secondary female characteristics, were still stronger than the genetic women. 

Another study concluded that male athletes who claim to be female hold an “intolerable” advantage over biological female athletes according to an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Three professors — two in bioethics and one in physiology (how the human body functions) — noted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is allowing “transgender women” to compete against biological females if their testosterone is below 10 nmol/L. However, even that level is “significantly higher” than that of biological females, they asserted.

The researchers also stated that “indirect effects of testosterone [in genetic males] will not be altered by hormone therapy.” In other words, giving a genetic male estrogen will not negate the indirect effects of the testosterone he has been exposed to since birth.  In fact, this is why not only estrogens are administered to trans-women but testosterone blockers as well.

“For example, hormone therapy will not alter bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the transwoman athlete, especially if she transitions postpuberty, so natural advantages including joint articulation, stroke volume and maximal oxygen uptake will be maintained,” they explained.

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“We conclude that the advantage to transwomen afforded by the IOC guidelines is an intolerable unfairness,” state the professors.

A diagrammatic representation of many of these facts may be found here. 

From a medical standpoint, any medical student who has completed basic anatomy can readily identify (I hope) the difference between male and female anatomy from skeletal structure to organ differences.

I had a pathology professor that I loved because he was funny and because he could make difficult pathologies easier for a poor medical student to understand.  He would say the following: “When you’re dead you don’t know that you’re dead. The pain is only felt by others. The same thing happens when you’re stupid.” He also would say, “Don’t be concerned if you are ignorant about something.  Educate yourself out of your ignorance. However, stupid is a terminal condition.” Both of those sayings have borne out to be truisms throughout my career and indeed, as an homage to him, I have instructed my students with the same advice. 

I have often wondered if a medical student, educated at any number of the “woke” universities in pre-med would indeed misidentify genetic males and females if their “pass/fail” grade depended on it?

So allow me now to acquaint you readers with the following: The Australian Psychological Society, a group of some 24,000 psychologists, have opined that “children should neither have to obtain parental consent nor undergo mandatory counseling to undergo irreversible gender-transition surgeries.”  Further they say that “even though both parents disapprove this still should not keep a child of under 16 years of age from consenting to having the surgical procedure arguing that such counseling would be ‘an unnecessary burden’ on the child.” Stupid doesn’t even come close to my impression of that opinion. 

With the ever increasing number of trans-people expressing regret at their transitions and “detransitioning”, this advice from the psychologists is especially troubling.

So with that introduction, maybe now would be a good time to address equality.  Wow, equality sure sounds good. Everybody is equal to everybody else I suppose.  Thinking about myself, I’m pretty certain that I’m not equal to an NBA player even 50 years ago when I was more in alignment with their average age.  I’m also pretty sure I could have never been equal to Usain Bolt as a sprinter. But I am pretty sure I am equal to them as a human and hopefully in standing before the law of the land.  So equality seems to have a lot of layers like an onion…in the outer layers, people are not equal in talents, intellect, economic standing, nor in physical attributes. But when the outer layers are peeled away, at the core, people should be equal as humans, no better and no worse than the next person, and as noted people should expect to be treated equally before the law.  Unfortunately, in today’s society, there is an effort to make people equal in the “outer layers” of the onion. Let’s take a brief look at physical abilities again.

It is being said that trans-women are destroying women’s sports and making it almost impossible for genetic women to compete. How this inequality ultimately gets worked out is anyone’s guess.  But it seems to me that genetic differences (inequality if you will) should be taken into account. Whether they will be or not is up for debate.

So, what about the military?  There are obviously many military jobs that can be handled in an equally efficient manner by either men or women.  In some combat roles women can perform every bit as well as men. I am specifically thinking of combat pilots.

But what about the combat “ground pounders”, the top tier units like the SEALS, Rangers, Delta, Marine Recon, and several more where physical strength is crucial?

I recently reviewed an article “leaked” to the press where in the results of physical testing in the military were published.  It seems that 84% of the genetic women who took the Army Combat Fitness Test failed while some 30% of the men failed. As sad as it is that 30% of the men failed, the fact that 84% of women failed is devastating to the social engineering people who want women to be able to perform in combat units equal to the men. In the aforementioned test there were some 11 battalions composed of about 3206 soldiers, 357 of whom were females. There are a variety of strength, endurance, and agility assessments that comprise the test but it seems the one the women had the most difficulty with was the leg tuck test in which the candidate assumes a pull-up position and then brings her hips and knees up to the level of her elbows as many times as possible in two minutes.  A writer named David Brown made the assessment that the reason the women performed poorly was because the test was “sexist.” I wonder if this writer can spell S-T-U-P-I-D? I mean after all, it wasn’t the women’s fault, it was the fault of the test Mr. Brown opined! Really?!

The Army Rangers are a premier group of soldiers who pride themselves in “Leading the way.”  Until recently the Rangers have been comprised of all males. Now there have been some 12 females who have graduated Ranger school but not without controversy.  For example, men who qualify to take the test for Ranger school are evaluated during training and it is strictly pass/fail while the women were allowed to retake the program until they passed. Additionally the women were given pre-training and instruction in land navigation  (one of the basic courses for Ranger School) while the men had to address the navigation test without any advanced instruction about the course. The women were allowed to repeat key parts of the test like the patrols while the men were not allowed. Is this equal?  

I am not here to debate whether genetic women can perform in combat tasks as well as genetic men.  And, I have to assume that trans-men (women who have bulked up on testosterone) will perform better than genetic women (cis-women in today’s PC correct vernacular)….but I don’t know that for certain.

What I do know is that for many years I have treated lots of military veterans and I have a nephew who is a Marine Recon captain.  When you look at the fundamental purpose of the military, it exists to fight wars and win wars. There is no talk (nor should there be) of “fighting fair” or any such thing.  You fight to win and often that simply means killing your enemy before that enemy kills you. That means you want your military to bring to the fight the best in intelligence, armaments, strength, skill, and determination.  There should not be any thought about being “equal” to the enemy. You should want to be far more than equal in personnel, armaments, intelligence, etc.  

I am told by my nephew that unit cohesion is essential for optimal performance in the Marines and in other service units was well.  That totally makes sense. So what happens when you introduce an “experiment” into the unit, a “man” who is a natal female? The politically correct response is nothing happens, it’s the same as if another natal male was assigned to the unit.  But below the surface, I am told that soldiers/sailors wonder about that. I am told that there are combat units that have integrated trans-men and I am also told that men being men, soldiers being soldiers they are not fully accepted in part because they have to have separate considerations.  As much as the social engineers want it to be equal, it really never will be. And if a fighting unit exists to be the most efficient that it can be, what is the purpose of introducing this “difference?”

Although I have not personally read the guidelines, I am told that the Army under President Obama began transgender sensitivity training.  That training included instructions about how to handle a “male” soldier who became pregnant! Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty noted that, “The pregnancy scenario is beyond words.  This is an example of how this social policy can be used to simply promote personal agendas at the expense of taxpayers with no regard for being what the military is all about.” The training manual covered all sorts of things including “shower etiquette.”  As previously noted, it is difficult to see how this advances the fighting capabilities of America’s military forces and promotes cohesion in fighting units. I mean, if a “male” soldier gets pregnant (and how stupid does that sound) someone had to get that soldier pregnant.  Is that the way we want our fighting units performing in the field….getting another member of the squad pregnant? Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds a lot like what my old pathology professor warned us about…stupid is a terminal condition and on the battlefield that condition can be greatly magnified. As he opined, the pain is felt by those around you.