The brouhaha surrounding transgender women (male-to-female) competing in women’s sports has only grown louder in recent years for obvious reasons.
Whether it’s Fallon Fox trouncing Tamikka Brents in MMA, Mary Gregory crushing her competition in women’s powerlifting, or Rachel McKinnon sailing away from other cyclists to set a new sprint world record, transgender women seem unbeatable.
And with the (now delayed) 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, many female competitors are asking the obvious question: is this fair?
Transgender women, like Fox, Gregory, and McKinnon insist their past life as a man gives them no real advantage over their female counterparts. Some, like Fox, even claim they’re at a disadvantage.
I invited Dr. Greg Brown onto the podcast to help explain what science has to say on the matter.
He’s a professor of Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska Kearney who recently wrote an “expert declaration” on this very subject that examines all of the relevant research currently available.
In this interview, Dr. Brown breaks it all down, explaining the physical advantages men enjoy over women, how they affect sports performance, and how many of these advantages remain after a male-to-female transition.
Press play and tune in!
5:02 – Who is Gregory Brown and what is his background?
6:14 – Why did you write this controversial expert declaration?
7:17 – What are these inherent advantages that men have compared to women?
12:46 – How do physiological differences affect performance?
15:00 – How does transitioning before puberty affect the body?
19:27 – What are your thoughts on how this could affect women’s sports?
22:50 – If there are physical advantages in transgenders, where should we go from here? Should we ban them from women’s sports?
29:01 – How does your average transgender athlete compare to an elite women athlete?
44:19 – Where can people find you and your work?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, and welcome to another glorious episode of Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews, your host, and this is an episode I’m probably gonna get some flack for, but that’s okay. That’s how you know you’re over the target, right? Or something. Anyway, this episode is on the topic of transgender women competing in women’s sport.
And this has become a, a hot button affair as of the last couple of years, mostly because many transgender women are just blowing biological women out of the water in a number of different sports ranging from track to weightlifting to handball, m m A, you name it. And in some cases, Some of these transgender women are setting records that no biological woman will likely ever be able to break.
Now, some people say that there isn’t a problem here and them’s the breaks because men who have transitioned to women and followed the official competitive protocols don’t actually have any physical or biological advantages over. Other women, they’re just better at the sports. Other people, on the other hand, argue that the significant physical advantages that men do enjoy over women, such as more strength, speed, and power, cannot be eliminated by hormone therapy and thus by biological men, regardless of how they identify, should not be able to compete against biological women.
Who’s right? Well, I invited Dr. Greg Brown onto the podcast to help explain what science has to say on the matter. Now, why Dr. Brown? Well, he is a professor of exercise science at the University of Nebraska Kearney, and he also recently wrote an expert declaration on this for a subject that examines. All of the relevant research that we currently have available, and in this interview, Dr.
Brown breaks it all down. He explains the physical advantages that men enjoy over women, how much they matter in sports, and what happens to them biologically after men transition to become women. Now before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my v i p one-on-one coaching service.
My team and I have helped people of all ages. Circumstances and needs. So no matter how complicated or hopeless you might think your situation is, don’t worry. We will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100% custom. We provide daily workout logs, we do weekly accountability calls.
Our clients get priority. Email service as well as discounts on supplements and the list goes on and on. We basically do everything we can to help you lose fat, gain muscle, and get healthy as quickly. And enjoyably. That’s an important point as possible. So to learn more, head over to legion athletics.com/.
Coaching and schedule your free consultation call Now there is usually a wait list and new slots do fill up quickly, so don’t wait. Just head over to legion athletics.com/coaching. Lock in your free consultation call and let’s see if there’s a good fit. Hey, Greg. Thanks for taking the time to come and talk about a controversial issue.
I’m looking forward to talking with you.
Greg: Well, thank you so much for inviting me to come and talk to you. I’m excited to talk about this.
Mike: Yeah, this is something that I have been asked about not too often because I, I haven’t commented much on it. I’ve made, I. Little side comments here and there, but I hadn’t looked into much of the research and so this is something I’m sure you’re gonna get into.
But like, for example, I’ve had some people send me research that would suggest that a transgender athlete has no advantage whatsoever. There’s no such thing as a biological component here. That and, and so long as their testosterone is low enough or so long as. They started using these drugs at the right time, stuff like that, that essentially it doesn’t matter.
But then the results seem to say otherwise. When you have these people who supposedly they should have no advantage go from being a mediocre or worse male athlete to a dominant female athlete immediately just destroying entire fields of women, and you go, yeah, I don’t know. I think there’s more to this story, so that’s why we’re here.
I would. Love to hear. I, I read your paper and really liked it and so I think quickly, let’s just start with, I usually just kinda get right into the meat of it, but let’s just quickly talk about who you are and your qualifications. Just so if people are wondering like, alright, why should I listen? To what this guy has to say.
Greg: Okay. All right. So I’m Greg Brown. I’m a professor of exercise science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I’m a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. I’m a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. I’ve published close to 50 papers on exercise in the effects of exercise, in the effects of nutritional supplements, on health and exercise those fields.
I’ve been teaching exercise science as a professor since 2002. So I teach exercise physiology. I teach sports nutrition. I’ve taught anatomy and physiology. And then of course, you know, becoming a professor, you have to have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree and a PhD. So I’ve got all the formal education and anatomy and physiology, human physiology, animal physiology, endocrinology, exercise, physiology, a lot of exercise, science classes, biomechanics, those types of things.
So I am by all measures of incredible, yes. Thank you. Thank you. Yes.
Mike: You have all the baf fee days that you could possibly have. Actually at this point it would, it seems so. Uh, I think that’s just worth saying so people understand where you’re coming from and why they should listen to what you have to say and why write this expert declaration?
I’m curious because it is a very controversial issue, and I’m assuming you’re doing it. You care about principles here. You’re not trying to just stir the pot, you know?
Greg: Yeah. I’m really not trying to stir the pot. I have seen news reports and other things where people say, well, based on the science, transgender athletes do not have an advantage.
I. Then I thought, well, what is the science? And so I started looking into this and started looking into the peer reviewed research on this and the publications I could find. And through that I came across Alliance Defending Freedom, and we connected and they asked if I’d be willing to write this expert declaration summarizing what we know, what is in the published research regarding the physiologic differences between men and women, the physiologic differences that happen as somebody undergoes transgender therapy, and does that influence sports performance?
And again, I think it’s very important that we consider there are these physiologic differences between men and women that definitely give men an advantage in athletics.
Mike: And let’s get into that. So what are these inherent advantages and what’s the physiological basis?
Greg: Alright, if we start off. I think any of us that have gone through middle school recognize that in puberty, men grow taller than women.
Men tend to develop more muscle mass than women. Men also develop higher hemoglobin concentrations, higher red blood cell count, which then allows them to transport more oxygen. Their lungs. Men have a larger heart. Thin women, which allows it to pump blood more efficiently and giving a greater distribution of blood to the active muscles.
A big thing in puberty really is the effects of testosterone. When men hit puberty, boys hit puberty. Huge increase in the amount of testosterone in the body causing all of these effects. The increased muscle mass, the increased muscle strength that comes along with increased muscle mass, greater bone mineral density, greater body height.
If we look at it, Before puberty. There are some differences between boys and girls, but it’s really at puberty we see that differentiation. And again, because of those effects, men are faster, men are stronger, they are able to run long distances and short distances faster than women. They’re able to lift more weights, they’re able to jump higher, throw further.
All of these things. And a lot of it comes down to the effects of testosterone during puberty. And then if we look at what happens with transgender therapy or, you know, transitioning particularly from male to female is where I’ve focused. If you take a man that has gone through puberty and then you reduce his testosterone concentrations, increase estrogen concentrations, it doesn’t make him shorter.
I. He doesn’t get shorter because of this. It reduces the bone mineral density, but his bone mineral density is still higher than what you would expect in a comparable woman. There’s a reduction in muscle mass, but still more muscle mass than you would expect in a woman. He will develop more body fat, but still less body fat than you would expect in a comparable woman.
And so based on those things, it also doesn’t shrink his heart. He may have a reduced hemoglobin concentration, but still has more hemoglobin, more red blood cells than a comparable woman would have. So we can see these physiologic. Traits that aren’t completely reversed by transgender therapy.
Mike: And so you take a man who has gone through, let’s take your average guy, let’s say, right?
Average athletic guy who would go through that process. How would you say quantitatively in the ways that you’ve described, how would he compare to the average female athlete? Like, I can’t give an exact number, but how big of an advantage would you say that man who is now transitioning to be a woman, how does that play out in terms of his bottom line?
Uh, advantage that he still has now.
Greg: You know, it’s interesting because there’s actually not very much, if any, research that quantifies if you take a athletic person and measure them before and after transgender treatment, very little to any exists. What does exist, I hate to say it is a very dubious scientific quality in terms of peer review, in terms of methodological.
Things like that. But if we look at the muscle mass, if we look at the bone mineral density, he’s still gonna have 25% more muscle mass, 25% more bone mineral density, still have more muscle mass in the upper body than that comparable woman.
Mike: And so, I mean that alone, it take any sport really. And then just think of what, having that much more. ’cause with more muscle mass also comes more strength and more power and more speed and And 25% is not a small number.
Greg: No, no. It’s absolutely not a great case in point that kind of helped support this argument. If you look at the case of CC Telfer, who was a division two winning athlete in the 200 meter, if I remember it’s 200 meter last year, a male to female transition.
After transitioning CC Telfer won the NC two a championship by one and a half seconds over the second place. That is how much spread there was between second and eighth place. And you know, so this transgender individual wins by more seconds. Then you would expect to see across the spread of most of the finishers in the race.
Mike: And then just something else I thought of just to this point of what happens in puberty. So you have the, you have a few examples I’ve seen now of one was soccer, right? So it was like 15 year old soccer players, boys, was it the US team? The US Olympic team got just humiliated. By boys.
Greg: By boys, yeah. Yeah, it, it’s interesting, in one of the papers, in this legal declaration, it shows, I’m just gonna look this up.
So in the United States, just in 2017, 124 boys beat the women’s world record at the a hundred meter. High school age boys breaking the world record, and no women broke that world record in 2017. So again, just showing these inherent capabilities that even young boys have over a comparable, well-trained female athlete.
Mike: And so then I guess theoretically if you were, you would have to through. Hormone therapy and through, I guess that’d be the only thing you could really do, but through drugs trying to block things and alter physiology, it’s almost that you would have to undo puberty it seems, if you were gonna really roll back the physiological advantage, if you have 15 year old boys who can already outperform top level female athletes, Am I off in my thinking there, or no?
Greg: You would have to completely reverse puberty, which even still, it’s kind of impossible because of course it’s not gonna make these boys shorter. It’s not going to suddenly change their pelvic structure from male to female pelvic structure. It’s not suddenly gonna cause their shoulders, which tend to be broader in men to become skinnier like a woman’s.
Mike: And just for people wondering why do those. Factors matter? Like how does that play into or athletic performance?
Greg: Okay. Well, I mean, if we look at a sport like volleyball or basketball, right? You can’t coach height. If you’ve got a six foot, six inch player, they’re six feet, six inches, they’re going to defend much better than a six foot two inch player, right?
And so a six foot, six inch man that transitions to woman, he’s still six feet, six inches tall. If we look at the bone mineral density again, Stronger bones, you’re less likely to be injured. If we look at the pelvic structure of a woman compared to a man, there’s definite differences. A woman’s pelvic structure is more round to allow childbirth that changes the angle.
They call it the quadriceps angle or Q angle between the knees and the hips, right? Because the women basically have a broader pelvis. Well, that actually makes women more predisposed to a c l injuries. Now you’ve got male athletes competing as women that have less likelihood for an A C L injury. Also, the difference in the Q angle does influence your running biomechanics.
And one of the things that they have found is the really elite female athletes have a less severe Q angle than the less effective female athletes, but it’s still different from male Q angle. And so by not changing the bone structure, You’re still having biomechanical advantage. You’re still having height advantages, you know, and we think about the broad shoulders.
There’s also then more attachment for muscle and corresponding, there’s still gonna be greater muscle mass, unless somehow you completely reverse that.
Mike: Yep. I’ve written and spoken about this, um, in the context of the potential for natural muscle gain, just the research indicating that total bone mass, it seems to be a pretty good indicator for how jacked you can get basically.
For how big and strong you can get. And you can take a, a measurement of the circumference of your wrists or really just one of your wrists and, and one of your ankles. And even extrapolate that forward. It’s not gonna be perfectly precise, it’s maybe part art, part science, but generally speaking, the people who.
Can get the biggest and strongest. They have big wrists. They have big ankles. They’re just big people. They have a big skeleton and so you can’t change that.
Greg: Right, right.
Mike: No hormones are gonna change that.
Greg: Right, right. Yeah. The structure is still there.
Mike: My next question for you is just gonna be okay, so just going down the list of, again, the things I’ve heard and paying attention from the outside of some of the conversation that’s gone on this matter.
So what about somebody if we have transitioning now, I actually don’t know how. Popular or common it is for someone to try to transition. At this point, it’d be parents doing it to their kids, I guess before puberty versus after.
Greg: Yeah. There’s not much research on that because of ethical problems.
Mike: Of course.
Greg: You know, if we look
Mike: at, it seems to be a, it’s a newer thing too. I mean, people weren’t doing this 30 years ago, right?
Greg: As far as I know. Yeah. As far as I know. Years ago, the idea was, well, if you have these tendencies, you’ve gotta wait till you’re an adult to make the decision. Right. And now it seems to be a thing where, Parents are supporting their children in that decision.
We really don’t know for sure what that’s going to do. As far as the puberty blockers, do they completely stop all the effects of puberty? The very limited research I have seen shows that it doesn’t completely stop puberty. It just reduces it quite a bit.
Mike: I mean, the physiology is so complex to think that we even.
Could somehow do that as probably presumptuous, I would think.
Greg: Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with you on that because what, there’s 6,500 different genes in the human body that are coded based on those XY or XX chromosomes, and so to think that we’re gonna hit somebody with some hormones and it’s going to completely negate all of those genetic effects, yeah, I don’t think that it’s possible at this point in time.
Mike: Makes sense. So here’s a another common counter argument that people who. Maybe don’t agree with you. Something you, I’m sure you’ve heard some people will say that there’s just a large degree of variation among individuals. It’s often the outliers who win the competition. So they’ll say like, you know, how athletically outstanding can a girl or woman be before we no longer see her as a female?
You know that there’s an Olympic champion caster
Greg: semi or something.
Mike: Yeah. Semenya, I think, yeah. Has very high testosterone for a woman. So then there was an announcement that people like her would have to reduce her testosterone levels.
Greg: You know, that’s a really complicated issue because in that case, we are dealing with someone who is very much an outlier.
Someone who might have intersex or might have five alpha alpha reductase deficiency or something like that. But generally speaking, those aren’t the people that we’re talking about. Here we are talking about individuals with no known genetic or biologic factors. That would make us define them as non male or non female.
You know what they’re born as and they have something else where they identify as a different sex than what they’re born as. And if we look, again, it, it’s hard to say with those outliers, but if we say overall, again, coming back to the idea of world records, right? There’s about 9,000 men and boys that have run a hundred meter sprint faster than the women’s world record.
So even if we say this amazing performing woman is an outlier, she’s still outperformed by a large number of very good men, but not necessarily elite world record holder men.
Mike: They can’t all be outliers, right? When you have that many that are doing it. Yeah. Like maybe they’re a little bit on the right side of the curve, but they’re not the 1%.
Mike: They’re not at the end of it. Now that makes sense.
Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my v i p one-on-one coaching service. Now my team and I have helped thousands of people. Of all ages, circumstances, and needs.
So no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100% custom. We provide daily workout logs and we do weekly accountability calls. Our clients get priority email service, as well as discounts on supplements, and the list goes on and on.
To learn more, just head over to legion athletics.com/coaching, and if you like what you see, schedule your free consultation call now. There’s normally a wait list to work with our coaches and new slots do fill up very quickly. So if this sounds even remotely interesting to you, head over to legion athletics.com/coaching now and schedule your free consultation call and let’s see if our program is a good fit for you.
I. What are your thoughts on how big of an issue is this in the context of where it could effects that it could have on women’s sports? Because some people will say like, oh, well, maybe some people don’t even know. They’ll say, oh, well there are probably a lot of transgender athletes who aren’t winning.
Who just go and then they’re not really good and or they’re just kind of whatever, middle of the pack. And it’s kind of ties into the outlier argument where it’s like, oh, well you’re just taking these outliers and blowing it up to be bigger than it really is. But what are your thoughts on the potential systemic effects and how Well, it seems that many of these transgender athletes.
Are doing, and it’s the, obviously the male to female the other way around wouldn’t be based on everything you said. That wouldn’t be a problem. Like women could happily try to transition to a, a man and go compete in men’s sports, but they will get crushed. So we wouldn’t even have the conversation.
Well, you know, it, it’s really hard to say how big this is going to be as far as, you know, looking at sports overall and everything. But I think if we look on an individual level, If one girl doesn’t make the medal stand in high school sports, that’s very meaningful to her. You know, there’s only first, second, third place in a lot of sports, and so if a male to female takes first place, now we’ve got a girl that should have been third that now doesn’t get a medal.
How is that going to influence her possibility of getting a college scholarship? How is that going to influence just, does she even want to compete if she knows that she doesn’t have a chance to compete? Is that going to discourage women and girls from participating in sports? And you know, if we look at it and we can see examples in all sorts of sports where women are losing to transgender athletes, and I think it’s very meaningful to those individuals that aren’t.
Winning because of that, especially when we look at how much time people put into sports and how much effort they put into sports.
Mike: I mean, it becomes in many cases, their identity. I mean, I understand. I grew up playing sports and I was super into it and knew a lot of people like that, and it becomes almost all consuming.
It can be, and it doesn’t even necessarily have to be in an unhealthy way. It’s just. You know, something you get really into. And so what does that mean then when you’ve put all that time into it? And that all means nothing.
Greg: Exactly. And we look at a, a lot of these athletes, you know how many of our kids, they start practicing for a specific sport at 10 or 11 years old, hoping that when they’re a senior in high school, they can get on that medal stand and then to not have that happen because of no fault in them for training.
But because someone with known physiologic advantages is given the opportunity to compete and then take their winning spot.
Mike: And what are some of the, I’m just, this is now where I’m not sure where the argument goes. ’cause usually the argument, the counter arguments that I’ve seen to stuff that you covered in your declaration that we’re talking about here has been more on the physiological like, Kind of cherrypicking research or misinterpreting things and trying to make a case that there actually is no advantage to.
Why are we even talking about it? So if someone were to acknowledge, okay, Greg, I’ll grant you that. There very well could be a physiological advantage, but too bad. Like, you know, we get to this point of, well, and you, we were talking about this just before we got on that, you know, people want to be compassionate and they want to, they want to try to treat people the way that they would want to be treated.
And so they’ve put themselves in the shoes of someone who feels like they’re stuck in the wrong body and they would, you know, go through that whole process. And then now, should that person be barred from competing, should they be handicapped? Should the transition process be more rigorous or should it just be like, Well, that’s the way them’s the breaks.
Like that’s how it works. And you know, if you don’t like it, then don’t play the game.
Greg: And that’s a really interesting question. And by and large, I wanna leave that question up to the people that make the rules for the sports, the governing bodies, whether it’s at the state level or the district level or national level, they need to make those decisions, but I want them to make it based on the science.
Mm-hmm That shows there is an advantage. Okay, I’m gonna wander off. I’m trying not get into the weeds here too much, but we have so many rules in sports to make it fair, right? Whether it’s how many P S I the ball is inflated to, yeah. Whether it is what type of swimming suit you can wear, or what type of footwear you can wear, or something like that.
To try and make it fair. We have rules that state how many practices you can have before competitive season. How much contact the athletes can have a coach, how many hours of practice. In a lot of high school sports, there’s districting rules, right? If you live in a certain area, you have to go to that school and compete on that team.
Regardless of if it’s a good team or a not good team to try and keep things fair. And so I would ask these people that say, well, them’s the brakes. I would ask, well, so how is that fair? And if you’re going to say, okay, them’s the brakes, make it fair. So I would ask, what is their stand on anabolic steroids?
Should we allow everybody then to go ahead and use anabolic steroids, which we know are going to enhance performance? Should we allow them to take amphetamines? Should we encourage Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Let’s encourage drugging in sport because them’s the break. So then it becomes who has the best biochemist, not who’s the best athlete,
Mike: which ironically, at the highest level of many sports, that’s more accurate than inaccurate.
But, but them them’s actually the breaks and you know, then comes the human nature of rule beating. You know, some people, that’s how they operate and you know, whatever. But, so what are your thoughts again, these, these just be your thoughts. I understand that this is maybe not it, it wouldn’t be your specialty, so to speak, or maybe you wouldn’t feel as qualified to say, this is what I would do, but what are your thoughts on how it could be made more fair.
Greg: You know, I, I’ve debated this in my mind. I definitely think that we need women’s and girls sports, right? We have Title IX passed in 1972, establishing that there should be women’s and girls sports. We need this opportunity for women and girls to participate in sports. We need to keep that fair and make sure that.
You know, as much as possible, no one is given an advantage. I don’t know, do we need a third class? Maybe? We have male sports, we have female sports, we have open class. And so then if someone, a female is willing to compete against a transgender athlete, they could go into the open class. That might be a possibility.
Mike: And just to say, I mean, somebody would say, oh, well, that basically what you’re saying is a transgender class, and that’s discrimination to me, I would say. Yeah. Okay. So then having men and women’s sports, is that discrimination as well? Like for people who just say, yeah, no, I’m a guy, I’m a girl, and that’s it.
That’s the end of the story. Like that. Nobody would say that’s discriminatory. It’s based on, like you were saying, it’s based on rational thinking. I. And it’s based on biology and yeah. There’s a reason why those things have been separated.
Greg: Yeah. Thousands of years of human experience dictating that men have an athletic advantage over women.
Mike: Yeah. So it doesn’t really make sense to let men go, uh, for women don’t want to compete with men. ’cause they’re like, yeah, this game sucks. Like, I can’t win, I can’t do anything, you know, I’d rather not play this game. Can we make a game I can play at? And so the question I guess then is, Is allowing more and more transgender athletes to compete with biological women, is that going to ruin the sporting element of the sport?
Where then you just go, why bother? Like I’m doing this just for my own gratification, I guess. Because I enjoy the process and I’m gonna grind. I’m gonna put all this time in. I know I’m never gonna win anything and I’m never gonna advance. I’m never gonna get a scholarship, but I just do it ’cause I have nothing better to do.
Greg: You know, and we do see that there’s a lot of athletes that you see going out for sport that knowing they’re never gonna make varsity unless somebody gets injured or sick or something. And they keep doing it ’cause they love it. And I don’t wanna discourage that in any way. And I hope that it will still happen, but I just can’t help but think that there will be a downstream negative result of if we have more transgender athletes competing in women’s sports, that there will be fewer women competing in women’s sports.
And I think it’s gonna be particularly the really elite women. That would be discouraged because they know they can’t compete and they know they’re good enough to compete against other women, but not good enough to compete against a transgender athlete. And so those are the ones that I think would be probably hardest hit by this rather than say, our average athlete that just loves the sport.
Mike: Hmm. And I find that kind of ironic in the context of our current environment and how much emphasis is put on. Women’s rights and put on equality between the genders, whether it’s along the lines of pay or educational opportunities or it just, it seems that this is for the woke folk out there who seem to care so much about social justice.
How can they get this so backward.
Greg: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a difficult thing, especially when we look at these such well-known physiological and anatomical differences between men and women. Chromosomal genetic differences between men and women. I’m all for equal work, for equal pay. I think that’s important. I think there should be equal opportunities for these types of things, but I think we also need to recognize that there are.
Differences, especially when it comes to things like athletics. A woman can’t compete with a man in the vast majority of athletic endeavors when you know, again, we’re comparing as much as possible apples to apples. Elite women to elite men, or average women to average men. Absolutely.
Mike: And you may have already, I mean, you’ve covered this, at least obliquely, but I think it should just be directly addressed for anybody who might be thinking about it.
So take, again, looking at the data that’s available, your average. Transgender athlete is, just to make it clear, is performing generally performing at a much higher level than not just your average female? I mean, that’s probably certainly true. I’d assume. How does your average transgender athlete compare to, let’s say, your average elite female?
Greg: Uh, you know that it’s hard because I don’t know that we have numbers on that, so we have to come back to some instances where we have case studies or individuals. Again, coming back to the idea of CC Telfer in division two, winning by a second half, we can look, there’s a. Male to female transgender athlete playing college basketball in California, six foot, six inch center, that by and large, wow.
She had the record for the most rebounds in the league. Well, she’s six foot, six inches tall. Right? Compared to the tallest women on the team that aren’t, that there’s not that many, six foot, six inch women. And again, we can see things, whether it’s mountain biking or whether it’s mixed martial arts, things like that.
Take an average man. If we look at it on average, men are going to be 10 to 30% better at athletics than women generally, like 10%, 11% better, and things like running and like 30% better in strength. So then if we take transgender athlete with that inherent 10 to 30% advantage and reduce it, but they still have a 25% advantage over a woman, yeah, they’re still going to, you know, be much better.
Than probably even the elite women, or at least competing with the elite women
Mike: immediately. And so what they can go from being an average male athlete to an outstanding female athlete over the course of a short period of time. Yeah.
Greg: Yeah. And again, coming back to the case study, I hate, I, I should probably stop picking on CC Telfer, but it’s the case I’m very familiar with as a male athlete.
CC Telfer was 200th in the nation and then becomes a female athlete and is number one. I think we have a case study right there that helps illustrate that. Yeah, there’s a big difference between men and women, even after man transitions. Yeah.
Mike: Yeah. That makes sense. Well, I mean, those are the main questions that I had for you.
Are there any other points that we haven’t covered that you feel are worth mentioning or any other particularly counterpoints? I thought that that would be, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you because of how. Researched, you are on this, and I just wanted to take things that people have thrown at me that I’ve said, you know, I honestly don’t have a good answer for that because I haven’t looked into this, but are there any other counter arguments or any other points that you feel are worth covering just for the sake of thoroughness?
Greg: Yeah. I think one thing people have maybe said, well, the reason men and women perform differently is because women haven’t had the advantage of the many dozens or hundreds of years in sports training that men have. And we can see that up until, you know, basically early 1970s, there wasn’t many opportunities for women’s sports.
And in the early 1970s, up until about the mid eighties, there were huge increases in women’s record performance as they started training more effectively because they had full-time opportunities and things like that. But by and large, the differences in world records between men and women, they leveled off about the mid eighties and has stayed the same.
And so if we see a new Woman’s world record set in something, it’s still gonna be that. 10 to 30% different from the men’s world record. And again, if we look at some of the things like in the marathon, in the a hundred meters, the Women’s World records were set over 20 years ago and haven’t been broken.
And the men’s world records have been broken recently. So I don’t think it’s a matter of training or nutrition or understanding how the body works anymore that is making this difference between men and women. It’s physiology, it’s anatomy, it’s inherent differences between men and women.
Mike: Yeah, that makes sense.
For people listening, a lot of people listening are into weightlifting. It’s like the newbie gains you where you get a lot of, in the beginning you’re new and your body’s very responsive and, and then things slow down. And so similarly that makes sense where you go from a period of not much attention and effort being put into female athletics to getting a lot of attention and effort.
And so you see a rapid increase just through better training, better nutrition, just. People, you know, really applying the same probably techniques where they already knew, they’re like, well, we know what works with guys and let’s do it over here and look at that. Look, hey, they’re getting really good. But then you get into your intermediate and advanced stage as an individual and take the gym for example, where now you’ve already got 80% of what’s available to you in terms of muscle and strength, and now you’re working your ass off.
You’re working twice as hard for like very little return. And that’s just the nature of, you know, Whatever. That’s the nature of any sort of physical activity like that now. That’s a good point. Are there any other counter arguments or any other points that are worth addressing?
Greg: You know, I, I, I can’t think of any right now.
I really can’t. I guess I, I’ve mentioned this once before, but I also wanna mention that people will come back and say, well, the International Olympic Committee. Said such and such. Okay. Well, in 2003, when the International Olympic Committee said, oh, well, transgender athletes can compete as female athletes if they reduce their testosterone, and they’ve had two years of treatment and legal and stuff like that.
And they said it was based on the best science. But at the time, the best science was basically four published articles looking at bone mineral density. The I O C came back. Yeah. The I O C came back to look at this again in 2015, and actually the I O C loosened up the standards a little bit. Now, you don’t have to have two years of transgender therapy and you don’t have to have a ectomy.
You just have to have a year of testosterone suppression, and a sworn statement. There wasn’t much change as far as what the research goes. From 2003 to 2015, there was more studies showing, oh, reduction in bone mineral density, but still more than you would have in a male. No change in body height. There was maybe four papers looking at things around athletic performance such as muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle density, and those papers showed transgender athletes still have greater muscle mass muscle density, muscle strength than a comparable female.
There is research currently underway in some Scandinavian countries to look at athletics in transgender athletes, um, looking at how it affects their performance, but those data are still. Years away from before they’re being available and published. So you know the people that come back, well, the I O C and the I O C based it on data.
I have not been able to find that data that supports the transgender athletes do not have an advantage. What I find is transgender athletes still have inherent physiological advantages
Mike: and then somebody might wonder, well, Why then why would the I you’re saying they’re lying, like, yeah.
Greg: Yeah. Boy, this is going out on a limb here, but I think that it perhaps might be a situation of individuals putting a social philosophy ahead of objective biological data,
Mike: and anyone who thinks that that’s not possible, come on.
Like how naive do you have to be to, especially when the evidence, there’s very good circumstantial evidence where you’re like, okay, so we have two scenarios here. Either these people did not even read this research or are incapable of reading and interpreting this research, or there are misinterpreting the research.
There’s really kind of only two possibilities here. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really it. So it’s extreme incompetence or. Politics. Yeah. Willful negligence. Right, right. Yeah, exactly. No, no, no, no. That not it’s extreme carelessness. Remember that was, that was, that was the key. Uh, it makes me think of totally separate discussion.
It makes me think of the, in the context of climate change, the 97% consensus based on a study by Cook at all, that was trashed by other researchers later who dug into the data and were like, No, no, no, no. There’s like 0.1% consensus. What are you talking about yet? Nobody cares. They still pay. There’s nine of them.
It’s just, it’s, it’s an interesting world that we live in. But no, this has been a, a great conversation. Succinct, but very much to the point. And again, I, I would say is there anything else I did my best putting together my bullet points I wanted to talk to you about, but that’s why I’m kind of passing the ball back to you.
If there’s anything else that you feel should be mentioned in, in the context of everything we’ve discussed.
Greg: You know, the, the only other thing I could think of really, I think we’ve done a good job discussing the science about it, what’s known about it. I would just encourage. Your listeners and such that they need to be aware of this because they need to talk to their local sporting commissions.
They need to talk to their high school athletic administrations, things like that and say, okay, let’s look at this from a scientific standpoint. Let’s look at this from the physiologic, why we have men’s and women’s athletics in the first place. That takes some courage. It does, especially given our, again, our social climate today where people who say these things are labeled as all sorts of negative terms, but that’s not the case.
We’re not trying to say these individuals with this transgender issue. We’re not trying to discredit them as a human being. We’re not trying to reduce their value to society. Worth is a wonderful person. We don’t wanna say we don’t love them, but we also want to. Acknowledge, what does the science say? And we want our children to have the opportunity for fair competition.
Mike: And how does that fit into the spirit of sports, which is fair competition. Exactly. And where it is based on the individual’s ability to play the sport inherently. And like you said, not because they have a better bathing suit or Yeah. Or, or a better hockey stick or something. And that’s why they’re a little bit better than everybody else.
Greg: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.
Mike: Just to follow up with, On that point. And I think it is worth just commenting on, on the point of it does take some individual courage and you do have to be willing, and I don’t, I mean you, you exemplify it in terms of what, ’cause I don’t know if people don’t, many people don’t understand how academia.
Works. And if you break with the norm or if you, if you break with expectations, there can be backlash and there always are politics involved in any situation. And so individually it does take that of standing up and saying, I. Well, let’s talk about what’s white and wrong. Let’s talk about what’s scientific.
Let’s talk about the biology and people can inform themselves, like in the show notes, I’m gonna put a link to your paper and, and it’s very accessible, which is nice, like you can read it and understand it. Sometimes scientific research, it gets so loaded down with jargon. The layman, even someone like me, it’s like, okay, time to get the fiz books out again, because I don’t even, I’m having a hard time following what’s even being discussed here.
And then being willing to stand on it and being willing to, to be challenged and, you know, so for people, I, I just wanna commend people who are willing to do that and yourself included. Uh, because it’s needed in every element, in every aspect of society, we need people that are willing to stand up and go, Hey, I may not have it all figured out and I may be entirely wrong.
But I’m gonna lay out my argument and I’m gonna lay it out rationally, and I don’t care if it goes against the orthodoxy. I believe in this, and maybe I’ll change my mind. Maybe somebody will change my mind, but this should be said.
Greg: Oh, well, thank you. Thank you. I’m very fortunate. I’m in the middle of Nebraska, which is a fairly conservative area, and I’ve got a good department chair and good colleagues who are willing to agree with, Hey, this is the science, put the science out there. And again, they’ll disagree with me too, but they’re respectful about it.
Mike: Right? Those types of discussions. It’s just there are two very different types of discussions that can be had, and I think this is useful for people listening. So you can have, you can lay out.
Okay, here’s my argument. And then you can have one type of person who would just say, oh, this is propaganda. You are a bigot and you probably voted for Trump. You’re a Nazi. Fuck you. That’s one type of person. And then you’re like, yeah, okay, cool. So, but is there anything specifically that you disagree with?
I said, and it goes nowhere. Or you have somebody, and this is probably more what you’ve experienced, where they go, you know, this is good work, but. On this particular point, you mentioned this and, and I looked, you know, looked at this paper and the data. Are you sure you got that right? And so that can be a productive discussion.
Greg: Absolutely. And the people that come up with really good, what if scenarios that we don’t have an answer to, such as, well again, coming back the idea with castor simonia as probably. Slaughtered, the last name there. But again, that individual appears to be female with some inherent genetic advantages. And that’s a good question we don’t have a really good answer to and a really clear answer to.
And I’m willing to discuss that if we can have it rational discussion. As long as people are willing to recognize, well, that is the exception, and by and large, that’s not what we’re discussing in this case.
Mike: And what are your thoughts on that, in that individual? ’cause my initial like the, what I jump to is I say yeah. And how many of those come around? Exactly. Oh, right. One in a generation, maybe. I mean, so by that argument, we could say, well, it’s not fair that Tiger Woods was so good at golf and we don’t know why. Just for that period when he was so dominant. I mean, I forget the exact statistic, it was absurd. It was top 10 in 70 something, 70% of tournaments, and one like 30 or 40%.
I might be getting those. I might be botching those stats. That’s what comes back to me. But he was so dominant. I remember other golfers saying, Actually complaining that they felt like they were playing. If he’s in a tournament, they’re playing for second place. So then what do we say we do? We say, okay, what we’re gonna do now is we’re gonna analyze Tiger Woods.
We’re gonna be like, we’re gonna find his advantages and we’re gonna handicap him. That’s unfair. No, of course not. But we won’t see another Tiger Woods probably for another a hundred years.
Greg: Exactly. And you can do that with, you know, every sport where you find these athletes that are so dominant. I mean, everybody says, who’s the next Michael Jordan?
There was only one. Michael Jordan.
Mike: Yep. Right. Yep. So, or Serena Williams. Exactly. You watch her play tennis, especially in her prime, you’re like even just ball speed and performance you’d expect from a man and, and you almost feel bad for some of the women who had to compete with her ’cause you’re like, she is trashing them, they have no chance.
And okay, it happened, but it still was within the context of. The separation between biological men and women and then saying what happens in there, like we don’t wanna micromanage too much and get too obsessive about equality and everyone needs to be equal ’cause that then that kills the sport. Do we want to enable, do we want like 10 more Serena Williams now in the next 10 years through this transgender movement?
Yeah. Is that good for, is that good for this work?
Greg: Exactly. Exactly. That’s, and that’s one of the important questions that we’ve gotta address.
Mike: Yeah. Well, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. I mean, the, the point of having an open class on the surface seems to make pretty good, logical sense and it would help keep things truly competitive, I think.
Greg: I think so too. I’m not in charge of those decisions, so guess what? We’ll see.
Mike: Ultimately, what’s nice about sports is they need to make money in the end. If people need to tune in, people need to care. And if people don’t care and don’t tune in, then the sports decline and then the incentive to. Make the changes necessary to make people care, you know, become more and more pressing.
And so, you know, in the end it might be one of those kind of market forces, types of situations where the ideology loses to the economics and you can’t force people. To change their mind. It never works, right? So when you have a woman who’s watching female sports and she sees other women getting crushed by transgender women and she just goes.
Uh, this is lame. Maybe she wouldn’t say that ever in public. She wouldn’t tell anybody. She’d be afraid of how she’d be labeled. But if that’s how she’s gonna feel, and I’m sure many women would feel that way, then she’s gonna tune out and eventually the sport just declines and declines and declines. So it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.
Mike: Yeah. It will be. It will be. Well, thanks a lot for taking the time. Greg to do this and usually in the end kind of wrap up with where people can find my guests and their work. And so if there’s anything that the listeners that you wanna let them know, I’m, I doubt you have an Instagram, for example.
If you do, then you can, you can let everybody know. But if there’s anything you want to tell people where they can find you in your work, anything that you know, maybe even follow up to this that they might find interesting.
Greg: Okay, well if you make a link to the, the declaration available that says where I’m at says what institution I’m at and what department I’m in so people can just get on the web and find me there.
It’s got my email address and
Mike: Oh, cool. So if people wanna reach out, they can ask me. If they have follow up questions, they can reach out to you.
Greg: Absolutely, absolutely. I’d welcome follow up questions on that. And again, the the legal declaration, I have to give props to the folks at A D F because they did really help.
Help me craft it so that a person can read it, right? Because I am stuck in the academic world and I’m an exercise physiologist and I love terminology. So the folks at Alliance Defending Freedom were very, very helpful to help get this in a, in a document that a person could read it, understand it, follow it, getting some good graphs and data in there and stuff.
So that was very helpful. And I encourage people to be involved in the conversation. Let, let’s have a good conversation about it. Let’s be respectful. But yeah, we can exchange viewpoints. I agree.
Mike: We need more of that.
Mike: Alright, Greg, thanks again.
Greg: Thank you very much. You have a good rest of the day.
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