The Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo (July 24 to August 9, 2020) are about a year away, but controversy is already building. There’s always Olympic controversy, of course, most often about performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, host-country athletes and “scientists” were so widely involved in cheating (especially in urinalyses) that the World Anti-Doping Agency recommended Russia be banned from participating in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. That didn’t happen, although Russia was subsequently banned at the ‘18 Winter Games in PyeongChang, although some Russian athletes did compete, as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” but without the Russian flag or national anthem. (Several of them failed drug tests at the Games.)
Overall, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a strong and oft-stated interest – one shared by the governing bodies of all participant sports – in keeping the Olympics free of PEDs. This is not just because of the competitive advantages these substances provide but also because of the danger drugs present to the long-term health of athletes.
The ideal of the amateur athlete may be gone from the Games, but a belief in the importance of healthy, natural athletes persists.
Or does it?
The IOC and many – if not most (and by next July perhaps all) – athletic federations now condone some of the most extreme drug use imaginable: mandated testosterone-suppressant drugs for men who wish to compete as women – i.e. male-to-female (MtF) “transgender” athletes.
The debate – if there even is one at this point – is solely about just how suppressed the testosterone level must be in the MtF competitor, which is to be measured both in lowered serum blood levels of the hormone and the length of time those levels have been maintained.
In effect, the IOC and others are saying that what defines a competitor in, say, a women’s 100-meter sprint is simply that hormone level. Here is the IOC formula as it stands: no more than 10 nmols/L (nanomoles per liter) of serum testosterone for at least 12 months prior to competition. As the IOC states: “To require surgical anatomical changes as a precondition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”
So, a man may qualify to compete in the upcoming Olympics 100-meter sprint against athletes who were born female if he declares his “gender” to be female, begins a testosterone suppression regime that by July 23, 2019 reaches that 10 nmols/L standard, and then maintains that level as the Games begin on July 24, 2020.
Here’s the thing, whereas the normal range of serum testosterone in men is between 10.41 and 34.70 nmols/L, normal levels for women are between 0.52 and 2.43. This means that an Olympic-qualifying MtF sprinter who, at 10 nmols/L is at the low end of the male testosterone spectrum, will be at more than four times the maximum natural level for females.
Now, we know this is absurd. As the recent Vatican document, “Male and female he created them: for a path of dialogue on the issue of gender in education,” plainly states:
The process of identifying sexual identity is made more difficult by the fictitious construct known as “gender neuter” or “third gender”. . . .Efforts to go beyond the constitutive male-female sexual difference, such as the ideas of “intersex” or “transgender,” lead to a masculinity or femininity that is ambiguous, even though (in a self-contradictory way), these concepts themselves actually presuppose the very sexual difference that they propose to negate or supersede.
What we don’t know is how many men may decide to act absurdly at the Tokyo Olympics. I’m not very worried about it, frankly, but then I’m an old man and not a world-class female sprinter. Those elite women athletes are worried (or should be). Here’s why.
Florence Griffith Joyner’s 1988 100-meter sprint world record for women, 10.49 seconds, was a great achievement (perhaps unaided by PEDs). However, in this year’s Texas high-school boys 100-meter championship, Matthew Boling ran a U.S.-record-shattering 9.98. Mrs. Joyner was 29** when she set her world record; Mr. Boling is 18. And throughout 2019, all of the top seventy-five American male high-school sprinters bested Joyner’s world-record time.
I dwell on the high-schoolers’ achievements because these boys have hit the peak of their natural, drug-unassisted biological development, and even after they have completed puberty, they will thereafter have the benefit of the hormonal boost from those teenage years – in terms of height, weight, speed, and strength. Suppressing testosterone thereafter would somewhat diminish its benefits but only somewhat.
I stress again that an MtF athlete cleared to compete in Tokyo need not appear to be a female. From the evidence of recent events in which MtF athletes have competed, some will have “feminine” hairstyles, and some may show evidence of breast augmentation. Some will just look like guys. But, as the IOC has stated (thank God!), no aggressive interventions are required, none of what some MtF transgender people put themselves through: no breast implants; no shaving of the Adam’s apple; no orchiectomy (removing the testicles); penectomy (penis dissection); no subsequent “gender-affirming” vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, or clitoroplasty – all of that together requiring a lifetime of hormone therapy (estrogens, antiandrogens, progestogens, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone modulators – any or all), lest the male body reassert itself, which, failing the chemical interventions, it will, that being its nature.
Besides, there is no intervention that can change an XY person into an XX person. That defining chromosomal, biological difference between men and women is what’s natural. This is why the Vatican calls transgenderism “fictitious.”
The fiction is reinforced by IOC rules about FtM athletes. Essentially, there are no rules, since no woman could compete successfully against the men, no matter what she claims her sex to be.
[*Mrs. Joyner’s age was mistyped by me as 39 when this was first published. My thanks to reader Dennis Monokroussos who caught the error.]
**Image: The USA’s Betty Robinson (#879) wins the first-ever women’s 100-meter Olympic championship (Antwerp, 1928)