New Haven, CONN: The Drake Group strongly opposes the rash of state legislative efforts to fully exclude transgender girls and women from school and college women’s sports programs. The Group also opposes the unconditional inclusion of transgender girls and women who do not choose to mitigate their post-pubescent male sex-linked advantages. Amid the current political discussion, the Drake Group believes it is important to state our position, contribute to public education about this issue, and applaud positive efforts to appropriately include all girls and women in women’s sports.
1. The predicate of competitive sport is fair competition. At puberty, the male body produces significantly more testosterone – men have longer and more dense bones, more muscle tissue, more hemoglobin – the things that matter in sport – giving them 8% to 20% sport performance advantages. Thus, Title IX’s original purpose must be retained – that in order for biological females (a medical term) or cis girls/women (a gender identity term) to have a fair competitive (not recreational) sport experience equal to that of biological males/cis boys/men, separate sex (biological sex) sport must continue to be legally protected.
2. We believe that there are policy and sport competition and/or scoring solutions that can and should include all transgender, non-binary and gender-fluid girls/women under the women’s sports umbrella — even if they choose not to change their bodies and keep their testosterone-based sport performance advantages. Trans girls/women are individuals who make different decisions about whether and when to change their bodies and should be fully supported with regard to their rights to do so. To have fair competition, women’s sport structures should be adapted to acknowledge and respect these differences:
- All trans girls/women who do not experience male puberty should be permitted to compete in women’s sports without conditions or restrictions. And trans boys/men who do not take male-affirming hormones should be welcome.
- All girls/women who begin puberty but then choose to mitigate their testosterone advantage should be allowed to participate without conditions consistent with USOPC and IOC/international sport federation rules that may differ according to sport and event. We also recognize that some sports require no mitigation (i.e., equestrian, sailing, etc.)
- All girls/women who begin puberty and who do not wish to mitigate or insufficiently mitigate their male sex-linked advantages should be separately scored if they compete with women (i.e., high jump or weight throws events, golf, etc.) or in separate events (no head-to-head competition vs. bio-females/ciswomen) – again, depending on sport and event.
3. We also believe that because sport is embedded in our American educational system, which is an important developmental and training space open to all children and young adults from all backgrounds and financial means, that is also an important entry into our U.S. national team system, that eligibility rules for women’s interscholastic and intercollegiate sports should be consistent with those of the USOPC Olympic development programs which in turn must be consistent with IOC and international sport federation standards.
4. We believe the fair inclusion of all LGBTQ girls and women in women’s sport is an important social justice value. Ninety-five percent of the competitive sport experience is training and social construction — being a part of a team. Surely during the short periods of time when actual competition is conducted, all can respect and understand the need for separate scoring or events for girls/women with testosterone advantage in the name of fair competition. We must both respect and celebrate the amazing diversity of LBGTQ individuals and have fair contests that do not disadvantage bio-females/ciswomen.
The Drake Group also applauds the leadership of the NCAA Board of Governors for recently recommitting to its ten years of aligning collegiate women’s sports eligibility policies with IOC and USOPC standards and insisting that, when determining where its championships are held, that locations selected must be safe, healthy and free of discrimination for all athletes.
Last, because The Drake Group recognizes the complicated intersection among competitive women’s sport, science, and social justice, it urges members of the public and lawmakers to educate themselves about gender identity, the different choices of transgender, non-binary and gender-fluid individuals with regard to changing their bodies, and the science related to sports performance differences between biological males and females.