June 2nd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The Greens: the political equivalent of bilgewater

EDITORIAL Malaysian election sends shockwaves across South-East Asia

GENDER AND SPORT Transgender playing in women's football league gains attention

CANBERRA OBSERVED Beyond tomorrow a bridge too far for politicians to plan

ENERGY Why renewables destabilise the power grid

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions: at issue with Dr Zimmermann

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Two to tango: Where to now for U.S. and China?

LIFE ISSUES So, is this not pro-life?

POLITICS AND CULTURE The West won the world but may lose its soul

MILITARY BIOGRAPHY Commanders: the men who resolve questions of life and death

HUMOUR

MUSIC Eurovision: Wailing and gnashing of teeth

CINEMA Superhero movies: A Chestertonian consideration

BOOK REVIEW A man for all seasons and hemispheres

BOOK REVIEW Mid-century gem of Catholic fiction

POETRY

LETTERS

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

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GENDER AND SPORT
Transgender playing in women's football league gains attention


by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, June 2, 2018

The AFL decision to let a trans male-to-female play in the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) competition has created considerable controversy.

  • Hannah Mouncey is a 100-kilogram male-to-female
  • Fellow players in the women’s league fear to speak out for fear of being labelled “bigots”
  • Studies find differences between the sexes present at all levels, from bone to muscle to heart

Hannah Mouncey is a 100-kilogram male-to-female who had played with the men’s national handball team, before starting transitioning treatments two years ago.

After playing in the Canberra women’s league in 2017, Mouncey’s application for the elite AFL Women’s (AFLW) draft was refused. The League cited the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, which said that a refusal could be maintained “if strength, stamina or physique is relevant”.

However, in February this year, the AFL granted Mouncey’s request to play in state leagues like the VFLW, but not the AFLW. Mouncey debuted for the Darebin club in early May.

Chris Judd

The AFL includes transgenders in its National Sexuality and Pregnancy Guidelines 2013. The Guidelines say: “There is debate over whether a male-to-female transgender person obtains any physical advantage over other female participants … Members must facilitate the participation by transgender persons in Australian Football with the gender with which they identify.”

Chis Judd – now a sports commentator after having captained the West Coast Eagles and Carlton in the Australian Football League (AFL) – supported the decision to refuse Mouncey’s application to play in the AFLW, saying that he only made up his mind after talking to six female players.

Five “felt strongly that transgender athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete in the AFLW or VFLW”. All six were reluctant to speak publicly for fear of being “labelled bigots”.

Judd said that he understood that the decision may be regarded as “unfair”, but “if the policy were to be reversed, it would be unfair on other AFLW players”.

He went on to say: “We should continually look to make society as fair as practically possible, but the idea that the world will ever be a completely just place, while ideologically sound, is fanciful. People with unsymmetrical faces will never become models, short people don’t play in the NBA and on the more extreme side of it, anyone born in Syria would be only too aware of just how unfair life can be.

“… if we’ve become a society where people can’t have adult conversations around sensitive topics and remain open to other points of view, we’ll have plenty of bigger problems to deal with in the future.”

Scientific research

The question of fairness for women athletes was underscored by research from Thaibault et al. in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine in 2010.

Their study analysed 82 quantifiable events since the beginning of the Olympic era. For each event in swimming, athletics, track cycling, weightlifting and speed skating, the gap between men and women was fitted to compare male and female records.

Overall, the study observed a gap in world records “after 1983, at a mean difference of 10.0 per cent ± 2.94 between men and women for all events … [t]he gap ranges from 5.5 per cent (800-metre freestyle swimming) to 36.8 per cent (weightlifting).”

The study concluded: “Results suggest that women will not run, jump, swim or ride as fast as [biological] men.”

Chris Schwirian, a lecturer in Biological Sciences at Ohio University since 1966, has been involved in the physiological testing of athletes, men and women, including runners, cyclists, swimmers, and rowers at almost every level of competition.

Writing in 2014, Schwirian said: “Faster men’s times for 100 to 800 metres are mostly due to men, on average, having greater muscle mass – and a larger portion of it is fast-twitch [muscle], which allows them to generate greater force, speed, and anaerobically produced energy.

“At all distances beyond 800 metres, the main reason for the gap is men’s higher aerobic capacity [VO2max], on average, which is due to their typically having less body fat, more haemoglobin and muscle mass, and larger hearts and lungs than women.”

Mechanical advantage

Furthermore, men have a mechanical advantage over women. Men have bigger, stronger and denser bones. Their legs are longer and straighter and attach to the knees at a different angle. The shoulder and elbow joints are also differently arranged, and the ligaments that hold the skeleton together are far stronger in men – which is why women are more flexible.

Endocrinologists estimate that it would take 15 years of hormone suppression in addition to surgery to see any significant changes in bone density for a transgender male-to-female.

And the Olympics

The issue of male-to-females in the women’s Olympic competitions has also been controversial. In 2003 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that sex-reassignment surgery for trans male-to-females would be required in order for them to be eligible to participate as women.

In 2015, the IOC repealed the sex-reassignment surgery rule, but required that a trans male had to lower their testosterone levels below a certain level.

Recently, the IOC said that new rules would be announced in a few months for the 2020 Olympics, which is likely to reignite controversy.

Patrick J. Byrne is national president of the National Civic Council.




























All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99


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