The inclusion of male-born trans people into female sporting competition is just one area where women are undoubtedly losing out. Bringing male-competitive advantage into the female game threatens the future of women’s sports.
Thirty-three-year-old, 6′ 3″ tall Brazilian volleyball player Tifanny Abreu is expected to be one of the first male-born transgender athletes competing in the Olympics at Tokyo 2020.
New rules set by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in 2016 now allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sport if they can show their Testosterone levels are below the arbitrary level of 10nM for 12 months. Surgery is not required. 10nM is below the average male Testosterone range (average 23nM) but above the female average of 2.6nM.
There is currently no robust scientific evidence to show that lowering Testosterone is sufficient to fully eliminate the male competitive advantage brought to female sport by male-born transgender athletes.”
Abreu started playing men’s volleyball at age 17 as Rodrigo Abreu, competing at men’s professional league level. After starting to identify as a women in 2012 and changing names to Tifanny, Abreu started playing in the women’s professional league in 2017. In less that a month, Abreu was scoring the highest number of points a game on average and then beat the record set by one of Brazil’s Olympic stars, Tandara Caixeta, for total points scored in a single game: 39.
Few elite athletes speak up about the obvious unfairness and adverse impact on female sportswomen. However, 4 times Olympian for Brazilian Volleyball and bronze medal winner Ana Paula Henkel (now Connelly) has bravely spoken up and written a powerful open letter to the IOC.
Open Letter to the International Olympic Committee
It is with respect but much concern that I write, to all entities responsible for sport, about the threat to the virtue of women’s competitions that now occurs with the acceptance of athletes that were born men, developed muscle mass, bone mass, lung and air capacity as men, in forms of sport created and formatted specifically for women. If someone has to go public and pay a price in the name of truth, common sense and fact, I’m willing to bear the consequences. The space, won with integrity by women in sport is at play.
The truth most obvious and most respected by all who are involved in sport is the biological difference between men and women. If this weren’t the case why the need to to establish categories separated by sex? Why is the men’s volley net set at 2.43m height and the women’s at 2.24m? A good sense superficial analysis of men and women’s physical traits in basketball is, enough to understand these categories are not interchangeable.
Is it fair, to simply pretend away these undeniable biological differences in the name of a political ideology which will serve to restrict a space so hard won by women who struggled for it for so many centuries? How to accept “biological” men in fighting competitions, pitilessly hitting women, and then gaining acclaim, medals and money for it? Have we all gone so crazy as to permit such degradation? “It’s a great difference and we feel impotent”
The voices of sports people, in general, and women volleyball players, in particular, are being stifled. Many don’t express their indignation for the total lack of protection by sports entities aiding and abetting this nonsense. “It’s a great difference and we feel impotent”, said Juliana Fillipeli, player for Pinheiros volley team, as she saw Tifanny Abreu, ex-Rodrigo, win against her team and, once again, beat the points record in that final. Tifanny, who played in Brazil’s men’s Super League as Rodrigo, is, in a very few games, now the highest scoring player in the women’s Super League, leaving an Olympic champion and one of the best players in Brazil and the world, Tandara, behind.
Transexuals’ inclusion in society needs to be accepted, but this rushed and heedless decision to include biological men, born and built with testosterone, with their height, their strength and aerobic capacity of men, is beyond the sphere of tolerance. It represses, embarrasses, humiliates and excludes women.
We currently look on as sporting entities blind themselves to human biology, in an attempt to hoodwink science in the name of politico-ideological agendas. We currently look on a moral perversion against women and the complicity of sport authorities around the world in a supreme form of misogyny. A declaration of good intentions, on the part of entities responsible for protecting scrupulous and correct sport, is not sufficient to justify such sizeable absurdity.