Do trans girl athletes have an advantage? [Moderated title for clarity]

As everyone has heard, some Republican states have prohibited transgender boys from competing in girls sports in grade and high schools. (I don’t know if this covers collage). Is there any evidence they would have an advantage especially before puberty? Or would it depend entirely on the sport? Women’s wrestling anyone? Would it depend on how long they had been taking hormones or whether or not they had their naughty bits cut off?

This thread is going to go swimmingly, is my prediction.

Anyway, I think you have it wrong – the laws prevent transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports. In fact, there was a situation in Texas, maybe?, where a transgender boy was forced to compete with the girls even though he wanted to compete with the boys.

My understanding is that it depends on the sport and on how long the athlete has been taking hormones.

According to this paper, which I admit I did not read or understand completely, prepubescent boys scored higher across the board except for balance and flexibility, with the greatest difference in “explosive” upper and lower body strength. Overall physical activity and body fat was not found to be a significant factor.

Modnote: Please keep this thread on the subject of transgender girl athletes competing in girls’ sports.

Please keep in mind the new guidance on transgender issues on the SDMB.

So don’t be insulting and don’t bring up other transgender issues. Keep on topic please.

For future reference, the laws are prohibiting transgender girls from competing in girls sports. I don’t believe they even cover transgender boys from doing so.

A transgender girl is a girl that began life biologically as a boy.
Slightly more formally: A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth.

I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but even before puberty I was running faster than girls my age or older than me. I would surmise that pre-pubescent boys do still have some athletic advantage over girls.

Swimming is a useful sport to look at since boys/girls practice together and compete in all the same events. There are many swim leagues which have ages from 6 to 18 and you can view the results to see how the genders compare to each other. The times for ages 10 and under are pretty much comparable between boys and girls. Over 10 is where you begin to see some separation in the times. At the 17-18 range, the time for the 1st place girl may be somewhere in the 5th-8th place of the same boy’s event.

So likely sports where the athletes compete side-by-side would be pretty even before puberty. Contact sports like wrestling will be more problematic since gender differences in aggression may play a factor. Ages 11 and above will have more significant differences between the genders.

There are non-athletic competitions where boys on average have an advantage over girls (chess, for example), so puberty/hormones may not be the controlling factor.

Possible the difference is entirely cultural, and possible it’s not. My understanding is that on many measured traits, men have greater variation than women, which includes greater representation at both extremes of the curve, although I don’t know how solid the science is on that, or whether it extends to pre-pubescent boys and girls.

What_Exit – I think you contradicted yourself here I think, anyway I was talking about boys trying to transition to girls not girls trans to boys. But you raise an interesting question. Are girls ----> boys at an advantage in girls sports? And could they be competitive in boys sports? Maybe this whole thing is too confusing to think about!

Fairly sure collage is not considered a sport. Arts and craft surely.

Someone who was assigned male at birth and transitions is a transgender girl or woman. So the people you referred to in your OP are trans girls, not trans boys.

The Olympics have allowed transgender people to compete as long as they have been on hormones for two years and do not have an abnormally high testosterone level, and have not had any issues (before this year, a transgender man was the one who got closest to qualifying).

Most prepubescent sports aren’t separated by gender anyway. High school is the only level where I have any concern about what sports transgender people who haven’t medically transitioned may have an unfair advantage in.

I think the base premise is complete and total BS. The thinking being that there are some boys/men out there that are not good enough at male sports, that will transition to female so as to have a competitive advantage in female sports.

And that there are thousands of transwomen planning to outcompete all the women sports participants out there. Therefore, it will wreck female sports thru high school for the millions of born female and competing as female athletes, and by extension, throw a whole monkey wrench into female professional sports.

Like Federer might be tempted to be the first #1 male then transition to become the #1 female tennis champion.

Parent of a trans-son. He’s transitioning to save his life, not to unfairly compete against boys.


Well it seems the answer to the latter is still currently “not commonly” and that’s why I have to take an unpleasant position on this issue…

I mean, I am most definitely pro-trans, and I feel that trans issues have been blown up by conservatives in the US for purely political reasons – it’s a popular flavor of bigotry / ignorance. I frequently make efforts to push back against this ignorance.

However, I also don’t think that the science of gender transitioning is mature enough that there are no issues with transitioning and competing in gender segregated sports. ISTM that the proportion of male → female trans that are able to compete in sports at the top level is currently much higher than female → male, and that implies that the science has a way to go before things are entirely fair.

And it’s important to keep in mind that transitioning doesn’t have to be part of gender identity. If someone identifies as a man or woman, then they are a man or woman. No further medical procedures are necessary. If they don’t want to get stuff cut off or take hormones, they don’t have to. And for most parts of daily life it’s irrelevant if someone actually medically transitions or not. However, sports are one of the few areas where the degree of medical transitioning can have significant consequences in ability and performance. Someone who transitions young and takes hormones may have athletic performance that’s indistinguishable from any other athlete in that gender. But someone who changes their gender identity late and doesn’t do any medical transitioning will retain their original performance.

So for something like tennis, likely any man ranked higher than 300-400 would take the #1 spot on the women’s side. They would go from making tens of thousands of dollars a year to making millions. And they wouldn’t necessarily be doing it just for the money. In the top 300, 600, or 1000 mens players, there are likely going to be some who have gender identity issues and may come out as women at some point. They are sincerely women just like all the other transgender people who identify as women. But then it gets more complicated to say that even though they are women, they have to undergo medical procedures to compete in a women’s event that other women don’t have to.

Just as an example, the girls’ national record in the 3200m(2 mile) run is 9:47.88. As listed on, 391 boys in California(2019) alone beat that time. (The times are listed by schools that have joined the site but I don’t know how many schools aren’t members.)

You’re the first person in the thread to bring up the subject of anyone transitioning from male to female in order to gain a competitive edge. I don’t think that’s what this thread is about but that doesn’t mean there might not be advantage for such individuals. Unfortunately it is a difficult subject to discuss in large part because a significant segment of the population want to use this issue as a club against transgender girls (fewer people seem to care about transgender boys for some reason) and aren’t interested in an honest discussion.

Then there was the case of a cis-woman found to have had too high a testosterone level to be allowed to compete in women’s sports unless she took hormone reducing therapy. This is madness. Suppose someone objected to a person competing in the 100 meter dash because, owing to a genetic quirk they had too high a level of fast twitch muscles. Or basketball players over 7’. I don’t usually buy slippery slope arguments, but this issue has already slipped a ways.