In an article over the weekend interviewing numerous people involved in the debate about whether biological men should be allowed to compete against biological women, the Times included a section acknowledging the biological advantages men have over women. The Times included the information under a subhead title, “The Debate Over the Science,” but the section offers little debate.
“Beginning in the womb, men are bathed in testosterone and puberty accelerates that. Men on average have broader shoulders, bigger hands and longer torsos, and greater lung and heart capacity. Muscles are denser,” the Times acknowledged while speaking to Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Joyner, who “studies the physiology of male and female athletes,” according to the Times, told the outlet that the testosterone surge men receive during puberty eliminates any advantage women had by growing faster than boys leading up to puberty.
“You see the divergence immediately as the testosterone surges into the boys,” Joyner told the Times. “There are dramatic differences in performances.”
The Times then confirmed this information by noting that “records for elite adult male swimmers are on average 10 percent to 12 percent faster than the records of elite female swimmers, an advantage that has held for decades.”
The reason is due to the factors listed above: broader shoulders, denser muscles, bigger lung and heart capacity, etc.
“There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it,” Joyner told the outlet. “Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla.”
The Times also pointed out that peer-reviewed studies show that even if men suppress their testosterone for a year, per NCAA rules in order to compete again biological women, they still “retain a substantial edge.”
This is proven by the fact that biological men who enter women’s sports substantially increase their rankings. For example, the Times noted that University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who competed as a biological man for years before identifying as a transgender woman and entering women’s competitions, ranked 32nd in the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle. Once Thomas started competing in women’s competitions, the swimmer ranked 8th and even won a race by a whopping 38 seconds. In the men’s 200-yard freestyle, Thomas ranked 554th, but in 2022, competing against women, Thomas placed 5th in the NCAA championship. Thomas ranked 65th in the men’s 500-yard freestyle. Competing against women, Thomas won the race.
“Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence,” Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist, told the Times. “The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage.”
Further, the Times noted that “most scientists… view performance differences between elite male and female athletes as near immutable,” citing Israeli physicist Ira S. Hammerman, who in 2010 found the obvious: women’s world record times are 10% slower than men’s world record times.
Even some transgender athletes acknowledge the unfair advantage, the Times noted. Renée Richards played tennis as a man and ranked 13th in the men’s 35-and-over division before transitioning to a woman in 1975 at the age of 41. At age 43, Richards joined the women’s pro tennis tour and was able to compete in the doubles final at Wimbledon. Richards retired at age 47, ranked 19th in the world. Richards admitted that being a biological male provided the advantage.
“I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me,” Richards told Slate in 2012. “I’ve reconsidered my opinion.”