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NYT science reporter dives into the plight of elite athletes like Lia Thomas who have been subjected to 'chromosomal scrutiny'

Penn swimmer Lia Thomas continues to break barriers and redefine what a woman swimmer is capable of. Mainly because she’s biologically male.

Thomas recently won another race and broke another record and is the Ivy League Champion.


But for some reason, despite all of her achievements, Lia Thomas has been subjected to quite a bit of criticism. It seems there are people out there who have a problem with men competing against women in women’s sports. Go figure!

But as New York Times science reporter Azeen Ghorayshi points out, that sort of pushback just comes with the territory for trans women athletes. It’s part of the cross that athletes like Lia Thomas have to bear for having a Y chromosome:

Why were they winning, Azeen?


But seriously, though. Anatomy matters. Hormones matter. And yes, chromosomes matter.


Sorry, Azeem, but all that stuff matters. Science says so.

As Ghorayshi fairly points out, there have been cases of biological females whose bodies secrete considerably more testosterone than most women’s, or of biological females with unusual sex chromosomal abnormalities. But those cases are extremely rare and are very different from cases in which a male athlete elects to chemically transition to become a trans female.

More from Ghorayshi:

Transgender women may have a disadvantage in some sports, given their heavier musculature, said Dr. James Barrett, the director of the Adult Gender Identity Clinic in London, who is helping lead a study for the I.O.C. that looks at how much athletic ability decreases in transgender women after they start hormone therapy.

“Trans women by and large aren’t winning across the board,” he said. “It’s not obvious that there’s necessarily an advantage at all.”

Still, because of development during puberty, transgender athletes may have some lasting physical advantages in a sport like swimming, such as a taller height and larger hands and feet. Coming up with a policy for sex-segregated sports therefore requires making a choice: Either exclude these athletes, or allow them to compete with potential advantages, said Jakob Vingren, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Texas.


Note to Dr. James Barrett: it’s actually quite obvious that elite trans female athletes frequently have multiple advantages over elite biologically female athletes.

And we agree with Jakob Vindgren that sex-segregated sports require choosing between excluding trans athletes or allowing them to compete. Personally, we vote for the former.

We’re just following the science. The actual science.

Just FYI, if you’re inclined to respond directly to Ghorayshi’s tweet and article, you’re gonna have to do it via quote retweet:

Probably because the science is settled as far as she’s concerned.


Especially for a science journalist.

Never fails.

Unfortunately, Azeem Ghorayshi’s position actually has legs. And those legs will likely wind up somewhere we really don’t want to be.

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