Testosterone And Sports

A reader writes:

Regarding your reply to the trans woman's dissent about Sports and Gender. Yes, actually surgery does matter. No testicles means no production of testosterone, and that in turn means that male-to-female transsexuals' upper body strength ends up decreasing to levels equivalent to that of those who were born female. Even just going on estrogen before surgery will cause significant loss of upper body strength. All of this is well documented in the medical literature and well known by both medical professionals who treat transsexuals (for example, see this PowerPoint) and by trans people themselves (who might just know a little more than you about the effects of hormones and surgery).

Testosterone does have some permanent effects -- creating a heavier brow ridge, deepening the voice, causing facial hair (which has to be removed by scores of hours of electrolysis -- remember that the next time someone implies transexuality is a "lifestyle choice") -- but greater muscle mass isn't one of them. Which is why the Olympics and other sporting organizations allow male-to-female transsexuals who are two years post surgery to compete as women, since they've found that they don't have any physical advantage.

I'm grateful for the info. I'll note merely the tone. If the trans community really does want to help educate, inform and guide public policy, as they should, a little less fury, derision and anger might help. Especially with respect to people generally deeply sympathetic.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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