April 3, 2020

How to solve the transgender problem in sports

How to ensure fairness in basketball

I have been thinking about fairness in sports a lot. That is the kind of person I am.

The average height of men in the US is 175 centimeters. In basketball it would be only fair to ban those over 175 centimeters, as extra tall men have an unjust advantage compared to the others.

However, since the men that are 175 centimeters have a natural advantage over those that are 170 centimeters tall, we need to ban everyone between 170 to 175 cm as well. But this will leave the ones that are 170 cm heigh having an unfair advantage over those that are 160 cm, and so on and so forth, which leads me to conclude that the best  kind of basketball is the one where every participant is exactly one meter tall.

At this point we will also ban everyone who is below one meter, because you have to draw the line somewhere, right?

In Norway the average height of men is close to 180 cm. The average Sri Lankian man is 165 cm. The one meter rule will make sure that all international basketball games are fair. Err on the side of caution, I say.

(I am sure my American friends will find the use of the metric system here a little bit bewildering. Remember, though, that 1 meter is 3.28084 feet. I think we all can agree that it easier to remember 1 meter than 3.28084 feet.)

The transgender problem in sports

My approach will also solve the "transgender problem" in sports. Not that there is a problem, mind you, since transgender women are not in any way dominating female sports. Nor do transgender men have a natural advantage over cisgender men.

But some people think there is a problem, which is why I propose that we equalize the hormone field as well.

Equalize testosterone levels

In general, the normal range in males is about 270-1070 ng/dL (nanogram per deciliter blood – you have to love the metric system!) with an average level of 679 ng/dL.

It therefore makes sense to only allow men with 679 ng/dL to compete.  In this way the ones with higher levels will not gain any competitive advantage and the ones with lower levels will not get their feelings hurt.

The average testosterone levels found in women is 17 to 70 nanograms. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the real average is around 45. We can ban all female competitors, cis and trans, over and under this level.

Equalize everything!

We can actually do this for all important variables: stamina, muscle strength, personality, hair color and shoe sizes, making sure that all sports finally become fair.

We will also have to reset all historical rankings, as it would be unfair to compare the results of our perfectly average athletes with the athletes of the past.

Here's the truly brilliant part of my plan: We can use competitions to identify variables that creates unfairness. If any of our perfectly average athletes perform better than the others, those are actually not perfectly average. They have an unfair advantage, and we can use science to identify what that advantage is (as in perfect skin reducing air drag).

In the end we will be left with only one perfect athlete who can compete with themselves.

I am sure some of you will argue that all of this will get pretty boring. Keep in mind, though, that this is all about fairness. Sports is not about having fun.

Illustration based on drawing by Aleksey Martynyuk.

See also: Transgender people in sports: The data doesn’t match the claims that they shouldn’t compete


  1. Seems legit. ;-)

    Could we also average the salary situation to sports too? Maybe putting it in to schools, health care, social care, research, or basic income, etc?

    No? I'll get my coat. :-)

  2. Jack, well thought out—but...

    I think this controversy, as with public restrooms, hinges on acknowledgement that trans women are in fact women. If so your argument hits the nail on the head. But then your argument wouldn't be needed, right?

    I admit that I struggle about whether I'm truly a woman. I know I'm not a man. Everyone I run into at stores and on the street genders me as female. Even a man that yelled at me yesterday "F**king white bitch!" several times. Recently at a lumber store I needed to have some plywood sawn so I could fit the pieces in my car. The young man kindly advised that I step back: "The saw is very loud and might upset you."

    All of my friends are women (mostly lesbian) and I've talked with them about my existential pondering. Individually and in groups they've all assured me that although they know I'm trans they don't think of me as anything other than a woman. So why do I think about this?

    I think it comes down to having struggled with my shame for so long it's those feelings are very strong and ingrained.

    But here's the thing: I personally know several trans girls and boys who've lived in their authentic gender since early childhood. These kids are unequivocally authentic and except for their biological/physical challenges they have no doubt about who they are. I envy them!

    "Common knowledge" takes time and effort to be replaced with truth. The earth isn't flat nor is at the center of the universe.

    And so the fight goes on. The highest priority here in the US is our Fall election. We must actively and vulnerably be part of making that change.

  3. //Could we also average the salary situation to sports too?//

    Well, I was thinking about removing the gender divide all together and let women, men and nonbinary people compete together, which would work well for all dimensions EXCEPT the hormone one.

    But the same salaries? What kind of a subversive, radical, suggestion is this? We need some ways to distinguish between men and women! ;)

  4. //I admit that I struggle about whether I'm truly a woman.//

    A person who have gone through everything you have to be able to experience and express their gender is definitely a woman. I don't think your womanhood depends on the affirmation of others (although that affirmation is important and good.).

    As I see it there is so much diversity among women as regards personality, life styles, cultural backgrounds, physique, interests, abilities and so on and so forth, that there is more than enough room for transgender women.

  5. //A person who have gone through everything you have to be able to experience and express their gender is definitely a woman.//

    I agree, Jack! For me, it seems that this increasing awareness is the last part of my transition.

    Please give my best to Sally, and take good care. Oh, and please keep writing!

  6. This is neither insightful nor clever nor well thought out.

    In sports for which size is very significant, such as boxing and wrestling, there are already many weight classes restricting competitors to being within a few pounds of each other (until you get to the biggest classes). For professional boxing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weight_class_(boxing)#Professional_boxing

    In basketball, there already exist recreational leagues for players below 6 feet or so. Still, Allen Iverson, six feet tall, was the top scorer in four NBA seasons and holds the 7th best NBA scoring average ever. There have been other notable NBA players even shorter. As much as height matters in basketball, it's nowhere close to the gap between men and women in any sport based on physical ability. For instance, in track and field, many high school boys every year surpass the women's world record in any event in which both compete.

    The gap between men and women in any physical sport is probably bigger than between any other two major groups of adults. It's certainly bigger than that between men and high school boys. Most of that advantage is due to typical male vs. typical female levels of testosterone. As they say, it's a hell of a drug.

    The only thing that allowing competition in women's sports based purely on self-identification can accomplish is replacing the top level of them with pre-transition transwomen and people with high-testosterone intersex conditions -- that is, those who have the large advantage that testosterone gives men over women.


Click here for this blog's Code of Conduct!

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!