Navratilova, Hogshead-Makar Slam ‘Ignorant’ Notion That Thomas’ Male Body ‘Not The Problem’

2024-02-07 No comments Reading Time: 4 minutes
Male advantage
Male advantage is real in swimming ... and an Open category is on the way - image, cartoonized photo by Patrick B. Kraemer

When tennis legend Martina Navratilova this week tweeted her disdain of a beyond-“really ignorant” Forbes feature suggesting Lia Thomas‘ male body was “not the problem”, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, advocate for civil rights, women’s rights and the rights of athletes to work in safe, healthy and holistic environments, was among the leading figures hitting back with a rebuttal of unscientific gibberish.

Hogshead-Makar’s conclusion to a long X thread of repeated insight sums up the wearying nature of being forced to fight against male colonialisation of female spaces and races: ” I’m exhausted. I could keep going, but this article repetitively downplays real biological sex differences that are determinative in sport, as a way to address sexism, misogyny and male dominance. Allowing men in women’s sports & spaces doesn’t do this for women… it only makes our plight worse.”

As Navratilova put it: “I have seen some really ignorant pieces before, but I do believe this one takes the cake. The body is the whole effing issue – not the outside but the inside! How one looks is totally irrelevant”.

The offending article, penned by Susan M. Shaw, a women & gender studies professor at Oregon State University, ran under the headline “Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas’ Body Is Not The Problem”.

Actually, in swimming, Thomas’s male body is the very core of the problem in the legal challenge the transgender athlete is pursuing against World Aquatics and rules that exclude anyone who experienced male puberty (Tanner Stage 2) from competing against females in the women’s category.

The rule reinforces other sports legislation in place for decades, including those obliging all members of World Aquatics to comply with equality and fair play rules.

Human development biology and other science confirming the reality of male and female differences are among reasons why “Men” and “Women” have been the sex-based [not gender-identity but biological sex and never meant to be interpreted any other way] entrance gates to elite sport for longer than anyone alive today has been around drawing breath.

Then there’s more than a century of Olympic, World, continental and domestic sports results demonstrate quite clearly that 14–15 years old boys and athletically mediocre mature males would beat the very best of female Olympic champions and world record holders in swimming and many others sports

If you doubt it, have a peek at boysvwomen. There is no doubt.

And the reason why sports are sex-based transcends the puberty line drawn in the rules and protections for female athletes that Thomas wants to torch, according to research bolstered by the latest contribution from Greg A. Brown, of the Physical Activity and Wellness Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Sports Science, University of Nebraska at Kearney in the USA.

In their paper, Dr. Brown and team highlight the reality of male advantage over females that has already taken place in 8-9-year-old boys in competition:

Sex‐based differences in track running distances of 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500m in the 8 and under and 9–10‐year‐old age groupsEuropean Journal of Sport Science (Original Paper at Wiley)

Dr. Brown concludes:

“… although some have stated that sex-based differences in athletic performance do not arise until puberty, the present data indicate that in the 8 and under and 9–10-year-old age groups males run faster than females in distances of 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500m.

While some females in these age groups are faster than some males, the average male finalists are faster than the average female finalists, and the fastest males are faster than the fastest females.

As running is a key component of many sports, these sex-based differences between prepubertal males and females should be considered when sport governing bodies and policy makers consider the issue of sex-based sporting categories.”

Brown, Shaw and Shaw, 2024 – Graphic from their paper shared extensively on X: a comparison of finish times in the 100m and 200m for youth 8 & under, and 9-10 – showing how males are consistently faster

It’s worth reading and even re-reading a pinned tweet and thread of Dr. Brown’s from March 2023 in which he notes that CNN had stated that the World Athletics policy on transwomen, which followed the pathway of World Aquatics rules agreed in June 2022, did not align with mainstream science. CNN cited a single paper from 2017.

Here’s Dr. Brown’s rebuttal, which takes a flamethrower to the CNN take on the issue:

And here’s a reminder of tennis legend Navratilova’s decisive rebuttal of the nonsense at the very heart of arguments put forward ion the Forbes article and by Thomas and those who want female athletes to move over and make way for biological males to muscle in on women’s medals, money and the status and lifetime of opportunities that flow from success in sport – and refuse to acknowledge that there is just one reason why an athlete can rocket up the rankings from mediocre male outside the pace of the best few thousand in a particular event to beat three Olympic silver medallists in women’s competition: sex.

The Female Fight In Face Of Leadership Drought

Hogshead-Makar, the triple Olympic champion turned lawyer, responded in the only way women can in the face of poor leadership far and wide in sport, including the role played by the International Olympic Committee, which could have drawn a sex-based red-line and shown its understanding of sport and the nature of sport in its highly criticised and questioned original and updated guidance on ‘inclusion’ to international federations.

Sponsors, the gender industry, politicians ignoring existing legal sex-based provisions for women and weak sports authorities out of touch with the very realm they govern are all in the mix when the kind of crisis like that RipCurl invited into its surf world of late unfolds and women are forced to fight all over again for what was fought for an established by other women generations ago:

Rebuttal after rebuttal has become a daily shore for female athletes and the community of scientists and others advocating for them. Here is Hogshead-Makar’s latest excellent contribution in response to the notion that Thomas’ body is “not the problem”, when quite clearly it is:

Male Advantage: All Too Undeniably Real & Irreversible

Nancy Hogshead-Makar’s Thread, the link and the thread in full:

Why A Female Athlete Should Be Your Next Leader (Ed: but not if they’ve already been assimilated into the in-house machine of sports governance)


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