Does Biden's Executive Order Disempower Female Athletes?
By Courtenay Turner
In High School I was the only girl willing to run the two-mile race. Girls and boys ran together, but they were scored separately. I was a very slow albeit determined athlete. I’ll save you the stories of my personal athletic journey, only to say I had the opportunity to compete because despite being the last runner to finish, I scored first place being the only female in the race. I competed at a time where the biological differences between sexes were acknowledged and yet females were afforded under Title IX opportunities that had long been granted to males.
Congress enacted Title IX with two principal objectives in mind: to avoid the use of federal resources to support discriminatory practices in education programs, and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices. See Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 704 (1979).
Selina Soule and two other athletes who competed at the elite level, filed a complaint saying that the Connecticut policy permitting transgenders born as biologically male competing against females limits their dreams and pursuits of scholarships, opportunities, and recruitments. The Trump administration’s Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education ruled that Connecticut’s policies violated the rights of girls in the state guaranteed under Title IX. Biden’s recent executive order made this nation-wide.
Women historically have competed separately, due to biological differences that typically provide men with significant advantages in sports, such as absolute strength, acceleration, power and speed.
(Here’s an inconclusive list of some pertinent biological differences)
Bone / Ligament Structure:
Male athletes have longer and larger bones. Having increased articular surface and larger bones provides increased leverages and a wider frame to support muscle. Similarly, the ligaments of female athletes are generally more lax and fragile than those of their male counterparts. This gives male athletes an advantage in sports that involve throwing, kicking and hitting, and explains the higher incidence of musculoskeletal injuries among female athletes. On the other hand, female athletes have a wider pelvis and a lower center of gravity, which provides excellent balance.
Since maximum capacity oxygen consumption is directly related to body size, elite male athletes have a higher VO2max, which measures their capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise allowing them to reach their maximum training peak earlier. It may also be in part a result of women’s lower hemoglobin levels.
Male athletes have a higher ratio of muscle mass to body weight, which allows for greater speed and acceleration. Men produce more Type Two muscle fibers (fast-twitch muscles) than they do Type One muscle fibers (slow-twitch), which gives men more power than women and helps make men stronger and faster. Women produce an equal amount of Type One and Type Two, which helps women have more endurance and quicker recovery times.
Women produce more estrogen than men do, which leads to higher body fat and less lean muscle.
Women produce more progesterone. Progesterone is catabolic, meaning it burns fat and muscle tissue.
Testosterone enables men to develop larger skeletal muscles as well as larger hearts. Testosterone also increases the production of red blood cells, which absorb oxygen, giving men an even greater aerobic advantage, reports “New York Times” writer Gina Kolata, in an interview with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, an exercise researcher at McMaster University in Ontario.
Women are more prone to injuring joints such as the shoulders and knees. Weaker shoulder muscles and looser supporting tissues mean the joint is less stable than in men, reports writer Michael Lasalandra, in an interview with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sports medicine physician Bridget Quinn. Also, the injury rate to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, a major knee ligament, is significantly higher in female athletes, than in their male counterparts. By proper training and strengthening of supporting muscles, women can prevent such injuries.
Ostensibly in efforts to promote transgender rights, Biden’s executive order neglects some biologically rooted facts, that raise concerns. Perhaps there’s another solution where transgender individuals could compete amongst each other without compromising the opportunities for female athletes?
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