A wide-ranging study from the United Kingdom concluded that transgender female athletes — i.e., biological males who identify as female — do have physical advantages over biological female competitors when "being bigger, stronger, fitter, and faster" makes a difference.
That said, the study also said an option to keep things fair could be creating "open" competition categories in order to include transgender female athletes, the study's guidance said.
What are the details?
The study — under the auspices of UK Sport, among other organizations — found that some sports are "gender-affected" and some sports are not. Sports that are not gender-affected include darts, curling, shooting, and equestrian, the study said.
Gender-affected sports that "rely significantly on physical capacity – physique (including height), strength, stamina" include rowing, volleyball, and climbing, the study said.
Other gender-related considerations involve competition safety — specifically whether particular sports involve contact (basketball), collision (rugby), or combat (boxing, martial arts).
In general, the study said if a sport is not gender-affected, a participant's gender identity is not crucial in terms of creating an advantage over other competitors.
But it's a different story in gender-affected sports, as transgender women likely will have advantages, the study said.
"Transgender women are on average likely to retain physical advantage in terms of physique, stamina, and strength," the study added. "Such physical differences will also impact safety parameters in sports which are combat, collision or contact in nature."
In addition, the study said "testosterone suppression is unlikely to guarantee fairness between transgender women and natal females in gender-affected sports."
The study's guidance suggested that gender-affected sports offer additional categories to accommodate transgender female competitors — for example, keeping a "female" category and adding an "open" category.
Athletic organizations "may choose to offer sport in which the female category is protected for reasons of competitive fairness and/or safety if they are gender affected. These sports would offer both a female category and an open category. Female entries would be required to declare themselves as recorded female at birth," the study said, adding that "an open category would be available for any competitor to enter."
Transgender females competing against biological females has been a growing issue in sports over the last several years.
Of late the primary figure has been New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who — by qualifying for this summer's Tokyo Games — became the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.
Hubbard exited quickly from the women's competition, however.
Before Hubbard hit the headlines, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood — biological male sprinters who identified as females — dominated girls' track in Connecticut: