Fairness or inclusion – whose rights should prevail in sport?

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

First swimming, then rugby ... and now hints from Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, that transgender athletes could shortly be banned, in the best interests of sport, from track and field events because, he says, 'biology trumps gender'.

This is so demonstrably true that the only cause for surprise is perhaps the howl of protest from activists who claim against all evidence that such a position is 'unfair'.

It is not. Demanding that biologically female athletes compete against biological males inevitably puts women at a disadvantage because not only do men tend to be physically much bigger, even after transitioning, but even with testosterone suppressants, they benefit from greater physical strength.

Consider, for example, the case of University of Pennsylvania trans athlete Lia Thomas, who won the 500m freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March.

Thomas denies having an unfair advantage, but the fact remains that, at 6'1", she towered above fellow competitors, with her larger hands and feet and enhanced lung capacity all combining to give her inevitably greater speed. Small wonder female swimmers across the world have called her victory a 'joke with biological women the punchline'.

Consider also the case of transgender Martial Arts champion, Fallon Fox, who in 2018 beat her female opponent Tamika Brents so severely that she broke her skull. Or transgender mixed martial arts fighter Alana McLaughlin, a former member of the US Army Special Forces, whose female opponent was choked into submission.

That trans athletes should want to participate in sport is completely understandable, but pitting them post-transition against women is blatantly unfair and devalues the hard-won status of women, who have been forced down the centuries to fight for recognition and the freedom to be themselves in a male dominated world.

As maintained by swimming star Sharron Davies, all the evidence says clearly that forcing women to compete against transgender athletes is forcing them to accept a disadvantage, and it is not acceptable. Davies justifiably labels the debate toxic, because in competition it denies women a level playing field, giving all the advantage to biological males identifying as female.

The truth is that society is being forced to accept a chimera - something that remains scientifically impossible to achieve – as 'truth'. That there are increasing numbers of people in the world today, both male and female, claiming they were born in the wrong body is without question. But rather than feeding the dystopian misconception and forcing colluded pretence onto humanity as a whole, we would surely do better to address the root cause of so much unhappiness.

It is without question that we are born either male or female, which biologically cannot be changed. We can surgically reconstruct someone's body to give them the appearance of the opposite sex, and we can give hormones that will to some extent alter behaviour. But the fact remains that a person's sex cannot be changed.

Indeed, the transitioning process will leave the individual incapable of experiencing orgasm, infertile, and having to take possibly life-shortening medication for the rest of their lives, with all the attendant and clearly evidenced side-effects, such as bloating, headaches, persistent feelings of nausea, depression, osteoporosis etc, etc.

That society bends over backwards to try and help individuals battling feelings of personal alienation and distress is entirely commendable. Our aim should always be to help others find completion and fulfilment. But on current form we are only adding to, and not addressing or helping, the very obvious problems. Indeed, it might be argued that current policies are helping fuel what is rapidly developing into a contagious social disease.

May the compassionate sanity now emerging in sport, that attempts to respect all while maintaining genuine fairness, spread to the rest of society. In fairness, transgender athletes who wish to compete should have their own transgender categories for competition. Similarly, in the wider society, those who wish to transition should be supported as transgender individuals. But let us not collude in the damaging fantasy that they thereby 'change' sex.

Rev Lynda Rose is founder of Voice for Justice UK, a group which works to uphold the moral values of the Bible in society.