Artillery Row

Every sport is male sport

Focussing on Laurel Hubbard hides the scores of men dominating women’s sport

Up until very recently, one of the main arguments for not preventing boys who say they are girls from competing in girls’ sports was that it would be to resolve a problem that “doesn’t actually exist”.

But the problem — males dominating women’s sports — does exist. If the public is unaware of the scale of males’ infiltration of women’s sport, it is because the media only covers individual stories, usually with gushing praise for the male athletes’ stunning bravery in deciding to compete against women. They never give the whole picture: that in a huge swath of sports — from rugby to cricket, cycling to mixed martial arts — males are competing against, dominating, and sometimes injuring their female opponents.

But before we examine the extent of male domination, we need to talk about terms; specifically the word “transition”. Transgender activists argue that undergoing hormone replacement therapy removes males’ inherent physical advantages. In 2015, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) eligibility criteria for male-born people removed the requirement for genital reassignment surgery. It is now determined purely on the reduction of testosterone, even though there is no evidence that lowering testosterone levels fully removes males’ competitive advantage.

These rules open the playing field to any mediocre man who has gone through male puberty but who manages to reduce their testosterone to legal limits. People like Laurel Hubbard, for example, who failed to qualify for a single international men’s tournament as a professional weightlifter between 1998 and 2012. Hubbard transitioned in 2013, aged 35, and has since qualified for 11 international women’s tournaments, including this year’s Olympics.

Hubbard will not be the only male athlete competing against women at this year’s Olympics. Stephanie Barrett took up archery in 2018 and within a year won gold at the Canadian Championships, and this year equalled the Canadian women’s archery record score and qualified for Tokyo. The media failed to report Barrett’s biological sex; it only came to light a search through historic tweets discovered Barrett talking about their sex reassignment surgery in 2012.

Every male who competes in women’s professional sport is stealing the place from women

Also taking a spot from a woman in Tokyo will be Chelsea Wolfe, who transitioned in 2014 and will compete in BMX Freestyle for Team USA. And perhaps an even more extraordinary case than Laurel Hubbard is Valentina Petrillo, who won 11 Italian men’s Paralympic titles up until 2018. Petrillo then transitioned, aged 44, in 2020.

Petrillo’s motto is “Better a slow, happy woman than a fast unhappy man” — a nice bit of personal motivation that may have contributed to the athlete winning three gold medals at the Women’s Italian Paralympic Athletics Championships in just 24 hours.

Then there’s the record breakers. Mary Gregory transitioned as an adult, took up professional women’s weightlifting and, at Gregory’s first tournament, won all nine events at the 100 per cent Raw Weightlifting Federation competition, breaking four world records in the process. (The records were later rescinded).

Or Tiffany Abreu, a volleyball player in Brazil’s men’s Superliga A & B divisions before transitioning in 2018. Abreu then broke Brazil’s women’s Superliga’s single-game scoring record against a team that contained three Olympic gold medalists.

Terry Miller broke the girls’ state indoor record in the 55 metres dash at the Connecticut Open Indoor Track Championships in 2019, one year after Miller “identified as female”. Second place in the event went to Andraya Yearwood, who is also male. As is JayCee Cooper, who set the women’s bench press record while becoming the USPA Minnesota Women’s State champion in 2019.

Or, Mara Gómez who spent years journeying through the amateur leagues of Argentinian men’s football, but signed a contract with Villa San Carlos in the professionalised women’s Primera División after transitioning.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that mediocre men thrive in women’s sports. Remember, every male who competes in women’s professional sport is stealing the place — and potentially, victories — from women.

For example, golfer Hailey Davidson won nothing in the men’s category but, after transitioning, became the first male to win a women’s professional golf tournament earlier this year.

Jessica Platt failed to make it as a professional ice hockey player, then transitioned, and is now a professional women’s ice hockey player.

Jillian Bearden was unsuccessful in professional cycling; after transitioning aged 34 Jillian became a women’s professional peloton cyclist. Staying with cycling, Natalie Van Gogh has been a professional women’s cyclist for nearly a decade, winning at least two major events in that time despite being male; Michelle Dumaresq, male, became a professional women’s downhill mountain biker, winning the Women’s Canadian National Championships two years in a row.

There’s also a number of other males who have made a name for themselves in recent years by dominating women’s sport. In 2017 CeCe Telfer was ranked 390th among male NCAA Division II athletes in the 400m hurdles category. Telfer transitioned in 2018 and became the national NCAA Division II women’s 400m hurdle champion in 2019.

The Olympics in Tokyo will at least expose the absurdity and the extent of male infiltration of women’s sports

Hannah Mouncey made 22 appearances for the Australian men’s handball team, failing to score in any of those games. After identifying as a woman, Mouncey was allowed to play six times for the Australian women’s handball team, scoring 23 goals.

In 2011 Rachel McKinnon (aka Veronica Ivy) transitioned aged 29 and went on to win the UCI Women’s Masters Track World Championship for the women’s 35–44 age category. Staying with cycling, Kate Weatherly competed in the New Zealand men’s downhill mountain bike Open Division (the grade below Elite) but failed to win any events, before transitioning in 2021. Weatherly has now won the New Zealand Elite Women’s National Championship.

In cricket, Maxine Blythin played for both a men’s cricket team, where Blythin had a batting average of 15, and the Kent women’s cricket team, where Blythin achieved a Bradman-busting average of 124 and was named Kent women’s cricketer of the year.

Caroline Layt was a finalist for “Women’s Player of the Year” in rugby league, having played men’s rugby league before transitioning aged 30.

And Juniper Simonis has won the Women’s Roller Derby World Championship four times, following Simonis’ transition.

There are numerous other examples of males dominating women’s sports, such as Gabrielle Ludwig (who was 6 foot 8 and took up college girls’ basketball), runner Amelia Gapin, footballer and now beach handballer Athena Del Rosario, cyclist Kenzie Statz, dodgeballer Savannah Burton and bodybuilder Chris Bruce. Males are even taking on women in combat sports, such as MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who fractured a woman’s skull, and kickboxer Parinya Charoenphol, who knocked out 18 women.

But male violence isn’t always confined to the ring. Perhaps the most shocking story of all involves Lauren Jeska, who took up fell running after transitioning and won numerous women’s events including the British Fell Running Championships. When an athletics official investigated claims that Jeska was cheating, Jeska stabbed him in the neck and head, along with two other members of UK Athletics staff. Jeska is now in jail for attempted murder.

Though their exploits will be seen by a television audience of billions, Tokyo 2021 will be a dismal Olympics, as athletes who have trained so hard over the last four years are forced to compete in empty, echoing stadia. But at least one good thing will come from these games, as the absurdity and the extent of male infiltration of women’s sports is exposed. The world will be watching and deciding whether this problem “doesn’t actually exist” — or if the IOC and sports’ other governing bodies are playing a cruel and unusual trick on every female competitor.

Madison Smith runs the @ripx4nutmeg Twitter account

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