On Thursday night’s episode of "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah, Canadian biological male cycling competitor Veronica Ivy attempted to defend allowing biological male athletes being permitted to compete against women, saying that men competing in women’s division do not have an unfair advantage.
Ivy, who is a two time World Masters cycling champion in the female ages 35-39 division, opened up the conversation by citing the Olympic Charter, which states that "the practice of sport is a human right."
"They say participation in sport is a human right, and they mean that at at the competitive level," said Ivy. "So this issue, people like to say that it’s a complicated issue, and I don’t think it is."
"I think it’s very simple. It all boils down to, do you actually think that trans women and intersex women are real women, and are really female, or not," Ivy continued. Ivy used to go by Rachel McKinnon. Claims made by Ivy as McKinnon included that it was prejudiced for lesbians to not want to date biological males who identified as lesbians themselves. McKinnon won a women's cycling world championship in 2019.
Ivy said that if a person thinks that trans women are women, then "it’s very simple, just stop policing who counts as a real woman."
In an attempt to explain that Ivy is in fact a biological female, Ivy said that "all my identity records, my racing license, my medical records all say female, right? And I’m pretty sure I’m made of biological stuff, so I’m a biological female as well."
Ivy continued on to pose the question, "do trans women have an advantage over cis women?"
"We don’t know," Ivy answered, noting that there is "basically no published research on this question."
"However, there’s good reason to think that there isn’t, but I think it’s irrelevant because we allow all kinds of competitive advantages within women’s sport," said Ivy.
Ivy used the example of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where there was a nearly one foot difference in height between the first place female finisher and tenth place.
"And we call that fair, okay, so the range of body types within the female category is way, way bigger than anything that could be attributed to trans women," said Ivy.
"So if there’s an advantage, and I’m not saying that there is for trans women in women’s sports, it’s not an unfair advantage," said Ivy, who noted that trans athletes have been "trying to compete at the highest levels for decades… and no one has won an elite world championship."
In response to Noah posing the question from the perspective of a woman requesting that trans athletes be banned from women’s sports until research can otherwise prove that they don’t have a disadvantage, Ivy responded "because that’s not how human rights work."
"So the way human rights work is that the default is inclusion, and the burden of proof is on the people seeking to exclude not the people, seeking to include."
Ivy continued on to state that there is research finding that "there’s no relationship whatsoever between unaltered, natural endogenous testosterone and sport performance."
"About .5 percent of elite male track and field athletes at the world championship level are below the women’s average of testosterone, competing with men with 80 to 100 times as much testosterone at no competitive disadvantage."
Ivy stated that there are some women whose natural, unaltered testosterone levels can exceed those of men, but in taking data from a graph posted to Ivy’s Twitter, those women are few and far between, with the vast majority of women falling under 5 mol/L of testosterone, while the vast majority of men fall above 5 mol/L.
Despite Ivy’s claims, many organizations overseeing different sports have taken to placing limit caps on testosterone in female divisions, including in swimming, where in June FINA announced that they would essentially be banning biological males from competing against women.
FINA’s new guidelines state that biological males can compete with women if they completed their transition before the age of 12, and continually suppress their testosterone.
"Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury," FINA stated.
In cycling, Ivy’s sport, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has tightened their restrictions on testosterone levels, lowering the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level from 5 nmol/L to 2.5 mol/L and increasing the transition period on low testosterone from 12 to 24 months.
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