en English

In this episode of the GenderGP podcast we hear from olympian, Kirsti Miller, who joins Dr Helen and Marianne to discuss the role of trans women in sport. Together they discuss the role of hormones in sport, how the rules are no longer fit for purpose and how sport can – and must – change to become all inclusive.

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The GenderGP Podcast

Being a visible transgender woman in sports – Kirsti Miller

 

Hello, this is Dr Helen Webberley. Welcome to our GenderGP Podcast, where we will be discussing some of the issues affecting the trans and non-binary community in the world today, together with my co-host Marianne Oakes, a trans woman herself, and our head of therapy.

 

Dr Helen Webberley:
Hi everybody. Marianne and I are here again today, we have Kirsti Miller with us today who is a trans woman and educator within sport. So really, really excited to start that conversation going. So as usual, I’m going to pass over to Kirsti to introduce herself. Tell us all about you, who you are, why you wear this, and what is it you’re so passionate about.

Kirsti Miller:
Thank you for that lovely introduction. And thank you, Helen and Marianne to have me on the, on the podcast. Two things in life I’m really, really passionate about. And number one is yes, I’m a transgender woman. So, first thing I was very passionate about from about three and a half years of age was everything that I could find out about being transgender. And the other thing that from about four and a half years of age, I’ve become very passionate about was sport of being an athlete from about four and a half years of age. And I represented Australia in two sports by the time I was 14 years of age in the sports of modern pentathlon and aquathlon, and I also represented my state, New South Wales in four sports in swimming, aquathlon, pentathlon and fencing, and I got to travel around the world and that the whole time growing up, I was suffering alone, Helen and Marianne. I was trapped inside what I believed at the time, a body that didn’t suit what was showing me inside my brain. And I didn’t have a name for it. That the main thing is I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. And I was born in 1965 and grew up in country, New South Wales. And, and I was the only boy in my family. I was actually Warren Junior. So, I had a lot of expectations placed upon my shoulders. And, and I got into the typical, you know, male sports and then played football and played Australian rules football and rugby league, and represented in pretty much every sport. And I manned up, you know, and, I tried to run away from who I really was because I was scared of being thrown out of home at all or being laughed at or being bashed or worse, you know? And so, I kept manning up the night with that on my way through school, it was still this young star athlete traveling the world and 14, 15-year-old is, 15-year-old on a train for seven months, living by myself on a train and competing in all countries. And I got married young and become a prison officer. And the was the youngest governor in New South Wales’ penal history. And I become the first governor here in Australia’s first indigenous specific jail in Australia. And then when I was the boss to the jail out here, right, I turned up one day, as Kirsti after 16 years going to work as Warren and, and I was the first ever transgender prison governor in the world, my God. And back then in Broken Hill, what was, it wasn’t the Priscilla town back then, it was a mining town, a real rough place. And so, it was pretty big news back in the year, 2000 that the local jails now run by a transgender girl. And, you know, from that day forth, and then I was, a star in my life. I went up the ranks very quickly and, but when I came out as transgender, I was like, I was released from custody myself. You know what? I dealt with inmates and deep, strict cellular confinement for many, many years. And they only got out of their cell for one hour a day, but I was working inside the 4 walls and inside the strict cellular confinement unit. But then I was working inside my own head. There was no escape for me growing up with gender dysphoria. Why I am here today though is, I’m very passionate about sport, you know, and in the transgender community, sport is my passion. I believe out of all our of obstacles that we face as transgender people, the trans athlete is pretty much at the bottom of the pecking order. At the moment we cop a lot of abuse. A lot of people assume that we transitioned to win metals, which is ridiculous. I’ve got a truckload of medals out there. So, I definitely didn’t want any sport medals, but a lot of people say that we haven’t qualified for the Olympic games because none of us were very good athletes to start with. We were just mediocre men. I’ve been diagnosed with severe osteoporosis and because my body needed the testosterone put back into it about 14 years ago after it become postoperative. And because sport policy doesn’t allow that and doesn’t allow it for women like yourself and doesn’t allow women like Caster Semenya if we’ve got a health need, no supporting policy will allow us to have that health need met. But a male a male, under wider policy a male with low testosterone, he applies for therapeutic use exemption easily. He can use an injection and shoot himself up with testosterone and bringing himself up to the same level as his same sex counterparts.

Dr Helen Webberley:
There’s so much to unpack and talk about isn’t there. So, there’s a couple of things that I know that people have feelings about and that, that people are interested in, a couple of issues here. One is about people who say, if you are a transgender woman, so if you were assigned male at birth, but actually you identify as a female as you do and Kirsti, then, then you would have an unfair advantage in sport. And if you played on the women’s team, so that’s Marianne, that’s something that obviously we’ve seen people, haven’t we? People have had had feelings about this, this kind of unfair advantage. If you, if you have a more masculine body, if we could kind of segregate it that way, is that, is that something that you’ve come across, Marianne?

Marianne Oakes:
The perception is that, that would be the case. Now I can’t go into the science behind this, but I’m just going to give an example. If I went onto the tennis court with Serena Williams, she would hammer me to death. There’s no way anywhere close to full testosterone levels are not. My physiology is what put me at a complete disadvantage to Serena Williams and probably the top thousand female tennis players in the world. So how we manage sport to keep it fair because it, I think to me, sports, is just not fair, it’s never been fair. You know, to support somebody who is 5.6 sprinting, a hundred meters against Usain Bolt. That’s just not a fair race. It’s never going to be a fair race. So, to try and, you know, justify any of that. And Kirsti, I’d love you to tell me otherwise if you want, but you know, the truth of the matter is sports. Just not fair to start with. There’re so many details that make up an athlete to try and make it fair through hormones alone is, is just making it worse. It’s, it’s simplifying a really complex subject. Would you agree?

Kirsti Miller:
Absolutely. And to make it on value testosterone, without a doubt is the worst category. They’ve, they’ve tried to define a male and female as, because no sports policy relying on volume testosterone alone, without considering the individual sensitivity to test two androgens means absolutely nothing. And there is no study in the world. There is not one study in the world that shows increased endogenous testosterone levels achieves a greater athletic performance. If people say there is, make them produce it cause, there is not. There is absolutely no study that links increase in andogenous levels, but where girls like trans girls fit under say international OIC policy, that policy is based to minimize the advantage that we may have got by experience a male puberty. And once again, this is a blanket policy and it’s going to relate to in the future, we’ve got trans kids now that never experienced that male puberty. And they are going to need androgen support later on in their lives. Otherwise you’re going to have brittle bones by the time they are 25, 30.

Dr Helen Webberley:
So, this is, so that’s right. So, this is the other side of the coin, isn’t it? So, we’ve got the one where, there are people who were assigned differently at birth, are they at a disadvantage or advantage if they play for the other team, the right team. And then we’ve got the issue of the hormones themselves, haven’t we? Because as you rightly say, everybody’s hormones are different and why is it? Why is it fair that that’s somebody who is, who was assigned male at birth and identifies it as male, if they have a low testosterone, because that’s just because their body isn’t producing enough for them, then they are medically allowed to have testosterone. Whereas a trans man taking testosterone would perhaps be treated differently in sport because theirs isn’t coming from their body, it’s coming from medication. So, there’s a difference there, isn’t there? And then we’ve got these other complications of people who were assigned female at birth and identify as female, but actually have higher circulating testosterone just because that’s what their body happens to do for them. So, we’ve got some difficulties when we’re talking about the science, as you were talking about Kirsti, you know, the kind of science or the research, the studies around it.

Kirsti Miller:
When you think about sport now has decided to make a male and female by an arbitrary testosterone level. Yeah. Just think about that for one second, a male or a female is now defined by an arbitrary testosterone level. Now, can you think of anywhere else in the world and do you know many people that know, even know their testosterone level?

Dr Helen Webberley:
No, absolutely.

Kirsti Miller:
No, I don’t. So, there’s a lot of people in the world that not even I’ve noticed that are male or female, if they go by Sebastian Coe. And Sebastian Coe he made a comment that the greatest, determination of athletic ability is testosterone, okay? Now under the current policy, if that was true by Seb Coe, that testosterone is the single determining factor to improve athletic performance, why is it so that only transgender women like me and athletes with one certain DSD condition have their testosterone levels regulated? If Sebastian Coe is so adamant. And then we have like, as if we have XX girls with T levels in the male range, and we saw a study only last year in the UK, that’s when they, they got some, females and they gave them some testosterone over a 10 week period and they say that these females, were absolutely like dynamite, because another example is a trans man that has not had his main androgen receptors removed. He’s allowed to have the same amount of testosterone as a trans man that’s gone through and had a hysterectomy. So, the trans man with the functioning androgen receptors, he’s getting six to 10 times more boost than what I would, if I had it, if I had my functioning male androgen receptors. And then we have, again, which you just touched on the male. So, it gives you an example. If we’ve got, say a 13-year-old little boy that for some reason, sadly accident or illness loses, his gonads and can’t produce testosterone that young fellow will still be able to compete in sport because he’ll get a therapeutic use exemption and you’ll be able to bring them up. But if we’ve got a 13-year-old girl that that’s got to have the hysterectomy at 12, 13 years of age, and her body now gets to an age where she needs testosterone, some androgen support, goodbye. She can’t. She got to make the choice play sport or not. So, under the current policy, there’s seven physiologies they’re trying to push into one testosterone limit. We’ve got transgender females and they, they’re the ones that have come in the scene since 2015. So, the preoperative girls, then we’ve got the transition girls like myself. So, I’ve got different health needs to go. I need androgen support later on where preoperative girls like they can lower their dosage, or whatever. But then we got the DSD athletes, then we got the XX girls, even the ones with high T, then we’ve got the trans man pre-imposed, and then the males as medically flawed as totally medically flawed as making athletes unwell and total sexual bias.

Dr Helen Webberley:
So, if, if we, because we, we three here understand about this, very clearly. So, if we were to make a policy that would fit for sport, what, what would be your top line thoughts, Kirsti? What do you think we would, if we were on the panel, what would we be advising?

Kirsti Miller:
Well to try and put this in layman’s for everyone, I believe that whilst maintaining the strict binary male female category that we have now, because I’ve got two options in this, right? And whilst maintaining the strict male and female, now for someone like Caster Semenya. Born a female, raised a female born with female genitalia competed for 11 years as a female should be allowed to compete as a healthy normal woman without any medication, number one, no woman, no athletes should be made to reduce it. That like, and then for girls like me, I can’t be a blanket policy, right. I believe the current 12 months of the OIC is great, but that’s the minimum for elite sport. And I’m talking about elite sport policy and a lot of people are confused with it now. So, the current policy I would keep is the 10 nanomoles, and the 12 months is a minimum.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Sorry, just, just for the listeners. So, what’s the 12 months, the 12 months policy is 12 months?

Kirsti Miller:
The 12 months, you’ve got to have a minimum of 12 months of maintaining your testosterone levels under 10 nanomoles. And then, but that time under section 2.2 of the OIC policy, that time can be extended on a case by case basis. And that would have been used for someone like myself who is an international athlete. And for certain sports, I believe it took myself a little bit longer than 12 months. And the current policy now allows that, but the only tweak I would give to the current policy now would be for surgically transitioned women like myself, need to have our androgen needs met. So, we need to be able to be given a TUE for testosterone. It doesn’t improve my athletic performance because I don’t have androgen receptors and it’ll just give my body a daily boost of health. So, any TUE has to be medically approved, medically sound, where not how current policies now. With the wider policy for girls is flawed and (unclear 17:13) showed this to be true in that in the divisional court over G talent, the UCI policy, which follows, the OIC policy. If we’re not allowed to have our antigen meets met. So, keep it as it is now. I wouldn’t not make someone like Caster Semenya lower her testosterone level. And I believe XX girls that have androgen needs like men to be able to have those, but that’s this sport. Now I would like to see sport change in the future and have sport more than two categories. I believe we should be moving more along the line of the Paralympics and having a look, not what people can’t do, but what makes what movement for each sport makes it, so it could be sprinting at might be fast twitch fibers that may be height at maybe the VO2 levels or whatever. But each sport, I believe we can have more categories. So, the Olympics might be more like the Paralympics. We might add seven categories for the hundred meters. Yeah and if we abandon the male and female category today, right? If Serena Williams is the 500th best tennis player in the world male or female today, she’s going to still be the 500 is best one tomorrow. No, one’s going to jump up. You know what I mean? We see that by segregating sports that women may get a broken bone or break, break your leg. Yeah. That’s our biggest concern or a women might win a medal. What if the consequences of not having co-ed mixed sports are worse? And I believe they are worse because you look in the university in a collegiate sport, in the male dominated sports with the rape culture. And that over there. Okay. Now these males are brought up in male street cultures and the toxic masculinity. And have a low opinion of women because then they’ve got to go along with the flow with the, you know, their mates make them act a certain way, but when these athletes were brought up in this male territory started playing co-ed sport straightaway, and they started treating these women, they thought, geez, they are pretty good athletes. Number one, if I can kick and run the ball. And I started seeing them as equal human beings. So, you know, I really think the consequences of having strict male female are far worse than a broken leg here or there.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, I think to be, I think, I mean, this doesn’t just apply to sport, does it? you know, there’s this binary.

Kirsti Miller:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr Helen Webberley:
You know, Marianne, I mean, what, what are your thoughts on actually just getting rid of the binary of male and female, you know, why, why should there be one side for them and one side for the other?

Marianne Oakes:
I want, yeah, I think there’s a bigger implication here personally, because this is, you know, we can talk about elite sports and that’s governed by the sponsors. It’s governed by how much money can be made out of it. This is about people keeping fit. This is about people, you know, if I want it to go and play cricket now, do you know, I just want to go to my local cricket club and say, which team do you want me to play on? I don’t want you to start going on about, well you’re this you’re that can we test your testosterone? You know, I just want somebody to give me a baton and say, go, and bat for them over there, because actually it’s fun. Sport is—it should be all inclusive for all people at all levels that nobody should be barred. You know? So, the implications of what’s going on at the top in elite sport is actually telling people further down the line that you will not be welcome. Not just trans kids, you know, gay men, you know, lesbian women, you know, people of, color. It just really, is sending out all the wrong messages. Grassroots for me should be all welcoming. And we shouldn’t be having a debate over, like you say, the binary.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, also, the thought that, you know, they are different shapes and sizes, isn’t that, you know, I love, I love it. Yeah. Yeah. Pick up, give me a bat, where do you want me? Do you want me on that side? You want me there? Do you want to be fielding? Do you want me batting? What am I to do? Do you know what? I love that, that concept. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve got size 20 feet and you’re going to swim or 6 foot 8 and you’re going to be a basketball player, can I still play even though I’m a bit short, you know? You’re absolutely right. Marianne. Absolutely. Right.

Kirsti Miller:
Well Helen that happens actually. For example, in our local touch football cup we used to have 10 grades in the men and about eight in the women. Now, how did the 8 grade skipped to playing the 8? And that plays in the 10th grade play in the 10? By natural progression and selection. It wasn’t, you just come and carry on, the best players ended up in the top grades. And the slower players played in the 10th grade and they all had semifinals. They all had finals series. They all had grand finals, but the players were all matched in their different grades. And you get a golf club or a tennis club. They ranked into D grade, C grade, B grade, A grade, how do they do that? Like, how do they do that? So, if we just had all grades, men, and women, all combined, together, we’re still going to be competing with people of the same ability. We’re all going to be matched in the same ability and our local football team here, we’re battling for players. And we’ve got these guys that are on the sideline. They are little frail men that would love to have to kick at football but they are way too frail to have kick with the boys. And my partner, Nikki, she smashes the girls out here. She’s been doing it for 30 years. That’s, she got too good at it they had to make her play with the boys. And she got best player in that too, you know? So, it’s like, “Oh, Frank sitting there on sideline.” He’s no faster, no, no, no stronger. Can’t kick the ball anymore, but he can’t get a game because he’s, name’s not Sarah or, or, or Kirsti, you know. Like I think sport and sport doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Like most communities revolve around sporting teams, like in Broken Hill here. If you’re not a Magpie, a Kangaroo, a Bulldog or what’s that other team name? If you’re not part of them, you’re not part of the social fabric of the town. So, if you were don’t allow transgender girls in the AFL. The trans girl didn’t go to go anywhere. it’s that big of a thing, you out a person from their community by outing them from their local football team. That’s Australia, like we revolve around a sport. And I think most communities in the world revolve around their cricket, their golf club, their tennis club, you know, their kids’ football team.

Marianne Oakes:
Yeah, they do and it revolves around being inclusive of all people. That’s the important—we’re talking about people’s health. Aren’t we? If I am not able to go and exercise, that’s going to be damaging to my health, not just my physical health, but my mental wellbeing. You know, there’s a lot of evidence to say that, you know, keeping fit and healthy has so many other benefits about your whole life and actually, being excluded from that, it just, it just shouldn’t happen. It should be inclusive of all. I just want it to share a little story for me. Cause you reminded me. We were at holiday at (unclear 25:15) and, they have a five-side football competition. And I took my two boys down. You pay your money and you stand there, and you line up that everybody up a in a row. And you picked two people to pick the teams or four people, or however many teams. And I’m sat next to this old lady. And in the middle of this line was one girl out of, you know, 35 kids. There was one girl and this old lady just turned to me and she said, they won’t pick the girl. And I said, so being a little bit indignant, I said, oh, I’m sure he, well, you know, when they finished choosing and she’s going to be on her own. So sure enough, he went down and the last person to be picked was the girl. And then the lady turned to me, she said, she plays for England. I said, Oh right. And she said, she’d just come back from the daily show I’d just watched it, and told all the teens. Everybody had five in a team apart from the last team that only had four, the one player short, this girl was in it. They absolutely beat everybody. She organized these kids and she’s just, and you just cannot look and say, because you’re a girl, you cannot play football. And it was, you know, out of all them kids, there’s some great footballers but nobody come close to her. And that to me, sums up how we, and we’ve got to change how we think, and we’ve got to be more aware.

Dr Helen Webberley:
That’s a beautiful story. That’s a really, really beautiful story. So, well, I mean, it’s, everyone’s worst nightmare. Isn’t it being picked, picked last when you have to do choosing things, but yeah, what a fantastic result, lovely little bit.

Kirsti Miller:
We don’t know what women can do in sport yet. There’s they go on about the gender gap in sport. Now the gender gap in sport. Well, for a start, women have got massive inequalities at every single level of sport. And they always have, you know, it’s only been the 2012 Olympics that we had, women in every sport and, and weightlifting only come in, you know, in the late 1990s. And the biggest problem with women’s sport is as soon as a female athlete shows any form of masculinity, she’s either transgender or intersex or a man in disguise. So the biggest barrier to women’s sports participation is the attitudes towards women. So, and women athletes, these days are playing strengths, sports. They must be allowed to be strong bodied. And if they’re not allowed to be strong bodied, women are going to suffer. It continued to suffer injuries in sport. So we don’t know what women can do. And I predict once women get full equality in sport and get these stereotype, beliefs about protecting women athletes out of the head, and I believe trans athletes can help expedite this for women because we’re breaking down the molds of what is the stereotypical woman is. And also athletes like Venus Williams have done that. Amelia Mersmo, you know, she cupped a lot of abuse and was, was accused of being transgender. You know, those attitudes against female athletes is absolutely disgusting. So why would a 12, 13-year-old girl want to do weight lifting? And she might want to do that. And love to do that, but afraid to do it because she’d be accused to being a man or a drug cheat or—but a man w we put him up on a pedestal, you know, and, and, and praise him if he’s masculine or built or whatever, but we should be looking at female athletes as athletes first.

Marianne Oakes:
I was just going to say, this, this plays back into the, we’re going to get into society now, what society values masculinity over femininity. And that is really the starting point of all of this. And you’re right, that, you know, where we’ve got to, I can’t think of a name, what the female boxer in the UK now, and, you know, women’s boxing and take a long time to be accepted that women would even want to fight. You know what I mean? We watch female wrestling. You know, if it’s mud wrestling, we watch it as an erotic fetish. We don’t see them as genuine athletes. And I still think society plays lip service to women in sport, that it is a novelty. That there isn’t as valuable as men in sport.

Kirsti Miller:
Absolutely. And that’s going on now since day one, you know, and that’s why we still talking about surgically or chemically castrating women that are a little bit more masculine than the norm, you know? So I, I blame the international globe and sports. I blame Sebastian COE and the IAAS for harming these women for, they visually called these women men, and it’s terrible. Yeah. The World Medical Association, have called this out as medically flawed. the UN has condemned this practice of, of medically harming these, these young vulnerable women, you know, like this it’s terrible.

Marianne Oakes:
Do you feel that it’s the current climate of, dare I say, transphobia, certainly that what we’ve got in the UK, I don’t know how it is in Australia, but somehow this has seeped into the argument. You know, people, do use it as a way of keeping us down and that it seeped into the debates and suddenly now it’s become a wider issue within sports. And then unfortunately, Caster kind of suffered the ultimate blow that she’s not even trans, do you know what I mean?

Kirsti Miller:
I know, I know, I know. And there’s other women competing now with elevated testosterone levels and, and far more sensitive androgen receptors. So it’s pretty much about protecting, the brand of these global sports, their image. They want the blonde petite women to be running around the track. It doesn’t suit their agenda that had these women that don’t look quite as feminine as what they wish to have on the track. It’s absolutely disgusting. it’s the darkest moment in women’s sport to have a current two-time Olympic champion, turn into a medical patient effectively and thrown out of a sport. It’s a Me Too moment in women’s sport without a doubt.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Marianne same question to you, is there anything that you would, because we do see time and time again, don’t we that, you know, the decisions around transgender rights, or lives are made by cis-gender people who don’t understand. So if, if we had you Marianne on the panel, would there be any prerequisites that you would recommend?

Marianne Oakes:
I’m going to go back to inclusion really that, that, you know, sports and governing bodies should be, keeping their sports inclusive. I admit we’ve thrown a spanner in the works for their binary thinking. And, I would use the Paralympics as the shining example of what you can do to actually run a massive event that is all inclusive of disabilities on all levels. And if we can do that, doing it with gender should be a breeze. And yeah, it is a problem, but it shouldn’t be one that we are trying to solve through chemicals. It’s one. We should, we should solve through different measures, height, width, you know, speed, you know, surely you could have a hundred-meter sprint that is under nine seconds. Do you want to what I mean? People that can’t consistently go overnight? I’m saying nine seconds, like I know what a 100-meter sprint is, but I’m kind of guessing. So, if I was on the board, I would be pointing them challenging questions. What are we avoiding here? You know, why are we, why are we trying to narrow this down to such a simplistic, hormone levels that this is far more than that? And one other point I would put in, I do know for a fact, cycling is the disgrace, they’ve had chemicals performance at the highest level for years and years and years yet where women are concerned and testosterone levels, we are now saying no. And I think if Kirsti had the study correctly, all these laws that are only going to affect women.

Kirsti Miller:
Yeah, yeah, and absolutely. Sport is blinded by the history of doping of exogenous testosterone, and sports is confused between endogenous and exogenous. They are two completely different things. One is where you’re exogenous, you’re adding to your normal level and the endogenous is what you produce naturally, and that changes by the amount you train or what you eat, or the healthy androgen receptors. And, but they blinded by all those someone’s got high testosterone. And the people who have actually, benefited the most in sport through doping has been XX females. Because like I said earlier, the XX female androgen receptors are far more sensitive to T, that’s what it was saw such the success in the early eighties with, and records were set back then by girls that that will never probably be broken. And there’s been a lot more success with female dopers than males, but yeah, they’ll only then reduce female levels. We can have a male with exceptionally high levels. They’re not going to penalize him. They’ll call him athlete of the year. Yeah, but a female with heightened testosterone levels she’s called a man by Sebastian Coe. Absolutely terrible, as society, if you’re legally a woman in your country, that should be the start point. You’ll legally woman in sport. Now sport is created this arbitrary T level. And it’s only come in the last five years. Sport has created this problem. Sport can very easily fix it. And a lot of sports are moving away from that OIC policy. We’ve got the NCAA in America. They don’t have the testosterone level. I believe there’ll be some sports coming out in Australia in the near future that won’t have the T level at community level. There is already a couple now, the AFL cycling and cricket in Australia; we don’t have the T level at the community level of sport, which is a brilliant thing. And it’s pretty much, you turn up, you affirm your gender identity and your play. And if you seem to have an advantage, you put in a different grade or the grade is modified through protective equipment or whatever. There’s practical ways that we solve in this stuff here in Australia. And none of it is through testosterone levels. None of it at all, it’s all through natural correction and monitoring the games that happens with any athlete that’s being playing the game for the last hundred years. You know? So there’s no big change doing it with chemicals. So I absolutely agree that should never happen. That should never ever happen. You know, if you’re a girl, you’re a girl. If you’re a boy, you’re a boy and you are the person to say that there’s no one else, you know, so sport’s got to open up. It’s definitely got to open up. You know, I don’t need these little fraction of people are in elite sport, this tiny little pinnacle at the top, the other, you know, billions of people in the world, 7 billion people, we can all fit in, you know? Yeah. I think we solved the community level, leave the elite level and, and that that’s going to happen. You know. There’s all this various accounts breaking down at the local level.

Marianne Oakes:
Interesting, I went to see my, 14 year old nephew play football yesterday, and he’s been moved up into the under fifteens team from the under fourteens because he is good enough and he’s big enough, but I was watching the team. And I thought, I couldn’t tell you who was fit, who was under 15, they’re all different shapes and sizes, all different abilities. And, you know, nobody’s on the touch line going he shouldn’t be playing would be in this team because he shouldn’t be, we can always move people up, you know, a younger person or, you know, we could have a little, you know, an under developed 15-year-old cannot play in the under fourteens. It’s ridiculous. So it’s kind of, the other point I was going to throw in, we’ve been doing this for years in boxing. We don’t put in, you know, a flyweight with a heavyweight. You know, they have ways of managing it in golf. We have handicaps, you know, there’s always ways to grade people so that it’s not an unfair advantage. So, I don’t see why we can’t do it to accommodate, gender diversity, shall we say.

Kirsti Miller:
Well, I reckon the best example of an inclusive policy that’s been in place for the longest out of any in sport and, and allows positivity is the NCAA policy, which was introduced in 2011. And I believe there’s around 500 trans athletes competing there, NCAA as we speak now. And there’s been no gender reassignment requirement. There’s been no testosterone limit in those nine years. And we haven’t had one NCAA division one champion, no one trans record, not one title. Not one record on holder in any sport in nine years. So trans girls, we don’t transition to win metals. It breaks down that fallacy, you know, none of this transition to win metals, who would transition to be transgender athlete and just get on social media and have a look. What happens when a transgender athlete wins the Pacific national title, even though they’re 80 kilometers below to the world record board, you have all Fallon Fox who hasn’t fought for over five years. You think that Fallon would have won 10 fights in the last three months, you know, it’s been nearly six years since Fallon fought and she lost her last fight. And she is most unbeatable MMA fighter of all time. If you have a look at Twitter, you know, Fallon had a very average record and, and yeah, they just blow these things completely out of the water, you know, completely out of the water.

Marianne Oakes:
I was just going to ask you Helen, cause you are a third member on this panel as well, what would you say as a doctor to listening to all of this?

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, I’ll tell you, thanks for asking, actually, I mean, I feel misplaced on this panel because I’m not trans, and I’m not, I’m going to admit this now, not that interested in sports, I don’t know whether that shows, but, from a doctor’s point of view, I’m absolutely disgusted that we are bringing this down to blood tests and medicines, absolutely disgusted. How anybody can force somebody else to take medicines or tablets that they don’t want to in order to please the public or the views or the sports or whatever it might be. I’m appalled at that. and you know, and as for the testosterone levels, it’s really interesting because these, aren’t testosterone levels do not go by gender. they, they, they are different. You can be, you can be assigned female at birth and have virtually no testosterone. You can be assigned female at birth and have a high level of testosterone. And also in with that is, that is what effects the testosterone actually has on your body. So you can have a really high testosterone, even though you are assigned female at birth, but it actually doesn’t do anything because your, your testosterone receptors in your muscles, in your body, don’t react to the testosterone. So that’s a very kind of, you know, snapshot medical view of it. It’s a really complex field. And you can’t simply say, if you’re taking that medicine, you can, or can’t do this, or you should take this medicine in order so that you can, or can’t do this. And if your blood test is this or that you’re allowed to do this, it’s just nonsense, complete nonsense. So, you know, that’s my snapshot medical view. So no, we can’t do it on blood tests and no, we can’t do it on what medicines you’re taking. but to give yourself an, an unfair advantage, just to give you in itself, an advantage in sport, it should not be allowed. So I definitely think that you should not take testosterone medicine in order to improve your functionality score. I think that I think that’s unfair, and I think everybody agrees with me that then you bring it, you know, there’s always a loophole, isn’t it? Because then you bring in the difficult ones, where will I need this medicine for my, to live my life every day. And that includes my sports. You know, my, my testosterone level is low and I need a bit more in order to have, energy and sexual performance. And what have you. so I need a bit more, are they allowed it, even if they’re sports people, so it’s incredibly, incredibly difficult to work this one out. I don’t think the three of us are gonna work it out today. I have to say, I think that we’ve done. I think we’ve done a really good job in just putting out our three views over. I’ve really enjoyed, enjoyed the discussion. I think, you know, obviously Kirsti, you bring a great sporting knowledge, which Marianne and I don’t have. And it’s really interesting to see it from the other side of the fence. and I think policymakers have got a long, long way to go, in a lot of things and Marianne completely so agree with you. It is at the end of the day, it’s just about inclusion and, you know, your comment about the Paralympics, you know, how do we manage to include so many different abilities and disabilities, in one and make it work, you know, Bravo, they did a really, really, really good job.

Kirsti Miller:
I really appreciate your, your views on the medical stuff, but Marianne, you’ve got to be on every sports board. You’ve got some great stories there and the way you’ve say it, you made me think of things like I learn something new every time I speak to someone else in this conversation. And I really like your perspective on it there, Marianne. You’ve got to, yeah. And the couple of your analogies, and your stories in there really highlight, you know, your points. You mightn’t be a sporty girl, but you’ve got to know what you dig into society can be linked back into sport.

Marianne Oakes:
Like I’ll, I’ll share with you if it hadn’t have been for sport, my school days would have been pointless. But I age 15 and I had a cartilage out my knee and not kind of put stop to any kind of career that I might have had in sport, but it didn’t stop me being interested. And actually I do get angry that there is no place for me. You know, that if I wanted to go and play the sport, I could’ve done that, but my knees are shot now, but I just couldn’t go to the cricket club pickup baton and ask them to put me in the most appropriate team. And that I find really frustrated and to use it as a step, use it as a stick to beat the Trans community I think its abhorrent.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, thank you very, very much, ladies. It’s been a really, really interesting, I learnt lots as usual on our podcasts. I’ve been doing always enjoyed Marianne’s view on things. That’s, that’s no different, and it’s been great to talk to you Kirsti today. So thank you so much for joining us. and I hope people listening have done have enjoyed as three different views, but all working for the same, which is actually inclusivity. So thank you so much for joining us.

 

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