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ESPN reporter questions whether trans athletes have advantage in women’s sports

ABC News
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Journalist Katie Barnes

ABC News

During an appearance on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper, ESPN journalist Katie Barnes expressed skepticism regarding the claim that transgender women would inherently have an advantage over cisgender women in sports.

Scientific evidence

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Barnes suggested there is a lack of substantial scientific evidence supporting this claim. Tapper asked about the prevailing narrative suggesting that transgender female athletes might possess an edge, prompting Barnes to address the issue.

Differences in sexes

ABC News

“I think it depends on what you mean by support that,” Barnes said. “From my reporting, the reality is that from a scientific perspective, we know that there are differences in sexes, and we know the differences do tend to lead to athletic performance differences as well.”

Restrictions

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“However, when we look at broad-based restrictions at all levels of sport, it’s very challenging to say that scientifically that is supported in all cases.”

Team sports

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She continued, “Meaning that, something that might be appropriate for swimming does not necessarily apply to basketball, when it comes to individual sports versus team sports, as well as level of competition.”

Advantage

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“So, I think the idea that transgender women have an advantage in all sports at all times regardless of any kind of medical transition, I don’t think that the scientific literature supports that at this time.”

Competitive edge

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A study published in 2021 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that transgender women retain a competitive edge over cisgender women even following a year of hormone therapy.

Olympic level

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“For the Olympic level, the elite level, I’d say probably two years is more realistic than one year,” Dr. Timothy Roberts, the director of the adolescent medicine training program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, told NBC News at the time. “At one year, the trans women on average still have an advantage over the cis women.”

NAIA’s decision

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Barnes was also asked about the NAIA’s decision to prohibit transgender women from competing against biological fames in sports.

Policy updates

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“I think it’s reflective of the times that we are in terms of, for the last 3 or 4 years, we have seen most policy updates, when it comes to transgender athletes, be reflective of restriction and this seems to fall right in line with that,” Barnes said.

Transgender athlete ban

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The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) implemented a policy to prevent transgender females from participating in women’s sports. The NAIA Council of Presidents unanimously approved this significant measure with a 20-0 vote.

Updated

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This updated regulation now applies to all competitions, replacing the previous rule that solely pertained to postseason events, as reported by CBS Sports.

Opinions

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“We know there are a lot of different opinions out there,” NAIA President Jim Carr told CBS Sports. “For us, we believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA.”

Title IX

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“We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created. You’re allowed to have separate but equal opportunities for women to compete.”

Gender category

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All athletes under the jurisdiction of the NAIA are required to compete in the gender category corresponding to their birth assignment.

Transgender athletes

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Carr emphasized that transgender athletes are still permitted to engage in sports activities.

Male sports

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“It’s important to know that the male sports are open to anyone,” Carr explained.

Exhibition matches

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Furthermore, the regulation allows for transgender athletes to take part in exhibition matches and non-NAIA sanctioned events.

NCAA’s approach

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This policy stands in sharp contrast to the NCAA’s approach, where the eligibility criteria for transgender athletes are determined by the governing bodies of each sport.

College sports

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“College sports are the premier stage for women’s sports in America, and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports, and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes in all NCAA championships,” the NCAA said in a statement.

Riley Gaines

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Riley Gaines and a coalition of former female athletes have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, alleging a violation of their Title IX rights.

Changing facilities

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They claim that the organization compelled them to compete against and share changing facilities with a transgender athlete.

Two years

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“The task force spent nearly two years reviewing research, meeting with experts to better understand potential policy challenges, and obtaining feedback from multiple membership groups,” said Amy Novak, the chair of the Council of Presidents and President of St. Ambrose University.

NAIA

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“With this policy, the NAIA has made its best effort to allow for the inclusion of transgender athletes in any way that does not impact the competitive fairness of women’s sports.”

Protect

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“Our priority is to protect the integrity of women’s athletics and allow them equal opportunity to succeed.”

Survey

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Before the vote, a survey was conducted where 58 out of the 67 university presidents and chancellors who participated indicated their backing for the proposed rule modification.

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