Fact Check: Article Does NOT Prove Transgender And Cisgender Girls Are On A Level Playing Field

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Article Does NOT Prove Transgender And Cisgender Girls Are On A Level Playing Field Studies Refute

Did a doctor prove that transgender girls have no performance advantage over cisgender girls in athletics? No, that's not true: Contrary to the claim in a British website's headline, medical researchers have documented trans women's performance advantage over cisgender women, although the advantage starts to shrink once trans women start taking hormones. There is no peer-reviewed study cited to support the "no advantage" claim, which was put forward by a Doctor of philosophy.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) where it was published on Unilad.co.uk on May 4, 2021, under the title, "No Evidence Trans Girls Perform Better In Sports Than Cisgender Girls, Says Doctor".

It opened:

Dr. Veronica Ivy said that the data that's currently available doesn't actually show that transgender girls have the upper hand when it comes to performing in sports alongside cisgender girls.

Ivy is not a medical doctor. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy, according to Unilad, is a trans woman and a "two-time masters track cycling world champion and world record-holder" per her website.

Ivy claimed in the article that there is "data that's currently available" that shows there is no advantage transgender women have over cisgender women. Neither Unilad -- which describes itself as "a major youth platform for breaking news and relatable viral content" --or Ivy provides the source for such data and Lead Stories was unable to find it published in a credible journal of science. On the other hand, the British Journal of Sports Medicine has published a study showing that transgender athletes have a performance advantage over cisgender ones. It is one of the science publishers selected for inclusion in the National Library of Medicine and does not appear on the Stop Predatory Journals lists of hijacked, predatory and bogus journals that publish sub-standard papers.

On May 12, 2021, Lead Stories reached out to Dr. Timothy A. Roberts, M.D., MPH, the fellowship director of the adolescent medicine fellowship at Children's Mercy Kansas City, by email for comment on this claim. He is co-author of the British Journal of Sports Medicine paper: -- "Effect of gender affirming hormones on athletic performance in transwomen and transmen: implications for sporting organisations and legislators."

He responded with,

Before starting hormones transwomen have a performance advantage in speed and strength over cis-women. This advantage starts to shrink as soon as transwomen start hormones. In our study, after two years on hormones there is no longer a difference in strength, but transwomen still have a 12% advantage over cis-women in 1 1/2 mile run times ...Transmen caught up with cis-men in athletic performance after 1 year on hormones.

Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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