The inclusion of transgender athletes in sport is a difficult topic to understand and prescribe rules for, not least in a sport like weightlifting where the difference in ability between men and women is the greatest of all Olympic sports at around 40%, compared with the 10-12% average across all other sports.
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Jordan Feigenbaum, owner of Barbell Medicine and author of the article ‘Shades of Gray: Sex, Gender, and Fairness in Sport‘, a 13,000-word tour de force on the topic, joined us on the WH podcast to talk about the difficulties of drawing a line on transgender athletes in sport, specifically in weightlifting. If you want to see some of Jordan’s credentials, they have been included at the bottom of the page.
Jordan was able to summarise for us any and all available literature on the matter of transgender athletes in weightlifting. What makes this whole topic so difficult to draw conclusions on is that there is a dearth of information on this topic from the scientific community. As such, all strong beliefs held by people on the subject are likely ignorant, lacking in supportive information. Though cliched and overused, the word ‘nuance’ has never been more pertinent or useful to the weightlifting world
- The relevance of testosterone levels, chromosomal makeup, and other physiological parameters when it comes to determining gender eligibility policy
- The magnitude of the gender gap based on physiological differences as well as social pressures
- The residual benefits of being a man with regard to athletic performance
- The problem with using testosterone levels as a way of delineating between gender categories in weightlifting
- Additional genetic advantages that occur independently of sex or gender, and their inclusion in sport
- Where we go from here…
Jordan Feigenbaum – credentials
Jordan has an academic background including a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master of Science in Anatomy and Physiology, and Doctor of Medicine. Jordan also holds accreditations from many professional training organizations including the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, USA Weightlifting, CrossFit, and is a former Starting Strength coach and staff member.