A former pilot in the Navy has crushed arguments against transgender athletes with a viral Twitter thread.
On Monday (March 4), transgender ex-Naval aviator Brynn Tannehill took aim at the anti-trans rhetoric voiced by the likes of tennis legend Martina Navratilova and Olympic medallists Sharron Davies and Kelly Holmes in recent weeks.
The American veteran, who has authored a book busting anti-trans myths, wrote that the debate over trans athletes “won’t seem to die,” which she said was frustrating as “the current system is not broken.
1. The transgender athlete won’t seem to die. This is so frustrating, because from a logical standpoint, the answer is so freaking obvious: the current system is not broken. It does not need fixing.
— Brynn Tannehill (@BrynnTannehill) March 4, 2019
“It does not need fixing.”
Tannehill’s thread appeared to resonate with people, as it received more than 1,300 retweets and nearly 3,000 likes at the time of writing.
Brynn Tannehill points out how few transgender people are high-profile sportspeople
Tannehill, who lives in Virginia with her wife and children, explained that no trans people had made it to the top of any major sports.
“Quick test: name a transgender Olympian off the top of your head,” posed Tannehill. “You can’t, because since the IOC (International Olympic Committee) started allowing transgender people to compete in 2004 there hasn’t been one.
“The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has allowed transgender people to compete without surgery since 2011, and there has not been a single dominant transgender athlete anywhere in college sports.
“These constitute large scale, longitudinal tests of the system with millions of athletes as a sample, and the IOC and NCAA rules for transgender athletes are clearly sufficient to preserve the integrity of sports at this time,” she stated.
“15+ years and millions of test subjects is bigger, and longer, than any clinical trial of a drug that I can think of.
“The development and deployment of the F-22A, the world’s most advanced stealth fighter, lasted roughly as long,” Tannehill pointed out.
“The clinical evidence and subject matter opinion aligns with the observed results: removal of testosterone for a year is sufficient to remove competitive advantage.
“In terms of testing this hypothesis, there is literally no disagreement between various results.”
Brynn Tannehill says there’s nothing to fear from transgender athletes
The former officer then argued that anti-trans arguments were more likely to result in even more trans people feeling isolated than they already do.
She wrote: “The arguments from the other side are either anecdotes (What about so-and-so who won some mid-level event?) or are a form of fearmongering (Transgender women will start dominating women’s sports in the future!) that ignores the large scale, real-world testing of the policies.
“The implied ‘solutions’ of ‘well, they can compete against men or get their own league’ replaces a speculative harm with an actual one, because no harm to sport is happening now, but either of the proposed ‘solutions’ represents a de facto ban on transgender athletes.”
Tannehill explained: “Testosterone, which the NCAA and IOC regulate, is a key factor in performance. Because trans women lack it, they cannot hope to compete against men.”
Trans veteran Brynn Tannehill argues against segregating transgender people
In the thread, Tannehill also argued against the creation of transgender-only competitions or leagues.
She wrote: “There simply aren’t enough transgender people for them to ‘get their own league,’ nor would there be enough public interest to fund such events even if you could find 32 world class transgender fencers. Or 16 crew teams.
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“On top of that, segregating transgender people from society, and driving them from public life, is what the right wing wants.
“Separate but equal never works out that way.”
“I’m frustrated as hell that we’re still fighting this battle. The empirical evidence all points one way.”
— Transgender veteran Brynn Tannehill
Tannehill added that if in the future, we see “a disproportionate number of transgender women” winning at the highest level of sport, then it would make sense to reevaluate.
“But for now, there is no data-based evidence that the system is broken,” she wrote.
“Athletic leagues do this all the time: if something is giving people a competitive advantage, they ban it.”
Tannehill continued: “I’m frustrated as hell that we’re still fighting this battle. The empirical evidence all points one way.
“We have years of data and huge sample set. The alternative is hurting a minority group for no measurable gain (you can’t have less than zero trans Olympic athletes).”
She added: “We have thoroughly field tested the hypothesis that transgender athletes will dominate if they are allowed to compete, and statistically we can reject this hypothesis with a high degree of certainty.”