Many comments have stated that those opposed to transgender mixed martial arts competitors are just too bigoted to pay attention to the "huge body of scientific literature showing there is no difference between biological females and transgender females".
Stop right there.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts. Post-operative, post-pubertal transgender male to female adults is hardly a large population. Multiply that small percentage by the number who elect to participate in elite level sports - of any type - and you get a tinier fraction. Now, select from that tiny fraction the percentage who are in mixed martial arts and the total number of studies you come up with is - zero.
I went to PubMed - the publication database of the National Library of Medicine - and I did find a 2005 review of the literature Gender Identity and Sport: Is the playing field level?
As of 2005, it was stated,
In fact, there are no published, peer reviewed studies on the performance related sequelae of the commonly prescribed feminising hormone treatment regimens.
ONE document on a website mentioned ONE athlete who was tested and fell "well within the normal range for females". Before you get very far on this one person, let me point out the difference between peer-reviewed journals and web sites. I can say anything I want on here.
I tested my guinea pigs and found that there was no significant difference between their intellect and Joe Rogan. Also, I have met Joe Rogan and my guinea pigs have significantly more hair. See photo of guinea pig attached as proof.
The thing is, half of that is bullshit. The part about meeting Joe Rogan and the guinea pigs having more hair is true. In fact, guinea pigs are only slightly more intelligent than a box of hair, which they somewhat resemble.
Peer-reviewed articles, on the other hand, are read by people who are experts in the field who analyze your methods, results and conclusions and turn down your paper for publication if it does not meet the criteria for adequate scientific research.
The article goes on to say
for athletes who undergo reassignment after puberty, there remains the possibility that residual testosterone induced attributes could influence performance capacity, and thus it could be logically argued that the decision to permit participation or not should be made on a sport by sport basis.
This article also mentions, as many commenting on the mixed martial arts issue have, that the International Olympic Committee policy allows for transgender athletes to compete as female if they have had gender re-assignment surgery and two years hormonal treatment. However, it also notes that NO transgender athletes have been acknowledged as competing in the Olympics.
In fact, to complicate matters further, there was one transgender athlete from the U.S. who did try out for the 2012 Olympics. This athlete was a female to male transgender person but competed in the WOMEN'S division. She planned to complete gender re-assignment surgery after the Olympics. She did not make the team for the same reasons anyone else didn't make the team - her throwing distance did not place her in the top three.
A Canadian athlete who was a male to female transgender person competed in cycling but not at the Olympics, as she did not meet the qualifying times required. She commented on an article that this was not due to ability but rather to coping with family issues (her father was dying of cancer).
So, here is what I was able to discover in searching the scientific literature:
- No evidence of any transgender athlete competing in the Olympics.
- No data on transgender athletes competing in any combat sports other than the one person who has been recently featured in the news.
- One literature review from the British Journal of Sports Medicine stating that the issue should be considered on a sport to sport basis.
I'll have more to say on statistics and data relevant to this point on my statistics blog later, but for now, speaking of statistics, I have to get some work done for a client.
UPDATE: The tiny bit of data I COULD find related to transgender male to female and mixed martial arts specifically is here. No one to date has sent me links to any other relevant studies, although a lot of people have called me names, which , I should point out, is not the same thing.