WASHINGTON, D.C. Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) and Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) condemn the decision by USA Swimming to make eligibility to participate in women‘s swimming contingent on arbitrary testosterone levels. 

On the heels of the decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to wash its hands of responsibility for determining who can participate in women’s sports, USA Swimming has decided to prioritize transgender inclusion over equal opportunity for female athletes. In so doing, USA Swimming joins the NCAA in putting female athletes last.

The new policy, which endorses the participation of male-bodied athletes in women’s sports, requires elite/college level male-to-female transgender swimmers to show evidence that “the concentration of testosterone in the athlete’s serum has been less than 5 nmol/L (as measured by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry) continuously for a period of at least thirty-six (36) months before the date of application.”

A comprehensive review of the scientific literature released last summer by IWLC and IWF reveals that hormone therapy does not eliminate the male athletic advantage over females. 

While the normal testosterone range for post-pubescent males is 7.7 to 29.4 nmo/L, most females (including elite athletes) have testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nmo/L

Perhaps more importantly, many of the changes brought about by increased levels of testosterone during male puberty (such as changes to skeletal architecture) are permanent and unalterable by testosterone reduction later in life. Testosterone suppression will not, for example, make a person shorter or reduce a person’s wingspan. 

Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, said, “USA Swimming’s insistence that there is some way to eliminate the athletic advantage that post-pubescent males have over females denies science. But it also ignores the fact that this is not only about fair competition – it is also about equal opportunity to compete at all.” 

Braceras continued, “In competitive sport, not everybody makes the team or gets a scholarship. And not all of those who make the team get to compete. Allowing male-bodied athletes to compete on limited roster teams inevitably means that there are fewer opportunities for female athletes (to be recruited, to receive a scholarship, or to participate in competitions).”

“Make no mistake, taking athletic opportunities away from female athletes violates Title IX.”

Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at IWF and IWLC, added, “We are disappointed that USA Swimming chose not to stand up for female athletes. Allowing biological males to compete in women’s events undermines the entire rationale behind single-sex competition, which is premised on the reality of biological sex differences.”

To read the Competition report, click HERE.

For more information, contact Meghan Agostinelli at [email protected].



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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.