One of the common and longstanding refrains among those who support the alleged right of biological males identifying as women to compete in women’s athletics is that most “trans women” do not, in fact, win the women’s athletic competitions that they enter. That is, in an effort to normalize the participation of those with male bodies in athletic events meant for those with female ones, trans activists and their allies point out that most male-bodied athletes are not dominant in women’s (or men’s) sports. 

This is, of course, correct. But it is also wholly irrelevant. 

No one born male should be competing in any athletic event designated “female” in any competition where size, speed, and strength—in which maleness gives one an indisputable advantage—are determinative of performance. Not because every person born male will win, but for three related reasons. 

First, because the elite heights of athletic performance are almost exclusively male, top male athletes competing against top female ones will inevitably rob women of success. Yes, male and female size, speed, and strength, respectively, exist on staggered bell curves. The average male tennis player could not, for example, beat Serena Williams. But, as Williams herself has acknowledged, her own male counterparts—that is, elite, world-class tennis players—would beat her every time. By the same token, some seven-year-olds can run faster than some 17-year-olds. But we separate athletic competitions by age in part because if we did not, the best 17-year-old would beat the best seven-year-old every time. 

Second, even those males who do not win a competition comprised predominantly of females will perform better than they would among fellow males, thereby skewing rankings and average times for what are supposed to be women’s competitions. My eight and seven-year-old sons ran cross country for the first time this past fall. Neither is likely to be an elite runner. In their age group, the seven-year-old is middling and the eight-year-old is competitive. Even at the elementary level, runners are separated by sex. If they were not, the seven-year-old would appear above average rather than average, and the eight-year-old would appear in the top quintile or decile rather than in the top third or quartile. So, as a group, non-elite male runners like my sons would displace girls from their rightful places in competition through the unearned advantage of being marginally taller and stronger—an advantage that grows exponentially once boys hit puberty, such that groups of top male high school soccer players handily beat the U.S. Women’s National Team in multiple scrimmages. 

Third and finally, while combining the sexes for grade school running or professional soccer might be merely unfair, in other contexts the inclusion of males in females’ competitions becomes patently dangerous. The U.S. Women’s soccer team may lose to high school boys, but precisely because they are all adult women and elite athletes, they are in a position to remain physically safe even in competition with males. For the average female soccer player at the high school level, though, having one or more of those boys on the field would be quite dangerous. Female athletes, especially those of the non-elite variety, are more likely to be injured by male athletes in contact sports because of the greater force behind the average male’s kicks and throws—let alone his punches.

In all, it’s long past time to reject the disingenuous claim that male athletes in female athletics are not such a big deal since most of them don’t win. After all, youth sports are supposed to be about more than winning. They’re supposed to inculcate work ethic, fairness, and sportsmanship—each of which is given the lie by trans activists’ insistence that males belong in females’ competitions.