|Boris Johnson added his voice to the frustrating debate on trans women in sports this week. “I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events,” he told Sky News, despite being "immensely sympathetic to people who want to transition".
Johnson's unprompted discussion of trans athletes comes just as a trans cyclist was barred from competing "despite meeting the body’s eligibility criteria for trans athletes."
Trans people are already dissuaded from participating in sports, and Johnson's 'off the cuff' remarks are not a helpful addition to the discussion. Doctors, academics, and sports psychologists tend to agree that bans on trans athletes will "balloon an apparent problem that doesn’t exist".
|There are many physiological differences that give people advantages in sports such as height or body shape, or environmental factors such as access to better resources. Testosterone, most discussed in trans female athletes, does not always have a correlation with athletic ability.
The policing of how women's bodies should look or operate is a dangerous rhetoric to push, affecting trans and cisgender women alike such as Caster Semenya who was told she can only compete if she alters her natural hormone production.
Semenya, and LGBTQIA+ Stonewall, advocate for a 'case-by-case' approach, rather than a blanket ban.