Study Used to Defend Trans Athletes Turns Out To Be Amateur Junk Science


Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been called “the greatest athlete who ever lived.”

Joyner-Kersee, in case you don’t know, is a former female track and field Olympian who set record after record while wowing fans across the world.

When she won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she clinched her victory by running the 800-meter competition in 2:11.78, according to The Undefeated.

The “greatest athlete who ever lived” won an Olympic gold medal after running the 800-meter race in a hair under two minutes and 12 seconds.

However, if she was a man, she wouldn’t have even placed in the top 100 … among high schoolers … in Florida.

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But what should be clear to everyone — that biological males have a genetic competitive advantage — isn’t obvious to some.

One of the most controversial topics within the gender identity debate is whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in their non-biological gender class.

For example, should a male be allowed to identify as a woman and then compete in a female track and field event, or in female wrestling, or in female cycling?

Do you think men who identify as women should be allowed to compete with biological females?

But when that controversial issue arises, many on the left and in the establishment media employ a similar tactic.

They refer to the work of Joanna Harper, a scientist and long-distance runner who authored a 2015 study on the topic, to defend their position.

The study in question found that “the testosterone suppression slowed [biologically male runners] down, to the extent that they were competing at about the same level against women as they had been against me,” according to The Daily Caller.

The results of Harper’s study are among the most common rebuttals to the claim that biological males have an advantage when competing against biological females.

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However, the study has many flaws, and may actually prove nothing.

“I’m certainly not suggesting that one study of eight athletes in one sport is in any sense a definitive study,” Harper admitted to The Daily Caller.

“But it was a start, and it’s got people interested in doing more research. There’s probably ten, twenty more years, probably, of work that needs to be done on this, but we’ve started.”

While it appears Harper, who was born a male but identifies as a woman, may not have meant to deceive, The Daily Caller pointed out that the study is “riddled with scientific problems.”

Specifically, the sample size — eight runners — was far too small, and the data collection methodology was flawed.

Even Harper admits that.

“Harper was able to verify just half of the times for six of the runners, and most of them did not submit times for all of the distances looked at in the study — 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon,” the outlet noted.

“There was no control group, since this was a retrospective study, and no control for factors such as time spent training before and after transition, the kind of courses and distances run, injuries, and other potentially significant factors. Harper noted three of the runners reported factors other than testosterone suppression that clearly impacted their scores.”

For instance, one of the runners sustained an injury, one gained weight and another lost motivation after transitioning and stopped running.

The Daily Caller’s report referenced several experts and a second study — all of which confirmed the flaws in Harper’s study.

“It is some evidence,” Jay Kadane, a statistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Daily Caller.

“Is it conclusive? Certainly not,” Kadane added. “There’s just a lot we don’t know. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good and honest first try.”

Still, the left continues to wield Harper’s study like a sword against any claim that biologically male athletes who identify as female may have an advantage in some sports — a point even Harper concedes.

“Powerlifting, of course there’s some technique to it, but it’s almost all strength,” Harper told The Daily Caller.

“And there might be a valid point in not having transgender women and cisgender women compete for the same prizes.”

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G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal.
G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal and vice president of digital content of Liftable Media.

After graduating law school from the Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, Mr. Hair spent a decade as an attorney practicing at the trial and appellate level in Arkansas and Tennessee. He represented clients in civil litigation, contractual disputes, criminal defense and domestic matters. He spent a significant amount of time representing indigent clients who could not afford private counsel in civil or criminal matters. A desire for justice and fairness was a driving force in Mr. Hair's philosophy of representation. Inspired by Christ’s role as an advocate on our behalf before God, he often represented clients who had no one else to fight on their behalf.

Mr. Hair has been a consultant for Republican political candidates and has crafted grassroots campaign strategies to help mobilize voters in staunchly Democrat regions of the Eastern United States.

In early 2015, he began writing for Conservative Tribune. After the site was acquired by Liftable Media, he shut down his law practice, moved to Arizona and transitioned into the position of site director. He then transitioned to vice president of content. In 2018, after Liftable Media folded all its brands into The Western Journal, he was named executive editor. His mission is to advance conservative principles and be a positive and truthful voice in the media.

He is married and has four children. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
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