Trans Swimmer Points To Michael Phelps' 'Biological Advantages' While Defending Trans Athletes

Transgender swimmer and podcast host Schyuler Bailar claims that Michael Phelps is an example of why people shouldn't be excluded from competition based on biological advantages.

Bailar made this argument at the end of a podcast featuring transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. He argued that because Phelps has a longer torso and arms, plus he produces less lactic acid than the typical athlete, he has an advantage.

"All of these things give him a massive biological advantage. But his biological differences are celebrated. When they look at him. They say, 'Wow, what an amazing biological anomaly.' Does he have biological advantages? Absolutely. But so people say that that's grounds for disqualification?"

An overly literal interpretation of what people mean when they say transwomen should not be competing against women due to their biological advantage will lead you to this.

By this rationale, tall basketball players and short jockeys also have biological advantages. There's no standard for height or arm length, but there is for what a man and a woman are.

There will always be outliers. A biological man competing against women is not one of those outliers.

Phelps And Caster Semenya's "Biological Advantages"

Bailar also cited South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya. She was made to undergo gender verification testing after suspicions she may not have been female.

It turns out, Semenya is intersex and the IAAF requires her to undergo testosterone suppression in order to compete. According to the Olympic website, this is a rule in place for any female athlete with what they call differences of sexual development or DSD.

"Michael Phelps is allowed to keep his body as it is, and in fact, he's celebrated for all of his biological advantages," Bailar argued. "But Caster Semenya and other women like her are excluded. This extends to transgender women. When a trans woman is different, immediately it's called unfair, but the reality is that there are so many women who might be quote, too tall or too strong or too fast."

Of course, trans women are always different from biological women. That's why we have different words for them.

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Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.