Department Chair:
Martin Thomson-Jones

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Handley

Department Email:

Phone: 440 775 8390
Fax: 440 775 8084

King Buiding 105
10 North Professor Street
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Visiting Speaker Series

Visiting Speaker Series


 Including Trans Athletes in Sports: 

Analyzing Principles and Policies

of Fairness and Competition


Rachel McKinnon

College of Charleston


In this paper, we examine the legal and ethical foundation for inclusion of transgender athletes in competitive sport, drawing on IOC principles and relevant Court of Arbitration for Sport decisions. We argue that the inclusion of trans athletes in competition commensurate with their legal gender is the most consistent position with these principles of fair and equitable sport. We suggest that biological restrictions, such as endogenous testosterone limits, are not consistent with IOC and CAS principles. While CAS rulings are consistent with the exclusion of some trans athletes, those very rulings rely on evidence that can be questioned, as well as internal inconsistencies in reasoning. We explore the implications for recognizing that endogenous testosterone values are a “natural physical trait” and that excluding legally recognized women for high endogenous testosterone values constitutes prima facie discrimination on the basis of a natural physical trait. We suggest that the justificatory burden for such prima facie discrimination is unlikely to be met. Thus, in place of a limit on endogenous testosterone for women (whether cisgender, transgender, or intersex), we argue that "legally recognized gender" is most fully in line with IOC and CAS principles. We close with considering and responding to some common objections to a "legal gender" policy.


Thursday, September 14th, 4:30 p.m.

King 343


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