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NBC Suggests There May Be ‘Very Little Evidence’ of a Gender Performance Gap in Swimming

Students on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa., in 2017. (Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

NBC News had a segment on the UPenn trans swimmer in which they managed to get almost every detail wrong, even the athlete’s name in the initial introduction (it’s Lia Thomas, not Lia Thompson.)

During the segment, the presenter, Hallie Jackson, claimed that “ten states have recently passed some kind of bill banning trans athletes from participating in youth sports.” The states she is referring to have done no such thing. What they did was ban athletes from competing against the opposite sex in single-sex leagues. Athletes who identify as trans are free to compete with their natal sex, as some continue to do. For instance, Iszac Henig — a female who identifies as male — still swims for the women’s team at Yale.

Jackson then introduces Jo Yurcaba, a reporter for the LGBT branch of NBC News, “NBC Out.” Yurcaba begins by saying that there are those who believe “trans women in women’s sports is unfair to cisgender women,” since they “don’t receive the advantages of higher testosterone during puberty.” However, Yurcaba claims, such voices are in contention with those who say, “there is very little scientific evidence that those advantages carry over for trans women after transition.”

Just to get a sense of how utterly ridiculous this claim is, consider the following graphics created by boysvswomen.com, comparing the swimming times of the U.S.’s top high-school boy swimmers with those of Olympic women’s finalists. Are we really to believe that a change of wardrobe and fiddling around with testosterone levels magically remove this massive gulf of a performance gap?

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