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Lucy Frazer Calls for Transgender Women to be Banned From Professional Football – Here’s Why Her Argument is Flawed

Earlier this week, the UK Culture Secretary, Lucy Frazer, stated her belief that transgender women should be banned from competing in professional women’s football. Her stance, and more importantly the reasons behind it, is a familiar one.

“I think it’s very important that women are able to compete against women,” Frazer told Sky News. “If you’re not biologically a woman, you have a competitive advantage.”

The idea that transgender females have a genetic edge when it comes to sports is, at least superficially, a valid argument. Research shows that people who go through adolescence as males produce up to 20 times more testosterone than the opposite sex which leads to those having larger hearts and lungs, producing more red blood cells, and having a higher capacity to build more muscle mass.

Clearly this can have a major impact on sports performance. Frazer specifically mentions swimming and rowing as examples where authorities have stepped in to prevent this gap in ability becoming a factor. But the comparison being applied to football is naive.

Sports like swimming and rowing are examples where success is measured by how quickly an athlete can get from point A to point B. The quicker you are, the better you are. There is no room for subjectivity. Which is why governing bodies are attempting to ensure that the playing field remains as level as possible.

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For example, Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100m sprint at the 2023 World Athletics Championships with a time of 10.65. This is much faster than the average time of 13.1 seconds for males under the age of 30. Yet Richardson would still not reach the 10 second threshold to qualify for the men’s event at the Olympics.

The same applies for all so-called CGS sports, where centimeters, grams and seconds are the determiners of victory. As someone who is a practicing personal trainer, including for a professional athlete, I have seen first hand that there is a difference between the limitations some of my female clients have in terms of their ability to squat with heavy weight, for example, in comparison to my male clients. That is not to say that the women I train do not perform impressive feats of strength. They absolutely do. In fact, on average they show quicker initial progress. That doesn’t change the fact that there is a difference in their aptitude.

But football is not like CGS sports. The average height of the England’s women’s squad for the 2023 World Cup was 5”3. Jill Scott is 5”11. In theory, she has a major advantage over the rest of the squad, but there is a reason she has retired. Lionel Messi has won the most Ballon d’Ors in history. That’s in spite of his perceived height disadvantage.

Usain Bolt, the fastest human of all time, attempted to switch sports after calling time on his legendary career. This is a man who was able to maximise his already exceptional fast twitch muscle fibres to smash all records in his discipline. With such an advantage, it stands to reason that you could play him up front, put the ball in behind the defenders for him to run onto, and there you have the secret formula to winning the Champions League.

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Spoiler, Bolt didn’t make it. Whether it was down to a lack of footballing IQ, understanding of tactics and how to carry them out, or his technical capability. The reality is that the Jamaican jumped into the deep end and drowned.

Ultimately, these are the tangibles that make a professional footballer. If you have these in abundance, that is going to be a greater advantage than your height or muscle mass. Especially in the way the game is evolving. In the era of Pep Guardiola, who has won three Champions League’s managing teams full of distinctive artists, your ability to carry out instruction with precise execution is what makes you irreplaceable. That is not to say that it doesn’t carry some weight. Manchester City’s treble winning campaign was led by Erling Haaland, who is no doubt aided by his stature and physical prowess. But, without Bernado Silva and Phil Foden, the Norwegian’s strengths are not emphasised to the same degree.

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That is the magic of football. The whole premise of the FA Cup is that teams made up of plumbers and scaffolders could conceivably find themselves matched up against professionals who have access to everything they need to get the most out of their game. It is ‘unfair’ on paper. Yet as a country, we celebrate this.

That is what Lucy Frazer should be doing. Rather than making comparisons that lack substance, we should be attempting to understand how the nuances of football make them completely different. From there, we can appreciate how welcoming the beautiful game has the potential to be.


  • Callum Bishop

    Callum is a sports journalist who boasts a variety of experience in producing written and video content. If it involves kicking, throwing or hitting a ball, best believe that Callum is watching and covering it. Despite popular belief, he would never have made it pro regardless of any knee injuries. However, he absolutely lives off the time he nutmegged a Premier League player during five aside.