(BY JL...hilariously, some people believe JL is Julia Long, as if she would do something like this anonymously!)
Sunday 18th August
The Times reported on Maxine Blythin, a transgender cricketer who plays for a women's cricket team.
Maxine already has a batting average of 124 and has scored four centuries playing on the Kent women’s team this season.
Maxine also plays cricket for Chesham. She plays not just on the women’s team, but also on the men’s. The men’s second XI, that is.
Twitter user @HubbleVicky was able to demonstrate for us the huge difference between Maxine's batting average playing on a second XI men's town team and Maxine's batting average playing on a women's county team.
You don't need to be familiar with the vagueries of cricket scoring to see the massive disparity between those numbers.
Monday 19th August
Maxine Blythin was in the news again. She is quoted in The Times expressing her hope to play women's cricket at the "highest level".
Women's cricket at a professional level is still in its infancy. It was only a few years ago that England gained their first full-time professional women's cricket team. Opportunities for women within the professional game remain scant.
A 2013 Telegraph article discussed (and rapidly dismissed) the possibility of a woman playing on the England men's team. It explained that the idea is not viable given that physical strength and power are essential in cricket. Men bowl around 20% faster and hit balls further and harder than women. (That's why the women's game uses slightly smaller and lighter balls and a shorter boundary.)
"A full-blooded whack from a female cricketer only goes two-thirds the way that a man's hit goes."
This is a crucial time for women’s cricket; the professional 100-ball league launches in England and Wales next year. The league will consist of both men's and women's teams and will offer a small number of women players the chance to forge a career and earn a living playing cricket.
Blythin indicated to The Times that she intends to take a place on one of these teams.
Wednesday 21st August
World Rugby announced that the Women’s Rugby World Cup is to be renamed the Rugby World Cup in a move to 'gender-neutral' branding.
Former England captain, Catherine Spencer, has attacked the decision to remove the word 'Women’s' from the world cup stating that “Women’s rugby could lose its identity”.
“We have been fighting for years to promote women’s rugby and to tell the world it is OK to be a woman and play rugby. By renaming the Women’s World Cup, I think we have lost that identity of celebrating women’s rugby."
So male and female competitions are both now just called "The World Cup'.
Can we just reflect for a moment on how very odd that decision is? What on earth is it meant to achieve?
Thursday 22nd August
BBC Sport Wales reported on transwoman, Kelly Morgan, who is playing rugby union for the Porth Harlequin Ladies team.
Born Nicholas Morgan, Kelly played rugby for East Wales as a teenager but quit the sport following an injury. Now 33, and having spent 18 months taking oestrogen as part of her transition, Kelly has decided to return to the game but is now playing on a women's team. Kelly is six feet tall, works as a lorry driver and has been nicknamed 'The Beast' by her teammates.
In the BBC article the captain of the team describes how Kelly "folded a girl like a deckchair" during a match. In another passage, now deleted from the original, the team coach revealed that Kelly had put him in hospital with a fractured ankle during a game of touch rugby. Touch rugby is a supposedly low-contact version of the sport, designed to eliminate the risk of injury.
Stranger yet, that piece of information magically disappeared from the original article. Luckily, Twitter user @RebelleYellow managed to take a screenshot.
The founder of the team, Brian Minty, is amused rather than concerned by Kelly's propensity to cause injury. He joked, "She's going to be a good, good player for the next few years, as long as we can stop her injuring players in training."
Current Welsh Rugby Union guidelines allow biological males to play on women's teams providing that blood-measured testosterone levels remain below 5nmol/litre, policies common to most rugby union teams.
Over to @HubbleVicky again. She investigated England RFU's transgender policies and found a considerable change had occurred between 2017 and 2019.
In 2017 the policies on trans inclusion stressed that the safety of players was the most important consideration.
In addition to the obvious concern about biological males having an unfair advantage over female players, their involvement may also prove dangerous. From the scrum to the line-out to tackling to collision, rugby is a high-contact and very physical sport. Consequently, injuries are common and can be extremely serious.
However, two years later and the policy is rather different*
So, just how dangerous is rugby? In September last year Pwllheli RFC player, Mathew Parry, dislocated the C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck as a result of a collision with another player on the pitch. The injury ended his career. A few months later Jessie Humber broke her neck during a tackle whilst playing for Plymouth Albion Ladies.
Tragically, in 2018 two French players died as a result of injuries they sustained on the pitch. Nicolas Chauvin died as the result of a cardiac arrest after breaking his neck whilst making a tackle and Louis Fajfrowski suffered a lethal fibrillation having been involved in a heavy tackle.
Furthermore, being a high contact sport, rugby has an extremely high rate of concussion and head injuries are a constant concern.
This is what happens even when opponents are equally matched in size, strength and power. Imagine what will happen when they're not.
* No prizes for guessing which organisation has been coaching England Rugby in the devising of their new policy.
Friday 23rd August
Sports scientist, Dr Ross Tucker, tweeted about his recent article on the inclusion of transwomen in female sports.
Dr Tucker has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and is a science and research consultant for World Rugby. In a recent article about allowing MtF trans competitors to take part in women's sports. He concluded that self-ID is not tenable and that the measuring of testosterone levels as a bench mark to inclusion is unlikely to be adequate.
He then used Twitter to comment on his original piece, stating that even after the lowering of testosterone levels, it seems highly likely that transwomen retain performance advantages.
"The biological principles for separation into men’s and women’s categories in sport are so strong that to overturn it requires exceptional evidence."
Martin Zeigler writing in The Times quotes Dr Tucker's research.
"Rugby and other sports may have to reassess their policies on transgender players after evidence has emerged that muscle strength stays relatively high after hormone treatment."
It certainly seems that whenever biological males compete against women they do exceptionally well. For example:
When competing among the Division II men in the 400m hurdles, Craig Telfer ranked 200th in 2016 and 390th in 2017. Now identifying as female and competing with Division II women Cece Telfer is national champion.
New Zealand weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, was born male but now identifies as a woman. She is enjoying success in female weightlifting and is hoping to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Dutch transgender cyclist, Natalie Van Gogh, became a member of the Swabo Ladies cycling team following transition and won a gold medal at the Dutch track championships in 2009.
Canadian transgender cyclist, Rachel McKinnon, has won a number of high-profile women’s races, including the UCI Masters Track World Championship.
Mary Gregory, a transgender weightlifter, caused controversy at a Weightlifting Federation competition in Virginia after winning every event in which she competed and smashed four women's worlds records.
Athlete Jonathan Eastwood, who is now identifying as a woman and called June, is going to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association women's events. June already has personal best times which rival those of the world's fastest female runners.
And it's not only records that are being smashed. In 2014 Fox inflicted career-ending injuries on opponent Tamika Brent, breaking her skull and causing concussion. Fallon Fox was born male but fought as a female in MMA competitions. Most shockingly, her opponents were not informed of her history.
While we wait for the relevant sporting bodies to stop conspicuously ignoring all the evidence that transwomen competing in women's sports is unfair and dangerous, perhaps the men who don't believe that ideology trumps reality provide safety and support to the women trying to raise the issue?