The Munk Debates Podcast

The Munk Debates Podcast

The Munk Debates podcast is an extension of the main stage events - in subject, speaker selection, tone and format. It will introduce the iconic brand - and its engaging debates about significant issues of our time. Audiences will hear strong and passionate arguments from both sides of an issue so they will have enough information to make up their own minds about where they stand.... Show More

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January 27, 2021 45 min
For almost a century now the international sporting community has grappled with the question of how to determine who gets to compete in the female sports category.  Fifty years ago the question was answered with humiliating physical exams, but in more recent decades most international sporting federations have embraced a science focused approach. The International Olympic Committee, for example, uses testosterone levels considerably above the female range, not gender, as the main determinant of who gets to compete in the women’s elite sport. But last October, World Rugby made international headlines when it announced a very different approach. The governing body’s new guidelines prohibit transgender athletes from playing elite women’s rugby because of concerns about the safety of players. Advocates for trans athletes say that these guidelines are discriminatory not least because they underestimate the extent to which hormone therapy and surgery diminish the biological advantages of being born male. They also argue that it’s dangerous for international sporting bodies to try and regulate the factors that go into superior performance - a complex matter that cannot be reduced to a gender binary. Advocates for women’s sport say that for reasons of basic fairness and safety more governing bodies should develop guidelines that bar biological males from participating in female sport. They argue that trans women who are born male enjoy immense physical advantages that are not eliminated through testosterone therapy or surgery. Female athletes argue that the increasing participation of trans women in their division is pushing them off of the podium and undermining the whole reason behind creating a women’s sports category in the first place. Arguing for the motion is Linda Blade, former track and field champion, professional track and field coach, and President of Alberta Athletics. Arguing against the motion is Joanna Harper, a trans athlete, adviser to the International Olympic Committee on gender and sport, and author of Sporting Gender: The History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Sources: 60 Minutes Australia, CBC, The Economist, World Rugby, Sky News, WTNH News 8, Fox News, CTV News, KTMF/SWX, Daily Blast Live The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg.   For detailed show notes on the episode, head to Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to   To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events. This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue - The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -   Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions Senior Producer: Christina Campbell Editor: Kieran Lynch Producer: Marilyn Mazurek Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja
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