Statement to the Committee on HB 4042

by Mark Rippetoe | April 27, 2021

looking up at the capitol building

This is a statement I wrote for Beth Stelzer, my guest on a recent podcast regarding congenital men in women's sports. She submitted it to the Texas House committee working on HB 4042 at a hearing in Austin last week. It might be the first time some of them have heard the issue reduced to its essence.

My name is Mark Rippetoe. I am author of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, the best-selling book on barbell strength training in the history of publishing, and Practical Programming for Strength Training, likewise the best-selling book on strength training programming, both in their 3rd editions. I have trained women for strength for 42 years, and I am regarded as an expert on the subject of training for both men and women. A lifelong resident of Texas, I live and work in Wichita Falls.

I don't have to tell people of normal intelligence who are unblinded by politics that men and women have different physical capacities. To say otherwise is a lie, and is both biologically false and a direct contradiction of the phenomenology observed over the millennia of human existence. These differences can be summarized as “neuromuscular efficiency” – the ability to recruit muscles into contraction both explosively and completely. The data are very clear on this: the average Standing Vertical Jump (SVJ) for young men is 22 inches, and 14 inches for women, with the records being 46 inches and 31 inches for men and women respectively. Since the dawn of time, it has been recognized that boys and girls – and men and women – have different levels of neuromuscular efficiency. These differences are directly attributable to the effects of testosterone, and the primary effects of testosterone take place in utero – in the womb, starting at approximately 8 weeks post-conception.

Puberty finishes the process started in the womb, with the development of the familiar secondary sexual characteristics typical of the two physical sexes. But the neuromuscular aspects started in utero are far more important, to the extent that testosterone administered to female athletes has no significant effect on the Standing Vertical Jump.

The salient point here is that psychological gender is completely and utterly irrelevant to the physical reality of male/female sex and physical performance. They are entirely different issues. Sports – physical competitions that involve winning and losing, and numerical outcomes – are dependent on the physical realities of sex that started in the womb. These differences have been very wisely codified as Men's and Women's divisions in sports. In no traditional sport contested at the world level do men compete directly with women, for this obvious reason. In the contact sports, disregarding the physiological reality in favor of the political gets people seriously injured.

If the State of Texas feels the need to pander to the psychological fad of pretending that 2+2 actually equals whatever the aggrieved feel it should be, it loses an important opportunity to reinforce the predominance of reason and logic. If you want to let congenital men compete against congenital women because you are afraid to say “No,” you are complicit with the lie.

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