Premier Danielle Smith’s calm and measured statement Alberta’s new Alberta approach to gender identity has ignited a predictable firestorm of protest. Our political leaders tend to distance themselves from what they rightfully perceive as a policy minefield, strewn with the all too familiar labels of “transphobe,” “bigot,” “far right,” “hateful,” and so on.

Alberta’s guidelines cover a range of thorny issues on the gender file, including age restrictions for medical and surgical interventions. I consider them sensible, but my special interest is the effect of biological males who identify as women on women’s sport.

On this, Smith was candid about “unfair disadvantages” young women and girls face in sporting competitions.

“There are obvious biological realities that give transgender female athletes a massive competitive advantage over women and girls,” she said.

“That is why the Alberta government will work with sporting organizations active in our province to ensure that women and girls have the choice to compete in a women’s only division in athletic competitions and are not forced to compete against biologically stronger transgender female athletes.”

Smith takes the position that men who identify as women (“transgender females,” she says) have every right to participate in sport, but that this right is well addressed by the retention of the women’s category for biological women, with the creation of an open category where both biological males and females are welcome.

This is the solution to the “fairness” problem I have been advocating for since 2019, when I was president of Athletics Alberta.

Mine was the sole voice of opposition to Canada’s entire sport bureaucracy, which stood foursquare in favour of male-born athletes self-declaring into women’s sport with no mitigation whatsoever – not even a requirement for hormone treatment to offset an acknowledged physical advantage.

Moreover, under the rubric of gender “fluidity,” natal male athletes are permitted to compete as a woman in one sport, and as a male in another, or as a woman one season and as a male in the next.

Indeed, in a 2019 public statement, Paul Melia, former CEO of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport characterized the idea of female biological sex as “obsolete.”

“I think it is time for the sport community to reexamine its approach to sport categorization,” he said. “When we ignore what we know about the broad spectrum of human experience in the area of biological sex and gender identity we risk violating the human rights of the people who do not fit an obsolete definition of a biological female. We cannot then turn around and justify the harm in the name of fairness.”

What is most heartbreaking is that female athletes in Canada do not get support for sex-based protection even from the one government-funded entity that is supposed to be advocating on their behalf, Canadian Women and Sport.

Canadian Women and Sport condemned Smith’s announcement last week.

“We denounce the policy announced by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to ban transgender girls and women from women’s sport in the province,” the group said.

Most gallingly, it added, “This policy is not based on evidence.”

No evidence?  There’s a mountain of evidence: male versus female athletic records; a vast archive of sport science literature on male versus female norms pertaining to all the various biomotor abilities; and anecdotal evidence galore of biological males who rank in the 200s to 300s of men’s sport suddenly ranking first or second in women’s sport.

As for “the science” that allegedly proves hormonal mitigation (and/or surgery) serves to level the playing field, consider that, to date, over nineteen peer review studies have shown that it is not possible to mitigate the male performance advantage through testosterone reduction. That is why the UK’s Sports Councils concluded in their 2021 Guidance for Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport that it is not possible to reconcile inclusion of male-born participants with safety and fairness to female athletes.

But, of course, Canadian sports policy bureaucrats have strayed so far beyond the looking glass that mitigation of the male advantage is not even relevant. Which begs the question as to why, if their theory is correct, we should have a women’s sports category at all.

At some point along this descent into madness, someone had to be the adult in the room. That “someone” turned out to be Premier Danielle Smith. Hopefully, as the tantrums command the media’s attention, she will keep in mind that polls routinely indicate that a majority of Canadians share her fair and balanced views.

Linda Blade is a sport performance professional with a PhD in kinesiology. She is the former president of Athletics Alberta and co-author, with Barbara Kay, of Unsporting: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport.


  • Linda Blade

    Linda Blade is a sport performance professional with a PhD in kinesiology. She is the former president of Athletics Alberta and co-author, with Barbara Kay, of Unsporting: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport.