Implications of gender-affirming endocrine care for sports participation

Moreland, Ethan, Cheung, Ada ORCID: 0000-0002-7158-8804, Hiam, Danielle ORCID: 0000-0003-0135-329X, Nolan, Brendan J ORCID: 0000-0001-8836-165X, Landen, Shanie ORCID: 0000-0002-7658-030X, Jacques, Macsue ORCID: 0000-0002-4337-7022, Eynon, Nir ORCID: 0000-0003-4046-8276 and Jones, Patrice ORCID: 0000-0002-4948-1445 (2023) Implications of gender-affirming endocrine care for sports participation. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 14. ISSN 2042-0188 (In Press)


Many transgender (trans) individuals utilize gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) to promote changes in secondary sex characteristics to affirm their gender. Participation rates of trans people in sport are exceedingly low, yet given high rates of depression and increased cardiovascular risk, the potential benefits of sports participation are great. In this review, we provide an overview of the evidence surrounding the effects of GAHT on multiple performance-related phenotypes, as well as current limitations. Whilst data is clear that there are differences between males and females, there is a lack of quality evidence assessing the impact of GAHT on athletic performance. Twelve months of GAHT leads to testosterone concentrations that align with reference ranges of the affirmed gender. Feminizing GAHT in trans women increases fat mass and decreases lean mass, with opposite effects observed in trans men with masculinizing GAHT. In trans men, an increase in muscle strength and athletic performance is observed. In trans women, muscle strength is shown to decrease or not change following 12 months of GAHT. Haemoglobin, a measure of oxygen transport, changes to that of the affirmed gender within 6 months of GAHT, with very limited data to suggest possible reductions in maximal oxygen uptake as a result of feminizing GAHT. Current limitations of this field include a lack of long-term studies, adequate group comparisons and adjustment for confounding factors (e.g. height and lean body mass), and small sample sizes. There also remains limited data on endurance, cardiac or respiratory function, with further longitudinal studies on GAHT needed to address current limitations and provide more robust data to inform inclusive and fair sporting programmes, policies and guidelines.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1177/20420188231178373
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords gender affirming hormone therapy, gender affirmation, sports participation, athletic performance
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