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Blanket Bans of Trans Athletes Are a Mistake


Friday, April 26th, 2024


Today’s core story is about: Trans athletes.


U.S economic growth fell below 2% in the first quarter for the first time since 2022, missing economists’ expectations. Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the first quarter, down from 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to new data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Global military spending reached $2.4 trillion in 2023, up 6.8% from 2022. “The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” said Nan Tian, author of a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 

More than a quarter (28%) of people infected with COVID develop Long COVID. Around one in four Long COVID patients experience brain fog, while around one in three to four will develop anxiety or depression, according to a new study by researchers at the University of York in the U.K.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its fifth mass bleaching event in the past eight years. Just 3% of the surveyed southern reef, which has sometimes been spared from the worst bleaching, have not bleached, according to a new analysis by researchers at the University of Sydney.

Blanket Bans of Trans Athletes Are a Mistake

Ola Vista Photography

A new study by researchers at the University of Brighton in the U.K. challenges the notion that transgender women competing in women’s sports have a distinct physical advantage, advising against “precautionary bans and sport eligibility exclusions” that aren’t based on scientific research.

What to know: 

The study, which was partly funded by the International Olympic Committee, included 75 cisgender and transgender athletes (all trans athletes in the study completed more than one year of hormone therapy), examining their differences in strength, power, and aerobic capacity.  

  • The authors found that while trans women athletes had greater handgrip strength than cisgender women athletes, they also had lower lung function and scored worse on a jumping test measuring lower-body power.

  • The team also found trans women athletes had similar testosterone concentrations and bone density when compared to cisgender women athletes, and “notable disparities” in fat mass, fat-free mass, sports performance measures, and handgrip strength when compared to cisgender men athletes.

Why it matters: 

The authors say their work highlights the “urgent” need for longitudinal studies including trained athletes, and their work isn’t intended to suggest trans and cisgender women have no athletic differences at all.

  • Rather, the findings underscore the “complexity of transgender athlete physiology” and caution against excluding trans women athletes without further research.

  • “The main takeaway message is the requirement of international federations to treat trans women very differently to cis men,” said lead author Yannis Pitsiladis. “[R]esearch conducted comparing biological men to biological women is almost irrelevant in this debate and evidence from such comparisons should not be used to inform policy.” 



Vaccines Have Saved 154 Million Lives Over the Past 50 Years

A new study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) found global immunization efforts have saved an estimated 154 million lives over the past 50 years, the vast majority of which were infants (101 million).

Vaccines work: 

  • The study, which will be published in The Lancet, found vaccinations against 14 diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis B, polio, and tuberculosis, among others, directly contributed to reducing infant mortality by 40% globally, with the measles vaccine having the most significant impact (accounting for around 60% of the lives saved). 

  • According to the WHO, the findings suggest “immunization is the single greatest contribution of any health intervention” when it comes to infant mortality.




Women Doctors May Provide Better Care

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found patients have lower rates of mortality and hospital readmissions when treated by women physicians, with women patients seeing a greater benefit than men. 

Different care: 

  • The study found the mortality rate for women was 8.15% when treated by women physicians vs. 8.38% when treated by physicians who are men, while men treated by women had a mortality rate of 10.15% compared to 10.23% when treated by men.

  • “What our findings indicate is that female and male physicians practice medicine differently, and these differences have a meaningful impact on patients' health outcomes,” said lead author Yusuke Tsugawa. “Further research on the underlying mechanisms linking physician gender with patient outcomes, and why the benefit of receiving the treatment from female physicians is larger for female patients, has the potential to improve patient outcomes across the board.”




A new study by an international team of researchers revealed a direct correlation between plastic production and pollution, suggesting every 1% increase in plastic production is associated with a 1% increase in plastic pollution in the environment.

Linked pollution: 

  • The study, which is the first robust quantification of the relationship between plastic production and pollution around the globe, found fast-moving consumer goods (like packaged foods, cosmetics, dry goods, and other consumables) disproportionately contribute to plastic pollution, with just 56 companies accounting for more than half of all branded plastic pollution.

  • The relationship between plastic production and pollution was observed across geographies and widely varying waste management systems, suggesting reducing plastic production in the fast-moving goods sector would help reduce plastic pollution globally.


Human Brains Are Getting Larger

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis found humans brains have steadily increased in size for people born after the 1930s.

​​Big brains:

  • The study, which launched in 1948 and now includes second and third generations of participants, found people born in the 1970s had 6.6% larger brain volumes and nearly 15% larger brain surface areas than those born in the 1930s.

  • Brain structures such as white matter, gray matter, and the hippocampus also increased in size when comparing those born in the 1930s to those in the 1970s.  

Lower risk:

  • The researchers say the increased brain size could help reduce the risk of age-related dementia, since larger brain sizes tend to mean lower incidence. 

  • “Larger brain structures like those observed in our study may reflect improved brain development and improved brain health,” said lead author Charles DeCarli. "A larger brain structure represents a larger brain reserve and may buffer the late-life effects of age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer's and related dementias."


  • 4.3 million - The number of workers who will benefit from the Biden administration’s new rule expanding overtime coverage to employees earning up to $58,656 a year, according to a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. The figure includes 2.4 million women and 1 million people of color.   

  • 7 - The number of countries that produced nearly all of the electricity they consumed in 2021 and 2022 from renewable sources, according to new data compiled by researchers at Stanford University. The data also revealed another 40 countries that generated at least 50% of their electricity consumption from renewables.  

  • 23 - The number of named storms predicted to hit during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, far more than the average 14.4 named storms in the region each year from 1991 to 2020, according to a new report by researchers at Colorado State University. The report also predicts 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes this year, well above the 7.2 hurricanes and 3.2 major hurricanes the region has averaged.  

  • 67% - The percentage of U.S. Gen Zs and Millennials who describe themselves as “Broadway-curious,” meaning they’d like to learn more about live theater on Broadway, according to a new survey by producing group No Guarantees. When asked to name a show, 36% said the only title they knew was Hamilton, while less than half knew about long-running shows like Wicked (46%), Moulin Rouge (45%), and The Book of Mormon (44%).


Long Video. Learn how Chicago cleans 1.4 billion gallons of wastewater each day. (11 min) 

Short Video. Has the era of cheap streaming officially come to an end? (7 min)

Fun Video. Watch Japanese Olympic champion Ryoyu Kobayashi soar 291 meters (955 feet) to set a new world ski jump record. (1 min)

Good Read. A weekend read on how a century of Black westerns shaped Hollywood history. (2,264 words; 10 min)

Neat List. Check out America’s 25 most-polluted cities, according to the American Lung Association.


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Written by Ryan Wittler