Rectal research

A new report by Policy Exchange, the right-wing think tank whose job is to give the Telegraph and Daily Mail some scary headlines and rubber-stamp whatever hateful policies the Tories want to bring in, is a great demonstration of what I’ve seen described as “rectal research”: the report’s supposed facts have clearly been pulled out of the author’s arse.

The report pretends to be an analysis of trans participation in sport, but it’s nothing of the sort: the figures it presents are complete fiction. For example, it claims that there are 527 trans women and 61 trans men participating in professional rugby; the correct figure is zero, as trans people are banned from the sport; before the ban there were fewer than 10 trans people taking part. It claims that there are nearly 9,000 trans people competing in professional swimming; again, the real number is zero. It claims nearly 500 trans competitors in athletics; the correct number is, again, zero.

The best example of this rectal research is in cycling, where it claims that there are over 4 million men and over 2 million women taking part in the sport: not riding for fun, but competing professionally. That’s ludicrous, as is the claim that there are over 16,000 trans athletes competing in the sport.

Update, 31/12: A number of people, including Vivian Wulf on Twitter, have investigated the source of the cycling numbers because they’re so clearly nonsense. The figures are taken from the Active Lives survey by Sport England, which wasn’t about elite sport: its cycling numbers tell you how many people used a bike at least twice in one month for more than ten minutes for the purpose of leisure, travel or sport. Policy Exchange took the number of positive respondents, multiplied it by the estimated proportion of trans people in the UK, and published it as supposed proof of a trans takeover in competitive cycling. 

In total, the Policy Exchange report claims that tens of thousands of trans women are competing professionally in sport. Given that the UK census – which anti-trans groups say overestimates the number of trans people in the UK – reports that there are 166,000 trans women in the UK, that would mean somewhere between one-seventh and one-fifth of all trans women are professional athletes.

It’s complete fiction, but it’s doing its job: it’s being reported in all the press as if it’s a credible document rather than the fever dream of anti-trans bigots, and those reports will be cited in future as proof of the entirely invented trans takeover of professional sports.

Once again, the brave and fearless British press proves Humbert Wolfe correct:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
thank God! The British journalist
But seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there’s no occasion to



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