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Read any news story about gender and sports these days, and it will almost always be about transgender issues. “Should transwomen be allowed to play in women’s leagues,” that sort of thing. So naturally, my assumption was that transgenderism was in play upon first encountering this story:


But, nope. Trans has nothing to do with it. For one, this is clearly a co-ed league, and there is no mention of this champ, or of her opponents, being trans. A cis girl went into a wrestling meet, kicked the asses of her cis male opponents, and walked away with the gold. That’s it; that’s the story. And just look at this badass’s cocky alpha grin versus the sullen dejection of her runners up. Fucking awesome.

Of course, this does bring up the question of how, exactly, a girl can physically not only go toe-to-toe with at least somewhat post-pubertal boys, but also come out on top. The boys should have a definite advantage in upper body strength within the same weight class. Right?

Is she juicing? I have to doubt it. The effects of illicit testosterone are far more noticeable on females than males, as East German women’s athletes could’ve attested, and this girl couldn’t exactly pass for Barry Bonds. Besides… roiding up, and thereby risking her college career/scholarships, just for a high school title? Really?

More likely: she’s naturally in the upper regions of the 99th percentile of girls her size in terms of strength and stamina. (I mean, someone has to be, right?) And while the average girl will of course bench far less than an average boy of the same age and weight, that’s also just it: average. The remarkable variability among specimens of our peculiar species results in some astonishing X-men-level outliers, from certain East African lineages owning the sport of marathon running, to this girl beating out trained, practicing boy wrestlers, to an overweight, middle-aged diabetic patient I once saw with a resting heart rate rivaling that of Tour de France bicyclists.

People have no problem accepting the existence of Hawkins-level outliers in intelligence… but in the physical arena, we still have a hard time wrapping our minds around it.

Sadly, the term “outlier” goes both ways, and I speak with some authority. If the girl from above has male upper body strength through some weird condition or gene, then I have precisely the opposite situation. I don’t know why, but I never really got the teenage-boy surge of strength to my arms, to the point where I use weights at the gym equivalent to what women there use… my last personal trainer actually made fun of me for it. There’s been a pretty low ceiling on what I can bench even with regular workouts. A girl once broke up with me because she jokingly pinned me down one time… and I couldn’t get her off me. (I still have no problem with lower body strength… in high school I never understood why I could crush it with the leg press machine but practically nothing else.)

Poor me? Nah; in the list of reasons why my life is shit, it doesn’t even break the top 100. I have to be careful not to arm wrestle any girl I date, that’s all. Or, perhaps, finesse the inevitable jar-opening request.

I just enjoy the outliers of the human experience in all its forms and how we defy stereotypes. Whether it’s the female ass-kicker above, or a man who excels at early childhood education or being a stay-at-home dad for his high-earning wife, or the fact that the NFL’s current best two quarterbacks are black and its best running back is white. Or seeing certified, card-carrying, neanderthal right-wing conservative activists refuse to bend the knee to the host of Celebrity Apprentice. Fucking break expectations. Smash boxes. Nobody remembers the followers. If you can’t be a leader, be a goddamn renegade. Never let them see you coming. It’s no guaranteed path to happiness, sure. But for some, it’s the only way to live.