Joanna Harper

  • Doctoral Researcher
Start date: October 2019
Primary supervisor: Dr Emma O'Donnell
Secondary supervisor(s): Dr Richard Blagrove / Dr Richard Ferguson

Joanna Harper has been informally studying transgender athletes for several years, is the first author on four peer-reviewed papers on the subject and has earned previous undergraduate and master’s degrees in physics and medical physics respectively. 


Effects of Hormone Therapy on Cardiovascular and Muscular Function in Transgender Athletes; a longitudinal case study on an elite cyclist. The cyclist is to be tested in the sports lab for cycling power, aerobic and anaerobic capabilities, upper and lower body strength, cardiovascular functioning, hormone values, anthropometry, and muscle biopsy, both prior to and after hormone therapy.

Physiology of Transgender vs Cisgender Athletes; a cross-sectional study. Two sets of athletes are to be tested for anthropometry, aerobic and anaerobic capabilities, upper and lower body strength, and hormone levels.

External Activities

Speaker: 2021 ACSM meeting, 2019 BASEM meeting, 2018 BASEM spring conference, 2018 FIMS World Conference, 2019 IASR World Conference, 2021 Sports, Medicine, and Health Summit, 2019 and 2017 EFSMA meetings and several other conferences.

Invited Guest Lecturer: 2020 Oxford Brooks University.

Consultant: World Rowing 2019-2021, World Athletics 2018-2019

Ad Hoc Advisor: International Olympic Committee 2015-2019

Associate Editor, British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Reviewer for several journals.

Featured Publications

  • Harper J, O'Donnell E, Sorouri Khorashad B, McDermott H, Witcomb GL. How does hormone transition in transgender women change body composition, muscle strength and haemoglobin? Systematic review with a focus on the implications for sport participation. Br J Sports Med. 2021;55(15):865-872. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-103106
  • Harper J. Race times for transgender athletes. Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities 2015;6:1–9.
  • Harper J, Lima G, Kolliari-Turner A, et al. The Fluidity of Gender and Implications for the Biology of Inclusion for Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2018;17(12):467-472. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000543
  • Harper J, Martinez-Patino MJ, Pigozzi F, Pitsiladis Y. Implications of a Third Gender for Elite Sports. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2018;17(2):42-44. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000455
  • Harper, J. 2018. Athletic gender. Law and Contemporary Problems 80 (139): 139–53.
  • Pitsiladis Y, Harper J, Betancurt JO, et al. Beyond Fairness: The Biology of Inclusion for Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2016;15(6):386-388. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000314
  • Hamilton BR, Lima G, Barrett J, et al. Integrating Transwomen and Female Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD) into Elite Competition: The FIMS 2021 Consensus Statement [published correction appears in Sports Med. 2021 Apr 9;:]. Sports Med. 2021;51(7):1401-1415. doi:10.1007/s40279-021-01451-8