Transgender athletes deserve the ability to compete.
Living in fear of losing a job, being denied rights, and being killed because someone does not agree with the decisions you have made should not be a worry for individuals. Many people in the transgender community live in a constant dismay of these things when trying to be themselves and do what makes them happy, especially when it comes to participation in sports.
On President Biden’s first day in office, he issued 17 executive orders, one of them being in regards to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Mark Chase, a Fournier spokesperson, spoke upon Section 1 of the executive order.
“…education institutions that receive federal funding must allow boys who self-identify as girls to participate in female sports, and that there would be administrative consequences if not,” said Chase.
This order rekindled a controversial topic on the fairness of transgender athletes participating in gender-specific sports teams.
According to NBC News, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee responded to this edict saying, “I believe that transgenders participating in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports. It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships. It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there in some time. I think it’s bad for women and women’s sports.”
Bill Lee’s response is gratitious in the fact that a study from UCLA Williams Insitute stated that 0.58 percent of all people in the United States identify as transgender. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that only 19 percent of a community participates in sporting activities. This number is not nearly significant enough to “destroy women’s sports” as Lee stated earlier.
It is evident that there are many physiological differences between men and women. These differences include strength, speed, and endurance, which will ultimately result in different athletic capabilities. These factors generally give men a significant advantage in head-to-head competitions compared to women.
National committees have begun to take a stance on this debacle.
The Olympic committee was one of the first organizations to jump in with both feet for transgender athletes.
According to The Vault, “In 2004 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ventured the first answer, ruling that any trans athlete who wants to compete against those not of their birth sex must undergo sex reassignment surgery and then two years of hormone therapy-either testosterone supplementation (to go from female to male) or testosterone suppression (to go from male to female).”
Furthermore, transgender women must demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months before their first competition.
These IOC guidelines allow transgender athletes to compete whilst significantly reducing gender-related advantages, placing competitors on a more even training ground, and making the participation of transgender females fair nationally.
The NCAA rules have become increasingly similar to the guidelines held at the national level.
According to ncaa.org, “A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team. However, a trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.”
These guidelines are justifiable for transgender athletes and student-athletes because without hormone treatment, the level of testosterone compared to other players on a women’s team gives that individual an unfair advantage.
To insist that transgender athletes compete according to their assigned gender at birth is to insist that they deny their true selves.
There has yet to be a recorded transgender woman competing at the Olympic level, however, Chris Mosier, the first transgender male to compete at the Olympics Trials in 2020, had a successful career as a racewalker and triathlete. In addition to competing, Mosier also challenged Olympic policies, which over time, resulted in a new IOC guideline for transgender males, which stated that reassignment surgery was not necessary to compete.
Mosier’s athletic career has been a breakthrough for transgender athletes, and I hope that his participation at a national level will inspire other transgender athletes to compete nationally as well.