Transgenders in Sports
By: Erin Grimm
Transgender people participating in sports is controversial in schools worldwide especially in college. To be a transgender is to denote or relate to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. A person who is transgender may be born a male but may relate more to the female side and therefore change his sex to female. Some people believe that it’ll provide either an advantage or disadvantage to a team depending on the person's birth gender.
Transgender athletes in high schools around the world are facing discrimination and are slapped with policies that restrict their ability to play their favorite sports with their classmates and peers. For example, in June of 2018 two transgender girls (male to female) located in Connecticut both won state titles. This bothered and outraged many parents causing them to want to ban ALL transgender athletes due to claiming that it was extremely unfair to the other hardworking girls within that sporting competition. The two transgender girls, Miller and Yearwood, didn’t even beat every girl in the competition like parents were claiming. Miller ran and finished fourth in the 400-meter run while Yearwood finished seventh in the 200-meter run.
It’s blatant transphobia for accusing those girls of not working as hard as any other girl competing; it's also transphobic to try and get every transgender person banned from playing their favorite sports because of their birth gender. The college policies governed by the NCAA allow transgender men and women to compete as long as they've been on hormonal treatment for a specific amount of time (which is normally a year until their hormone levels are where the school requires) while colleges governed under different policies may have different rules.
Under the NCAA, a sex change surgery is no longer mandatory to be able to participate; instead they need to be undergoing hormone treatments. A transgender male (female to male) undergoing testosterone may compete on a men’s team but cannot compete on a woman’s team without changing it to a mixed team, while a transgender female (male to female) have to be treated with a testosterone suppression medication for at least a year to get their testosterone levels low enough to be able to compete on an all-women's team without having to change the title to a mixed gender team, but they are still eligible to compete on a men's team.
If the transgender student who is not on hormones wants to play a sport, he/she would have to participate in sex-separated sports activities based on his/her birth gender. A transgender male (female to male) who isn’t taking testosterone may participate on both a men and women’s team; however, a transgender female (male to female) who is not on hormones may NOT compete on a women’s team.
This is a huge issue for transgender high school students as well. Some students cannot afford or even get cleared for the hormone treatments preventing them from playing on their desired team; this can cause them to have a severe case of gender dysphoria. Some people suggest having separate teams just for transgender students, excluding them from participating on their preferred gender’s team. Not only do they have to go through extreme measures to be eligible to participate on their preferred genders team they also have to worry about the criticism they receive for being transgender. As transgender athletes, they have to deal with undergoing hormonal treatment while getting disrespected by transphobic people in and out of the sports community, which is completely unfair on them. Most transgender athletes are too scared to join sports due to the fact of the criticism they will receive for it and all the hormonal treatments they’ll have to receive to be a part of the team.
Another rising issue is the age that a person is allowed to start taking hormones; they start being allowed to take hormones and hormone blockers around the age of 15 which is around the time that normal puberty would start in both genders. This would cause them to possibly start late based on their high school’s policy on transgender athletes, so they could possibly have less of a track record than a normal high school athlete causing them to have a lower chance of being picked. People claim that having a transgender female (male to female) is an advantage while having a transgender male (female to male) is a disadvantage. They claim that a transgender female (male to female) will have all the strength as a male and won’t have to try as hard. The truth is they take hormonal treatments so that they will have the same hormonal makeup that every other teammate on their team will have, and they will have to work at the same pace as their team to be at the same level. They clearly do not provide any advantage or disadvantage to their team. This is proven to be false and also prevented to the best of their abilities because of laws under the NCAA.
Parents may bring up the argument that the transgender female’s bone density and structure is still the same as a regular man’s density and structure. This is an unfair argument because they cannot control their bone structure and density and there's nothing they can do to change that. They have enough policies to try and level the playing field for both female and male transgenders, their teammates, and their opponents. It is unfair to them to claim that they still are providing a disadvantage or an advantage to a certain team.
The transgender community goes through plenty of work to even just be considered equal to their other peers, then they have to go through plenty of policies and procedures to be able to qualify to play for their school’s team. Once they go through the procedures and policies they’re still getting criticism for their birth gender and still being told they should be banned from playing on the team they wish. In my opinion I think that any transgender athlete should be allowed to play without any criticism as long as they go through all of the mandatory procedures and policies.