Opinion: Trans athletes are not the problem

Delilah Alvarado, Opinion Columnist

Competitive sports try and promote a fair and equal competition, but there is obvious discrimination toward women.

From football, to wrestling and weightlifting, gender should not matter when it comes to competitive sports. Women can compete in any sport or activity that a man does, and vice versa. Unfortunately, competing with one’s preferred gender is not always that easy.

Competitive sports thoroughly supervise hormone levels for competitions to ensure fairness within competitors. The rules and regulations vary at all levels and that is both discriminatory and unfair. Some trans people are allowed in certain sports while some are not. The fine line needs to be concretely defined.

In 2019, The International Association of Athletics Federations said that women with high levels of testosterone had to take medications to suppress it or else they would be barred from competing.

Caster Semenya, South African Olympic champion, challenged this in court after she was told to take suppressive medication or else she would be barred from running. She was unable to win her case and now women who want to compete in the Olympics must take suppressants if their testosterone levels are too high, regardless if the levels are occurring naturally or due to any hormone therapy or transitions.

Semenya is only one of many women who have been asked to prove their sex to compete. Throughout the decades, the Olympic Games have faced controversies around trans athletes or sex verification. Women in the past have been subjugated to chromosome therapy, genital mutilation and sterilization.

While the Olympics have rules regarding appropriate hormone levels, lower competitions usually do not, especially at local levels.

In Texas, a person can only compete in a division based on the sex represented on a birth certificate. Mack Beggs, a trans male from Cypress Trinity High School was barred from competing in the boys division for wrestling and had to compete in his weight class in the girls division.

Female competitors and their parents were outraged by the unfair “advantage” and many competitors forfeited in apparent fear of injury. Beggs simply wanted to wrestle. He was taking testosterone and asked to compete with boys, yet he was barred from competing that way.

The state policy was the problem, not him.

Said policies fail many athletes. Fallon Fox, for example, became the first transgender athlete in the MMA, but not out of her own volition. Fox had to out herself after wanting to fight in the women’s division of mixed martial arts and being questioned about whether her remaining birth-given gender characteristics gave her an advantage against female opponents.

Since the sport of martial arts is inherently violent, it is valid to know if there is any chance that a transitioned woman would have an unfair advantage. However, Fox had been transitioned fully for years before she started fighting. The concern of an unfair advantage should have never occured.

Cyd Zeigler, OutSports sports news website co-founder, has covered trangender issues in sports for decades and believes the process of taking estrogen and transitioning over years is able to block any male benefits that might come out in these sports.

Women are the constant target, whether they are getting the beating or whether they have to prove they do not have an advantage. Cisgendered women have faced a lot of scrutiny for just seeming more masculine than average. But if an apparent trans male wants to compete with men, it is not always allowed.

Hormone tests need to be less invasive to cisgendered women, but able enough to prove that a trans women can compete on the same level. Trans women and men must be able to show they can compete in the division they want, but they should be provided with concise rules to follow.

Athletic organizations need to reevaluate the rules for competition and find a balance on inclusivity. Remaining unclear with their guidelines has led to discrimination toward women in the sport and that is unacceptable.

– Delilah Alvarado is a journalism senior

 


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