Response to ‘Trans Athletes in Sports’

Luna Nash

I find this article extremely uninformed and weak, and therefore harmful. While biological men do tend to have higher testosterone levels which allows them to build physical mass more effectively, that can’t be made into a blanket claim that “males are simply more biologically equipped than females.” This string of reasoning that the article is based on is extremely flawed because not only is the base claim an unreliable generalization made by an author with no real evidence, only anecdotes and vague statements, it assumes that success in athletics is based only on physical prowess and is not majorly affected by any other factors. There are so many factors that make a difference in athletic performance and success: schools’ funding, areas with more vs less money, students’ opportunities, and so much more. When talking about trans people in sports, there are even more specific factors. Compare the amount of trans people who actually win and succeed in athletics. Education on the actual physical effects of taking hormone blockers, medical estrogen or testosterone, and medical transitions is essential before attempting to make an argument on this subject. It is extremely uninformed to claim that trans women have an advantage so tangible and absolute that they should not be able to participate in women’s athletics.
Additionally, the argument claims to be in favor of equal opportunities, but the entire article fails to mention trans men whatsoever, who by the logic used would receive a massive disadvantage in athletics. It’s indicative that there is no discussion of trans men whatsoever when the article’s motivation for writing this article claims to be to work towards equal opportunities for athletes. For readers who do not see a problem with this article, especially cis ones, please take the time to discover why you think that your opinion as a cis person who, I assume from the fact that you don’t see an immediate problem with the reasoning used and its motivation, has not genuinely sought to be informed on the issues many cis people believe they are qualified to talk about. Consult many actual trans people with a mind that is not skewed by insecurities and internalized fear of trans people.
This article also fails to acknowledge literally the fundamental part of the trans experience, which is unfortunately suffering adversities in almost every area of one’s life. This demonstrates a lack of knowledge on the topic despite establishing throughout the article that one without this essential information is qualified to speak on the topic. If this information were present, the argument would know and consider that trans people face huge everyday disparities that make it difficult to succeed at nearly anything in a cis world. Most glaringly, a trans person on a sports team will have to struggle and work extremely hard to gain basic respect of their teammates, which essentially undermines one’s ability to succeed in a team setting. Even if you are skilled as an athlete, if you are trans you are almost always going to be viewed as an Other who needs to prove worthy of normal respect, support, and kindness. Trans people who have not undergone medical treatment are especially susceptible to this, including discrimination from coaches and scouts. This applies to individual athletics as well. The trans people who don’t experiment with or pursue expression of their gender often have an external reason for this: unsafe home circumstances, unwelcoming schools, lack of support from community, a financial disparity that makes obtaining a new wardrobe or medical treatment even more difficult, or even issues with internalized transphobia that many trans people face as a result of the unwelcoming and covertly hateful environment that articles like this perpetuate.
I don’t bring these disparities up to argue that they even out some object advantage that trans women hold over cis women. I don’t believe that arguing that there is a physical advantage is founded whatsoever. Athletics in concept are about who is best equipped to compete against their opponents. This means that people, cis or trans, who have physical benefits are more likely to succeed in a general sense. NBA players are often extremely tall. Successful dancers can be seen with hypermobility. Athletes with the time management skills and support to commit to their skill-building are more likely to succeed.
The argument presented here is not about sports. The article states so many times that of course it supports trans people, of course it wants opportunities for them, of course it carries no ill will towards them. Transgender suicide rates are even acknowledged as excruciatingly high. I am urging readers to actually think about what is being said and where it comes from internally, because anti-trans violence and the risk of suicide are certainly nowhere near the majority of issues that trans people face. We are often spurred to take our lives because of the daily subtle discrimination, challenges, lack of community support, constant sense of otherness, having to always question our safety and wellness with others, 24/7 reminders that we are viewed as different, the extra effort that it takes to gain basic respect and empathy from others, and dozens of more struggles that vary from person to person; I won’t comment on those because I am not really informed enough to pretend I know what they’re talking about.
It is wounding to the trans community to see an article that is extremely misinformed, coming from a place of internalized misogyny and transphobia, and presenting itself as non-hateful. Cis people wield power that trans people do not. To any readers, please do the work to understand why this article is harmful. Think about it for yourself and TALK TO TRANS PEOPLE. Callousness and insecurity should not be given the opportunity to cost the B-CC trans community a sense of safety and wellness, as uninformed cis actions so often do. It is very possible to spread harm and hate without having any intention to do so. I am sure those of our community who perpetuate harm towards trans people do not want to hurt trans people and don’t see themselves as transphobic; to those of you who are uneducated, find out why this is an inaccurate perception of yourself so that you don’t harm others in the future.