Transgender In Sports: Fairness And Discrimination
It’s known across the globe that the two genders have many physiological differences, but many of them are unknown to the common person. The level of testosterone is one of the main concerns of transgndered athletes competing in sports events, which controls a lot more within the body than one may at first think; such as muscle growth, metabolism reaction to workouts, and even the efficiency of the respiratory system. These are just a few of the anatomical differences that will be covered, not to mention the morality of having a fair playing field.
Picture this, there’s a 19 year old female born track runner lining up for her championship race. She looks to the right, then left, but it’s noticeable that one of the other contestants looks a little more masculine than the rest of the runners in the heat. She shakes it off and decides to brush it to the side to get in her focused mindset; then the gun fires. She takes off from the line leaving dust in her tracks, coming around the first bend she’s in 1st place but not by a lot. Only two strides behind her, is a squad of other runners chasing for dear life. Then, coming around the last turn she glanced to her right to see that same runner that looked a little more masculine than everyone else pass her and take that championship right from under her. Situations like this happen all over the world in all levels of sports. People who are born male are now starting to dominate in women’s sports.
A young woman named Selina Soule is a high school track athlete, who didn’t qualify for a track event because two boys who identify as female, ran faster, and placed in the race over Selina. If these two boys had not been allowed to compete as girls, Selina says that she would have placed sixth in the race and gotten the opportunity to run the 55m dash in front of college coaches at the New England regionals. This was an opportunity for Selina to potentially earn a college scholarship. This was only an opportunity in the case that she were to qualify for the New England regionals, she also could have potentially not been offered a scholarship, but this was a chance, maybe her only chance, for her to hopefully earn some sort of scholarship from a collegiate track team. Potentially a chance for her to continue her dream of running track at the highest level, while also getting a quality education to help prepare her for her future. This isn’t just about track though, this is about how some innocent high school athlete had an extremely bright future, ripped right from under her. This is an injustice that needs to be addressed. During an interview, Soule said, ” No one in the state of Connecticut is happy about this, but no one has enough courage to speak up.” That’s the sad reality when speaking about this topic: it is a very sensitive discussion that not many people want to be associated with. This is likely because there is a common misconception that the media has put in place, which basically states that everyone who isn’t a part of the LGBTQ+ community wants a separation in everything but also doesn’t want to oppose a side that is arguing for inclusion and claiming that is equal to acceptance. It is fair to say that a majority of the population all want the same thing, which is for everyone to feel equal, included, and for things to be fair. But having a male-born person, who has gone through puberty as a male, be able to compete in female sports is simply not fair.
Fairness in sports is measured in equality of ability, and there are a lot of anatomical differences between males and females that go unnoticed, unrecognized, and contribute to what makes the competition unfair. Besides the obvious factors that females have enlarged breasts and a vagina while males have a penis, people need to start taking into account what goes on inside the body. The male and female bodies are very different when it comes to organ efficiency..”Researchers, however, suggest that there appears to be less muscle hypertrophy with strength improvement in women when compared to men.”(Pubmed.gov) To put this in simpler terms, men have a higher strength cap then women, which means that a man’s muscles have the potential to become stronger, and bigger, than a woman’s. It is proven that transgender male to female individuals having gone through male puberty confer an unfair competitive advantage over non transgender females due to increased bone density and muscle mass from pubertal exposure to testosterone. The differences don’t stop there; males have a greater lung capacity and bigger brains than females do, which can make or break a lot of situations when it comes to sports. Athletes work their bodies extensively, they train almost every muscle in their body from the biceps to the deltoids to even some muscles in the neck. But as a female born athlete you can’t train your lungs and its capacity to grow as significantly as a males because they are genetically made to be bigger. And not to mention what happens when training. Males are proven to have a higher metabolism which helps burn fat faster. Which is just another advantage that male-born athletes have. “Hormonal factors lead to greater initial levels of high density lipoproteins in women. This appears to cause a smaller change in the total cholesterol-high density lipoprotein ratio than occurs with aerobic training in men.”(Pubmed.gov) But as I mentioned above, male-born athletes have a larger lung capacity. Which in turn would be detrimental to athletes competing in a sport like swimming. Competitive swimming is all about breathing and how you can control your breath while swimming at high speeds and for extensive periods of time. If a male-born transgender were to race in a female swimming competition, the transgender female would have an advantage before the race even started. This sort of advantage is immeasurable and almost impossible to find so if we were going by a rulebook, anyone that has an unfair advantage should be disqualified. But as humans I feel that we should be able to come to an agreement. I feel that there should be transgender specific leagues and categories in sports. For example, in sports like swimming there should be designated heats and meets for the transgender community. This alternative, I believe would be the best option for both sides. This gives the opportunity to compete at the same high levels of all sports. With that being said, there are obviously going to be rules and regulations that come for qualifying in women-born and male-born sports. These regulations would include things like a cutoff date as to when that person has become a transgender male or female, testosterone levels, estrogen levels, and things of that nature. Now, with that being said, I can see an opposition to this idea. But people have to understand that there must be some sort of accountability and fairness to men and female sports on all levels. As Ian Kreitzberg, The College of New Jersey journalist said in his article for the Wall Street Journal, “The physical advantage in athletics that men have over women—observable at the mean but especially at the extremes—can’t be attributed to human bias or discrimination.” It is not discrimination when it is backed by fact. Simple as that.
In conclusion, I have stated just a few of the physiological differences between men and women. These including: how testosterone controls things such as muscle growth, metabolism reaction to workouts, and the efficiency of the respiratory system. The male body has many differences when comparing it to a woman’s body. The male body has bigger lungs, bigger muscles, and testosterone that fuels the body in so many ways. But fair is fair and things need to be fixed. I believe there should be separate leagues and organizations for sports designated to the transgender community.We have seen people first-hand tell their stories of their injustices in all sports across the board. From getting college scholarships taken away to getting championship medals taken away and possible futures ruined over unjust rules and regulations that needs to be fixed. Everyone deserves inclusion but everyone deserves fairness.
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