If you’re here for an infuriated debate on the existential crisis that cisgender athletes supposedly face due to transgender athletes, spoiler alert: you’ve accidentally stumbled into the wrong internet territory. Turn around, for ahead lie facts, funny anecdotes, and – oh dear – academic literature!
Now, if you’re adjusting your glasses and preparing popcorn for an enjoyable, non-controversial read – welcome, folks!
There’s been much hue and cry about transgender athletes invading sports like the barbarian hoards of yore, equipped with their updated passports and, sometimes, higher testosterone levels. “Unfair!” Cry the skeptics, raising torches of ignorance and pitchforks of fear, claiming that cisgender athletes are at risk. But hey, if we based everything on fear and ignorance, we’d still believe the Earth is flat, wouldn’t we?
Let’s delve into the world of academia – and before you yawn, no, academia isn’t synonymous with “snoozefest.”
The Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities published a brilliant paper titled ‘The Competitive Advantage? An analysis of Transgender and Cisgender Athletes in Competitive Sports.’ It threw some light on the “transgender apocalypse” and, spoiler alert again – turns out, it’s not much of an apocalypse.
Statistics from the study proved that transgender athletes do not have a significant advantage over cisgender athletes. Ah! The sweet smell of data. More than any myth-busting Ghostbusters, it’s these academic articles that do a splendid job of shushing the naysayers.
Now, let’s hear some uproar from the team “Hormones!”
Sure, we cannot overlook the naturally higher testosterone levels that some transgender women may have, but should we ignore that several cisgender female athletes have similar levels due to unique physiological conditions? Evidently, the International Olympic Committee didn’t think so! The IOC changed their policy in 2015, permitting transgender athletes to compete without undergoing surgery, just maintaining specific testosterone levels.
That was not just a leap for transgender rights, but equally a long jump in recognizing the physiological variations among cisgender athletes. Kudos to the academics whose relentless studies led to the policy change! Who said facts can’t change the world?
And folks, let’s just pause and acknowledge this – sports are not exactly a level-playing field, to begin with. There will always be individual differences in athleticism, tolerance levels, and sheer skill. We don’t cower before Michael Phelps’s fish-like proficiency in water or Serena William’s smashing power on the tennis court. Why then should we quake at the prospect of transgender athletes in the sports arena?
Let’s bust one last myth before we conclude our funny romp through the world of transgender athletes and sports. How many transgender athletes do you think are out there, bagging all the gold medals, leaving the cisgender athletes sobbing in the dust?
In truth, there’s an insubstantial number of openly competing transgender athletes. According to the TransAthlete database which keeps track of such wins, only 16 of the 144 transgender athletes listed between 2003 and 2017 managed to secure a place at the top of the podium. That’s hardly a sweeping wave of transgender domination, oops.
In all seriousness, the presence of transgender athletes should merely be seen as a testament to the all-inclusive spirit of sports. In fact, let’s celebrate the mix of athletes in the world, including their identities, backgrounds, and yes, hormone levels too.
So next time someone rants about the ‘threat’ of transgender athletes, throw them a fact or two from this piece, or better yet, the link to this blog! Rest assured, it’s much funnier than the conspiracy theories out there. Signing off from just another day in Sports-ville, reminding you to beware of ignorance – it’s far, far more dangerous on the field than a fellow athlete.