Trans athletes face challenges in sports that their cisgendered counterparts do not. Here are a few of their struggles to learn.
Research has estimated that roughly .35% of people, or roughly 1 out of every 300 people, are transgender in the United States. Others place that number higher, but nothing is certain.
Scientists don’t currently understand what makes someone transgender, but the visibility of transgender individuals seems to be growing.
People from all walks of life, from models to television stars and athletes are coming out as transgender. Transgender people in the United States face serious discrimination and other dangers.
Trans athletes face a few particularly unique challenges, largely concerning the fairness of comparing them to their peers. We’ll talk more about this in the paragraphs below.
1. Weightlifting Discrimination
Powerlifting is an area where transgender athletes face some of the worst discrimination. Currently, transgender females are not allowed to participate in the sport, citing greater base testosterone levels, bone strength, and other biological factors.
The problem is that this could be easily disproven if the organization tried. Testosterone can be tested, as can bone density.
While weightlifting associations haven’t tested this, olympic organizations have, and transgender men don’t appear to have any more testosterone than cisgender men.
2. Ire of Fellow Athletes
A big problem transgender athletes have to deal with is the scorn of other athletes. This has come from a range of different athletes. Some of the worst has come from tennis star and former LGBTQ+ ally Martina Navratilova, who claimed that women have an unfair advantage.
Others have come out against transgender athletes after losing to a transgender athlete.
The claims tend to be similar to those that drove the weightlifting decision–unfair advantage. Again, tests seem to suggest otherwise, so this theory doesn’t hold water.
Others claim that somebody could take advantage by claiming to be transgender, transitioning and competing in women’s sports, then transitioning back after winning.
Ultimately, this seems impractical. The sheer amount of work, therapy, and other procedures required to transition are too taxing to be worth it.
The best option for transgender athletes is to ignore their critics and focus on self improvement. The only person they owe anything to is themselves.
3. High School Discrimination
While a professional organization may gain enough publicity to have their policies questioned and reversed, K-12 schools are far smaller and far more numerous.
Several states discriminate against trans athletes from competing with the gender they identify with, including Texas, Indiana, and Idaho. Many others go on a case-by-case basis or have measures that allow transgender athletes provided certain conditions are met.
This means that a lot of discrimination falls under the radar, and young transgender athletes may be discouraged from competing at a higher level.
Problems Faced by Trans Athletes
While things are slowly improving for trans athletes, we still have a long way to go. We’ve mentioned only some of the issues they face in the paragraphs above, but there are unfortunately many more. We encourage you to do more research on your own if you’re interested.
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