Challenges Faced by Transgender Athletes Off the Pitch

For the most part, there are no overarching rules or national legal precedents dictating whether transgender athletes can compete in a variety of sports in their true field, as opposed to the one they were assigned at birth. (An exception is the National College Athletic Association, which has a complete policy on trans athletes .) Olympics.

There is a huge gray area here, and it fosters heated debate in sports, politics and education . Gender segregation of sporting events suggests that men and women have different genetic or hormonal benefits – so how can these differences be accounted for, if they should be a factor in maintaining a level playing field at all when transgender athletes compete? Where is the line between concern for justice and transphobia? The problem is only exacerbated by news of a bipartisan bill sponsored by Democratic Republican Party Tulsi Gabbard and Republican Republican Marquain Mullin. Their bill, dubbed the 2020 Women’s Sports Protection Act, will radically change the way the NCAA treats transgender athletes today.

According to a press release from Gabbard’s office, the law “clarifies that the protection of female Title IX athletes is based on biological field.” More bluntly and forcefully, the law will officially end Title IX funding of any academic institution that allows transgender athletes to compete as women. (This is not the first time Title IX has been used to change the legal governance of trans student athletes.)

While the bill threatens to severely disrupt college athletics, the rest of the country lacks a clear set of rules governing how transgender athletes can participate in sports.

The NCAA already has strict rules

The NCAA already allows transgender women and men to compete in gender-specific sports, but these athletes must follow a strict hormonal regulation process for one year to do so. The rationale for this depends on the regulation of the athlete’s testosterone level, whether it is suppressed or increased.

Smith College highlights the NCAA rules:

A trans male athlete (FTM) student who has received a Testosterone Medical Exemption for Diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria and / or Transsexualism for the purpose of NCAA competition may participate on the men’s team but is no longer eligible to compete in NCAA competitions … compete on a women’s team without changing that team’s status to a mixed team.

A female trans female athlete (MTF) student undergoing treatment with testosterone suppressants for gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria and / or transsexualism may continue to compete on the men’s team for NCAA competition purposes, but may not compete on the women’s team without changing it. to mixed team status until the completion of one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.

The rules and generally inclusive tone of the NCAA have not stopped the involvement of transgender athletes from sparking outrage. The accomplishments of Cese Telfer, a trans woman sprinter who won the 2019 NCAA Division II national championship, has sparked backlash from Donald Trump Jr. Subsequently, Telfer became something of a national symbol of the still raging debate.

At the Olympics, the rules are even stricter

The International Olympic Committee also allows transgender athletes to compete, but its hormonal criteria are even stricter. As Wired pointed out last year , the IOC sets the exact threshold for testosterone that transgender athletes can demonstrate ahead of competition in the Games.

The magazine wrote :

Transgender women can compete in the female category as long as their blood testosterone levels are kept below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months. Cisgender men typically have testosterone levels between 7.7 and 29.4 nanomoles per liter , while cisgender women typically have testosterone levels of 1.7 nmol / L or less. Meanwhile, the management of athletics has just adopted the 5 nmol / L limit .

It gets darker at the high school level

High school education is subject to regulations at the federal, state and local levels, so it should come as no surprise that there is no official policy similar to the NCAA’s policy on trans athletes. The problem of trans athletes in high school competition has become particularly acute, as evidenced by several recent lawsuits that have drawn attention to the problem at the national level.

Mac Beggs, a Texas high school wrestler who was assigned a female at birth but received hormone therapy with testosterone, was the subject of a 2018 lawsuit that, according to the Dallas Morning News , ÔÇťasserted the risk of injury for other wrestlers and an unfair advantage for beggars. … , “Who was required to fight girls because of the University Interscholastic League rules requiring athletes to ” compete in the gender division corresponding to their birth certificate. “ (Beggs claimed to have always wanted to fight boys, but Texas law forbade him to do so.)

Another lawsuit in Connecticut earlier this year alleged that two sprinters, transgender women Terry Miller and Andrai Yerwood, were able to win multiple championships thanks to the advantages given to them by their biological sex. The lawsuit specifically mentions Section IX, which prompted the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Education. DOE ultimately threatened to defund high schools in Connecticut matter if t hey blocked transathletes compete .

Given the amount of controversy and legal turmoil the issue has sparked, the debate obviously won’t stop on Tulsi Gabbard and Marquain Mullin’s bill, which is almost certainly doomed to fail in the initial House vote.


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