‘End of women’s sports’: Is USA Masters athlete right about trans athletes?
- World champion track athlete and Team USA Masters runner Cynthia Monteleone spoke out about trans athletes competing in girls sports, saying that “if male-bodied athletes continue competing on female teams, it will be the end of women's sports.”
- Outsports reported 'at least 36 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual and non-binary athletes will be in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.”.
- On November 16, 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced new guidelines, detailed in a six-page document, that outlines changes for transgender athletes that allow them to be able to “compete in the category that best aligns with their self-determined gender identity,” and bars all athletes from having to undergo “medically unnecessary procedures or treatments to meet eligibility requirements.”
- Following the 2020 Olympics, in September 2021, the UK-based Sports Councils Equality Group released a report, which found transgender athletes have an unfair advantage in female sports “due to the retained differences in strength, stamina and physique between the average woman compared with the average transgender woman or non-binary person assigned male at birth, with or without testosterone suppression.”
- Previously, in 2015, the IOC relaxed the eligibility criteria for transgender females to compete in natal female sport. The requirement for genital reassignment surgery was removed and eligibility instead was determined by reducing testosterone to 10 nM for at least 12 months.
One of the main arguments the USA Masters athlete had against trans women competing in women's sports is that trans women have an advantage over cis women physiologically. However, just as athletic ability varies among natal-born women, it also varies among trans women as physiological differences vary and don't necessarily determine success. Being a trans woman doesn't automatically mean the individual will be more successful than other women athletes. In fact, transgender women athletes must meet certain requirements to compete in women's sports to ensure fair play and equal opportunity for all participants. Hormone levels—specifically testosterone—are tested and traced at least 12 months back to ensure the testosterone levels are low enough. One study published by Bioscientifica showed that out of 250 transgender women, 94% of them had testosterone levels below two nanomoles per liter—the same as 95% of 'cisgender' women.
As the slogan goes, 'trans women are women'—period. Excluding them will hurt not only transgender women but all of sports. Having trans women in women's sports means a more inclusive environment where differences are not only tolerated but appreciated. More competition means more satisfaction in winning. Cis women athletes who compete against transgender women will inevitably feel greater pride when they are facing a growing number of opponents, thanks to the acceptance of transgender women into women's sports. This pushes all players involved to strive for new standards of success. Rather than debating whether or not trans women should be allowed to compete alongside natal women, society should celebrate how far the sports world has come.
Globally, transgender athletes are breaking all types of records in the world of women's sports, and they are besting many records set by top-class female athletes. And this may well end women's sport for good. Clearly, the field of play is no longer even for girls with the participation of transgender athletes competing against them. Their competitors are born, have developed as, and remain male, no matter how they identify. They retain all the physiological features of a male, including muscle mass physique and elevated testosterone levels. Thus, there is no question that transgender athletes are naturally bigger, faster, and stronger than real female athletes—and thus, the advantage on the sporting field is unquestionable.
A study by Karolinska university showed that even puberty-blocking drugs and hormonal blockers do not lower the benefit of the male's natural testosterone. By puberty, most males have developed irreversible physical traits such as bone structure, lung function, and lowering testosterone levels still allows them to maintain an edge on the field. Hence, most transgender athletes have a significant physiological advantage over a female.
While some argue that transgender athletes have high rates of suicide and depression, this does not mean that they should be allowed to compete with females; these folks need some sort of psychotherapy or compete with other transgender athletes.
And the victory of transgender athletes over females has repercussions beyond the sports arena. In a nation that places a heavy emphasis on sports, many of these girls who come second or third will never receive scholarships to benefit their education or even get a chance to turn professional. Women's sports were first created to give women a fair chance to stand on the podium and not to compete with male-bodied athletes.