Transathletes have the right to compete as the gender they choose

Trans-athlete should have the right to compete as the gender they choose. Politicians and athletes try to pass laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community when their argument has no scientific basis. Photo credit: Mfhelms

Trans-athlete should have the right to compete as the gender they choose. Politicians and athletes try to pass laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community when their argument has no scientific basis. Photo credit: Mfhelms

Some athletes and conservative politicians have advocated against trans-people competing in sports as the gender they identify as, stating it is unfair to the cisgender male and female athletes. These arguments are rooted in not-so-latent transphobia, not in a sincere concern over fairness or parity in athletics.

Transgender men and women should have the right to participate in sports as the gender with which they identify.

Female athletes claim that trans-women have an unfair advantage. They will point to “genetics” (a sweat-inducing subject in the American context) or testosterone.

However, in February 2020, a cisgender girl athlete beat a trans-female athlete in a Connecticut state championship track race. The same girl’s family was suing to prevent transathletes from competing.

These race results are just a part of the evidence that transathletes do not have an inherent advantage over cisgender athletes.

There is a history of female athletes defeating male athletes in equal competition, and vice versa. But even then, the vast majority of “female” athletes are cisgender, meaning the majority of winners will be cis.

There is simply no “invasion” of transathletes coming to ruin sports forever. The frenzied panic to “defend sports” is just a part of the transphobic base-drumming the Republican party has made too familiar.

Athletes complaining they are at a disadvantage should consider their own attitude towards their sport.

Even if transathletes had an “advantage” (which, again, they don’t), if you have chosen to dedicate your life to an athletic pursuit, will you quit in the face of adversity or work to prove your worth?

Trying to remove a competitor because you believe they have an advantage isn’t very sporting. Diversity of competition is good for sports and athletes alike.

But the issue of fairness falls apart when you consider the context: trans-people are discriminated against in almost all arenas of life. Conservatives have fought to expand the list ferociously, well before Trump supercharged the trans-panic culture war.

This new, coordinated wave of transphobic state legislation is hardly about sports at all.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed the Mississippi Fairness Act “to ensure young girls are not forced to compete against biological males.”

He has also advocated for public schools to discriminate against transathletes, saying the athletes must compete with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The Equality Act would stop Governor Reeves and her conservative colleagues from passing more discriminatory laws.

The Equality Act would provide anti-discrimination protections against the LGBTQ community. The act would add sex and sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act, which would protect the LGBTQ community in public spaces and other qualities of life.

On Feb. 25, the Equality Act passed the U.S. house with 224 votes, three of which were Republican.

Now the Equality Act must be passed by the senate.

The act has garnered support from President Joe Biden, who wrote, “I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”

The legislation has also earned support from Taylor Swift, who started a petition for Congress to pass the Equality Act.

But urging representatives to pass laws prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination is only a step towards a better and more humane society that looks honestly at how people are seen and treated.