Commentary: Transgender athletes should compete with their biological sex

As+transgender+athletes+more+commonly+compete+in+sporting+events%2C+the+question+is+being+raised+of+who+they+should+compete+with.

Justin Ha

As transgender athletes more commonly compete in sporting events, the question is being raised of who they should compete with.

It seems like every few months there are a dozen or so stories about a transgender athlete who is shaking up “the norms” of the athletic world.

These stories, usually about transgender females (biological males) who are destroying their competition, are either claiming that anyone can compete with whoever they want or that these transgender athletes are “ruining the sport”.

This brings up the question: should transgender athletes be able to compete with the gender with which they identify? 

Any issue like this should be handled with extreme delicacy as there are certainly gray areas, such as those receiving hormonal therapy at a prepubescent age and hermaphradite athletes, but by and large, I believe that at the highest levels of competition, transgender athletes should have to compete with their biological sex. 

Now I want to note that I am cis-gender. I have full respect for transgender athletes and believe that transgender people should be allowed to identify with any gender without judgement. That being said, there is a difference between gender and sex as it pertains to sports.

Gender is how someone identifies on a spectrum, while sex is based on the chromosomes in your DNA (XY or XX). This can be described as how you identify versus your biology.

In competition it is in the game’s best interest to keep everything as fair as possible. Competition in its pure state is meant to be objective with no obvious advantages given to any competitor. 

This is why sports should be separated by sex. Because, as a whole, biological males are stronger and faster than biological females at the highest levels of competition due to their testosterone.  

So when a transgender female races with biological females, the race isn’t giving an objective comparison of skill because one competitor has an obvious physical advantage.  A biological male will beat a biological female in their specific sport at a top level almost every time.

So when a transgender female races with biological females, the race isn’t giving an objective comparison of skill because one competitor has an obvious physical advantage.  A biological male will beat a biological female in their specific sport at a top level almost every time.”

— Justin Ha

This can be exemplified by Megan Youngren, a transgender female, who qualified for the 2020 Olympic marathon trials as a female despite the fact that she was 25 minutes slower than the slowest male qualifier in her race and would not have qualified as a male. Even though everything about her biology was male, she still qualified as a female due to her gender identification, which doesn’t have any effect on her performance.

If a transgender female athlete has gone through puberty without hormonal therapy, she will be built like a male and will have biological male characteristics and chemistry. We should acknowledge how transgender athletes feel while still giving all competitors an equal chance to succeed within their sex.

I am not implying that transgender athletes shouldn’t be able to compete, but rather I want all athletes to compete with a sample set that represents each athlete’s talent without any sex-based advantages.

Transgender athletes’ feelings should be valid, but having a biological man compete with a biological female is simply not fair in a high level sports competition.

When it comes to sports, personal identification has no bearings on performance, but sex does. This is why sex should be the main categorization in sports.

If a biological male competed with biological females it would be considered unfair. Since gender identity has nothing to do with performance a transgender female competing with biological females is equally unfair.

I cannot stress enough that I do not want to limit transgender athletes, but rather create a fair environment in the context of the athletic competitions rather than of the people playing it.

One may argue that all athletes have inherited biological advantages, but sports organizations don’t categorize athletes by wingspan or height. They only categorize by sex.

I know this seems unfair, but in the context of a sports competition, competing by sex is giving the best representation of skill between athletes.

The categorization of sports isn’t related to personal identification, but rather the elimination of sex-linked advantages.

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