Over the last several years, there has been an unequivocal increase in acceptance of the transgender community in our society. This is due to the efforts in awareness brought forth by the LGBTQ+ community. Along with awareness, comes questions; one being about transgender athletes. The most substantial question that is raised with regards to transgender athletes, is what gender they should compete in?
Just yesterday, USport announced their new transgender athlete policy. The new policy will be implemented immediately to their 56 institutions extending across Canada. The policy states that athletes may compete in teams corresponding to their gender identity or their sex assigned at birth. Athletes must ensure they adhere to the strict Canadian Anti-Doping Program. This policy is a major step in the right direction for equality in the trans community. However, this is a new policy in Canada, and many other countries have not been as progressive.
Transgender athletes were only just permitted to compete in the olympics in 2004, with strict regulations such as gender reassignment surgery being a requirement. Finally, in 2015, the guidelines were changed and gender reassignment was no longer required. Currently, there is still many hormone regulations which must be strictly followed. Plenty of studies show that testosterone (male sex hormone), improves physical strength, and it has been abused by athletes for years. However, just like most performance enhancing substance, testosterone has regulations and can be tested. Which ensures trans athletes are at the same levels as any other cis-gender athlete.
It is evident that trans athletes are severely underrepresented in all sports at all levels. Rightly or wrongly, it is transgender females that are under the main scrutiny in the media. However, ‘The Weekend Australian‘, eloquently stated:
whatever physical advantages transgender women have – and they certainly exist – they are not nearly as large as the sociological disadvantages
With this being such a new and upcoming topic, there are many unanswered questions. Such as: How will teammates respond to having a transgender male or female on their team? With the medical world constantly changing, especially in regards to hormone therapy, how will trans athletes’ medication be monitored? There are plenty of athletes such as Michael Phelps, who’s bodies have been linked to their success; so why should this be different for transgender athletes?