Perception of Women in Sport

Sport has been a part of many cultures for decades. It historically started as a man’s domain to prevent boys from being like women. Part of the idea was that young boys are spending too much time around their female family members while men were at work and this was going to degrade their masculinity. In society today, masculinity is used as an evaluator regarding success in sport. Men in physically dominant sport are praised for their tenacity and physique. On the contrary, women are criticized if their body type or performance doesn’t meet the ideal standard for women in sport. 

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand won silver at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships. (EFE)

This is shown when Laurel Hubbard a 41-year-old weightlifter is criticized for being transgender in sport. Laurel has been getting media attention for her dominance at the Pacific Games. She has recently earned herself two golds and a silver at the Games in Samoa. Many people are commenting and asking authorities to put a stop to the “unfair” competition. The ‘issue’ for many is that a biological male should not be classified into female sport. However, this also illustrates society’s perception of women in a physically demanding sport. Society is criticizing due to the idea she is performing like a man. If Laurel had been biologically born a female, people would still be commenting on her “male-like” qualities. Society has decided that women who perform well in physical sports are manly. 

Personally, I believe the research behind transgender people in sport is not yet developed enough to allow or disallow these individuals from competing in the category to which they now identify. Regarding Hubbard’s case, I do believe she should be allowed to participate in women’s sport as she has taken the steps to become a woman. Research has shown that hormone therapy acts as an equalizer between transitioning men and cisgendered women. With this in mind, a biological male would not have a natural advantage over a biological female.


Featured image: Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand (Will Swanton)

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