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Being Transgender, and in Sports

By Leea Pronovost

Something bothered me about the Washington Post’s news release about the injunction of the Idaho law barring transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. Here’s the thing that really bothers me, “they”, being cisgender people, only look at this from one side and see trans women identified at birth as “male”. They see this as an advantage over cisgender women no matter the amount of time an athlete has been on both testosterone blockers and estrogen. They also say that no amount of hormonal therapy can remove the advantage of being male identified at birth.

What they refuse to see is the other side of the coin, so to speak. What I mean by that is, what about transmale athletes? These men have been on testosterone for at least a year and do not have the estrogen levels of a women anymore. They currently have the same testosterone levels of a cisgender male. Now, these people who don’t accept the idea of trans woman in women’s sports, want transmen to compete with cisgender women? I think not! As far as I know, that would be a distinct advantage over any cisgender woman.

An example of this would be Mack Beggs from Euless, Texas. He is a transmale high school wrestler. The state athletic rules only allowed him to wrestle in the women’s division. This was despite him wanting to wrestle the men’s division. His record in the first year (2017), after starting testosterone, was 57-0, and his second year (2018), was 32-0. He took the state title both his Junior and Senior years in high school. From what I understood of the “affair”, some of the girls refused to wrestle him because they felt he had an unfair advantage over them because of the testosterone he had built up in his body. You can clearly see that this is an advantage given his win-to-loss ratio, and the hormone affect on the body with physical changes, given this “side of the coin” it is easy to see. Given ALL this information, the state of Texas still refuses to allow trans athletes to compete in their “identified gender’s” division.

If you are transgender, then you yourself know how much the hormones can affect your body and your physical strength. Being a trans woman, I know! I have lost most of my muscle mass which has turned mostly into some type of body fat and then was deposited into different locations around my body. I only have probably about 60% of the strength that I used to have. That being said, I started my transition much later in life when I was about 48. It was after being on hormones for the first year that I noticed how much strength I had lost.

One of the other major complaints I had seen in the comments of the article, was that transwomen had the bone structure of men and their bodies were just absolutely bigger in general as any cisgender woman. Now, I have to point out to them, that women do not all come as “smaller” than men. There are a lot of women who happen to be taller than myself. I am only 5’ 8”, so I have to say here there are plenty of women who are taller than myself. In order to see this, just take a look around what the average woman’s height is nowadays. Statistically about 36% of all women are over 5’7” and about 3% of all women are over 6’. So, we have to ask ourselves, is this an advantage for transwomen? The average male height is around 5’9” in the US, (note: all these stats are from the US). Is this truly an advantage? I think not! If you are talking about fighting, how much is the arm length differential for reach? If you’re talking about running, how much of a differential is there for leg length given the difference in overall height? Is this truly and advantage?

After all of this, I have to say that anyone who doesn’t want transgender people to compete in sports within their identified gender’s division, is truly not only prejudicial, but also, given the ruling of the supreme court as to protections of transgender people in the work place, it would seem to violate the law! In this case, the Idaho District Judge David Nye agrees. Nye wrote, “While the citizens of Idaho are likely to either vehemently oppose, or fervently support, the Act, The Constitution must always prevail.”

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