Is This Really Transphobic?

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Is This Really Transphobic?

What are your thoughts on this controversy? Both the transgender flag and Olympic rings were labeled for reuse from Wikimedia Commons.

What are your thoughts on this controversy? Both the transgender flag and Olympic rings were labeled for reuse from Wikimedia Commons.

What are your thoughts on this controversy? Both the transgender flag and Olympic rings were labeled for reuse from Wikimedia Commons.

What are your thoughts on this controversy? Both the transgender flag and Olympic rings were labeled for reuse from Wikimedia Commons.

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The LGBTQ+ community has become more outspoken and accepted in the last few years. Alongside this progress, what’s also on the rise is the new hurdles to jump over to accommodate different factions of this community.

In this case, controversy arose over the issue of transgender people competing in sporting events as the gender they transitioned to.

Martina Navratilova–one of the first openly lesbian sports figures, a former professional tennis player and humans rights activist–spoke out about the unfairness of trans women competing in sports events. She went on a frustrated Twitter rant and received massive backlash over her strong opinions on the subject.

One of Navratilova’s tweets said, “A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he desires. It’s insane and it’s cheating.”

“New York-based Athlete Ally, which supports LGBT sportspeople, called the comments transphobic and removed the 18-time Grand Slam winner from its advisory board and as an ambassador,” according to CNN.

What truly upset people was calling it cheating. However, is this really such an unreasonable assessment?

Senior Jade Kennard felt that labeling trans athletes “cheaters” was unfair and inaccurate.

“No [it cannot be considered cheating]. Cheating implies some form of intentional seeking of advantage. Transitioning is a continuous life long process that typically involves expensive medicine, counseling, social turmoil and sometimes life-altering operations. When we do this it is for our emotional health and in no way to gain some advantage over anyone else,” she stated.

On the other hand, AAHS girls lacrosse coach and PE teacher Kali Maxwell explained that those who have transitioned from male to female often have physical advantages over their competitors.

“I think it can be [considered cheating]. I think it’s really hard to have someone that’s transitioning from male to female, especially if they’re older, and they’ve already built that strength and had those hormones going through their body, to have them competing at the same level as a woman that hasn’t had testosterone and those things growing up,” said Maxwell. “It’s just proven fact that males are stronger [and] faster than women are once they get older and once they’ve gone through puberty.”

Maxwell also pointed out that if a person assigned male at birth began transitioning before they hit puberty, it would be a different story. But this doesn’t change the fact that a lot of boys don’t begin transitioning before puberty, hence the unfair advantage a trans woman has over those born female.

Greg Cote, from the Miami Herald, said, “It is not at odds to be in favor of transgender rights but also recognize that, in the matter of sports, there are victims of others’ rights. Examples are everywhere. Just recently in Connecticut, two transgender girls sprinters dominated the outdoor state championships against competitors who were females from birth. ‘We all know the outcome of the race before it starts,’ said one beaten sprinter. ‘It’s demoralizing.'”

However, these opposing arguments are often dismissed as transphobic, shutting down the conversation. Kennard weighed in on the question as to whether this criticism is inherently hateful.

“In most cases no I do not [think it’s transphobic]. Most of the arguments I’ve come across are asking very legitimate questions involving things such as muscle density and increased lung capacity and these are not transphobic though maybe a little crass and poorly handled,” said Kennard.

“Unfortunately testosterone based puberty gives the trans woman a defined edge and in these cases, it would be unfair to put her into the competition. However, I don’t think that it would be fair to ban her from competing altogether based on factors beyond her control…One thing people rarely think about is the massive disadvantage trans women would be at if forced to compete against men, not to mention how uncomfortable and dysphoric it would be for many,” she added.

Kennard also stated that this controversy is why she has never been involved in competitive sports after she transitioned.

One can be a supporter of trans-rights and fully support people being who they are and want to be and also find it unfair for trans women to be competing against women who were born female. There are separate events for females and males for a reason.

This really isn’t an unpopular opinion, no matter how much it’s made out to be a transphobic way of thinking and anti-progressive.

Camilla Tominey, from The Telegraph, indicated, “A poll has found that 63 percent of Brits agree with the former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova that transgender women competing in women’s sport are ‘cheating’ because the athletes would have ‘unfair physical advantages.'”

It’s not wrong to believe that this system may be detrimental to women assigned female at birth. This is something we should be having a conversation about. However, society is so concerned about political correctness and offending others that it ignores that there are two sides to this story.

There is no simple answer to the issue of where trans athletes should be allowed to compete. What’s most important here is that every viewpoint is being considered and the facts are being heard–not ignored.