The Playing Field Is Not Level for Trans H.S. & College Females

A person holding a sign reading protect trans lives banner

It seems ironic that transgender celebrities like Elliot Page, Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, to name a few, are becoming more visible in our society while high school and college female transgenders are becoming invisible on the field because their state is banning them from participating on teams in which they feel they belong.  According to the think-tank Williams Institute focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law, there are 150,000 youths, ages 13 to0 17, who identify as transgender (and more than 1.5 million American adults).  They have in common the fact that they feel they were born in the wrong body, that their identity does not match their birth certificates.  The term for this non cisgender classification is gender dysphoria.

Nine states and Idaho (whose bill is stalled by a federal judge) have passed bills restricting trans sports participation and thirty-four states are considering it.  Florida recently joined the other states in passing bills that call for proof of sex assigned at birth – in other words, a birth certificate.  If there is a question about identity, the girl’s physician has a right to examine her genitals, just as another student can sue if the school allows a transgender woman to play on her team. The state laws would not bar trans girls from playing on men’s or boys’ teams, however.

NCAA Rules As A Governing Body

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), whose policy was adopted in 2011, stresses inclusivity.  It says that transgender women may compete on women’s teams if they have completed a year of testosterone suppression treatment or if the team temporarily changes its status to “mixed.”  Some research indicates that 12 months of hormone therapy begun after puberty, can result in retention of some muscle mass and strength advantages, but not cardiovascular ones, and they are mitigated after two years.” The research is not conclusive.

According to NCAA, Championship events should only be held “in locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”  With their threats of pulling out of states that don’t include trans females in intramural or intercollegiate teams sponsored by publicly funded institutions, the states would suffer economically, and as the Chairman of the Human Rights Campaign, David Alphonso, says “they will have to face consequences of this anti-transgender legislation, including economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded local battles and “tarnished reputations.”

How Fair is The Fairness in Women’s Sport Act?

Governor Gavin Newsom of the most populous state California, believes that athletes with higher testosterone levels will perform better.  Caitlyn Jenner, who transitioned from male to female and is planning on opposing Newsom’s Governorship, agrees with Newsom’s position on trans athletes having an advantage.  However, scientists don’t report this to be true.  The studies suggest that once trans girls start getting hormone therapy, their performance tend to level out in different sports, and all things end up being roughly equal.  How does the hormone treatment affect the elite athletes?

A Gallup poll  “Annual Values, Belief Survey”conducted March 2018 by phone to 1,016 randomly selected adults living in the U.S., found that only 34% say that trans females should be able to play on teams that match their gender identity.  Perhaps the criticism stems from not understanding gender equity. Cisgender girls may be overly concerned about obtaining athletic scholarships if they are competing against testosterone-driven females.  Some feel there is too much emphasis on winning anyway.

Pro:  Transgender Challenge to traditions sport organizations on basis of binary sex

Here are some of the benefits of Inclusive Sports:

  • Builds confidence for all players
  • Cultivates leadership.
  • Promotes physical and mental stimulation
  • Transgender females will not feel like losers, “less than.”  As they are more prone to suicide, the acceptance on the field may offset their depression.
  • Cece Tefler, a Senior at Franklin Pierce University in Ringe, N.H., is the first openly transgender woman to earn an N.C.A.A. title, winning the 400 hurdles in Division II.  She hopes to qualify for the Olympics in Eugene, Oregon this month.
  • Kai Shappley, a fourteen year-old activist is fighting for the rights of transgender athletes like herself.  Emphasizes Shappley, ” I was finally a girl playing on a girl’s team and it felt AMAZING. I was exactly where I was supposed to be.”
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Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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