Trans Athletes Deprived of Competition: We Must ‘Stay on the Right Side of History’

In the United States, where the issue of including trans athletes in women’s competitions is controversial, 400 athletes have asked the NCAA not to ban transgender women from participating in women’s college sports.

A group of more than 400 current and former Olympic, professional and college athletes, more than 300 academics and about 100 advocacy groups released separate letters Tuesday asking the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association, an American sports association that organizes sports programs for many major colleges and universities in the United States for student-athletes) not to ban transgender women from participating in women’s college sports. These constitute an essential springboard towards professional sporting careers and competitions, particularly Olympic ones.

Among the signatories of the letter is the footballer Megan Rapinoe, Olympic champion and two-time world champion.

“Being on the right side of history”

“We ask you to stand on the right side of history and affirm that sport is truly for all of us”we read in the letter signed by the athletes. “Do not ban transgender women from participating in NCAA women’s sports.”

Tuesday’s letters are part of a larger and highly controversial debate raging in the United States over trans people’s participation in sports. According to a Gallup report released last June, 69% of respondents believe transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete on sports teams that do not match the sex assigned to them at birth.

The argument put forward to justify this discrimination is based on the widespread idea that trans women would have an advantage over cisgender women due to their testosterone levels and would automatically perform better, which would be unfair to cis participants. However, by taking hormone treatment as part of the transition, trans women actually see their rates decrease.

In a separate press release issued by the association Ally of the athleteMegan Rapinoe forcefully rejected this transphobic argument: “Bans against transgender athletes presented as “protecting women’s sports” do not speak for us and do nothing to protect us.”

The case of Lia Thomas at the center of the debates

As the American media reminds us NBC, since 2010, the NCAA has allowed trans women to compete on women’s sports teams under certain conditions. In 2022, the association announced that it would implement a new “sport by sport” approach. Current guidelines, like those from 2010, require trans women to undergo at least a year of testosterone suppression. On the other hand, they leave the freedom to each sports decision-making body to define the rules of their discipline in detail.

These developments have caused panic among reactionaries, particularly in 2022, when swimmer Lia Thomas became the first trans woman to win a college title. Her victorious example was used to support the idea that trans women pose a threat to (cis) women in sport, and thus gradually organize the restrictions.

Last month, more than a dozen college swimmers and volleyball players sued the NCAA, alleging that the athletic body had violated their rights under Title IX (an amendment passed in 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in state-funded education). programs) allowing Lia Thomas to compete in the 2022 National Women’s Swimming Championships.

Conservative lawmakers from across the country also weighed in on the debate NBC. Two dozen states now ban transgender students from participating in school sports that match their gender identity, according to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project. Although the Biden administration released a revised version of Title IX last Friday, specifying that the 1972 federal law prohibits anti-LGBTQ discrimination in schools, the situation remains extremely fragile for trans athletes. The government initially planned to include a policy barring schools from enacting blanket bans on transgender athletes, but withdrew in the face of pressure.

Across borders, the issue is also debated. In March 2023, the International Athletics Federation, for example, announced that it would exclude transgender athletes from women’s competitions.

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Source: Madmoizelle

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