Today I am writing about an issue that is happening in my home state of Minnesota (I will continue blogging my way through the alphabet later). On October 1, the Minnesota State High School League postponed voting on whether transgender high school athletes should be able to train and compete on the team who’s gender they identify as until December. This prompted two fear mongering ads saying “males” would be showering with “girls” and the girls (who obviously can’t keep up with these “males”) would lose out on sports scholarships.
I have written about the issue of intersex people at the Olympics several times on this blog. The issue that everything boils down to is perceived physical advantages males (or intersex people) have over women in sports. First of all this is very sexist, the marathon finishing time for men and women in closing every year (women’s fat distribution makes them better equipped for distance running, and allegedly men hold back to protect their genitals from getting bounced around too much). If we take gender out of the picture we realize all sports have physical features that make them easier. For example, being taller is an advantage in basketball, and being lighter is an advantage in ski jumping. Being intersex is not really an advantage, AIS women have less testosterone then ciswomen. These advantages or disadvantages are in both men and women’s sports, why can’t transgender and intersex people be seen as another variation with its own advantages and disadvantages?
As for locker room problems, that is something transgender people have been struggling with for ages. Perhaps a separate locker room for them would make all parties more comfortable? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that transgender people have a lot more to fear from a public restroom then cisgender people who might encounter a transgender person there. In any case, implying a rape threat by saying a “male” is showering with your high school daughter is blatant fear mongering. As a side note, it usually works the other way. The few cases of transgender high school athletes have been transmen, not transwomen.
I hope the state I call home makes the right decision and stands up for transgender rights. Everyone should have the right to compete, or at least try out for, the team they are comfortable with. There are many cases of women competing on the men’s high school sports teams. If we put aside our transphobia, we will realize this is not a difficult issue to solve.