The other day I observed a debate on Facebook about whether transgender woman athletes should have their own division in competitive sports. Over the last few years I’ve seen a lot of discussion on the transgender athlete topic, and if one thing is certain, it is a point of great contention and clashing opinions. One ‘side’ wants the right to be recognized and allowed to compete as the gender they identify as, and the other side says they shouldn’t, as transgender women may have an unfair physical advantage over cis women. I was looking at the situation to try and see how these two sides could move forward without conflict. However, it is clear that since the issue of transgender rights is so fraught with personal opinion around the interpretation of gender, something needs to change that would remove the debate altogether.
For decades sports have had a dual gender system, based on the fact that the male body is typically physically larger and stronger than the female body. But it occurred to me that some sports like boxing for instance, have weight divisions. So wouldn’t it make sense to totally overhaul other sports with a system of physical capability divisions? Like having a set of physical tests / trials an athlete must go through to qualify to join a team, regardless of their gender? And to have different weight / strength divisions within all sports, also regardless of gender?
I mean this debate about what’s ‘fair’, is not going to go away. People aren’t just magically going to find a solution with things remaining as they are because – transgender introduces a new factor into an old structure. And there is clearly too much opinion being tossed around. So the question is, how do you change the old structure to accommodate something new in a way that is practical and best for everyone? It seems to me the best way is to eliminate the possibility of debate through making all sports only about physical capability regardless of gender. That might sound radical but the issue of transgender athletes also is placing people in a position where they have to face their personal self definitions and attachments to the idea of ‘sports’ as it has traditionally been. What is more important: preserving a tradition and personal preference, or preventing conflict?
I’m not really a sports guy so maybe I’m missing something, but what’s your take on the issue?