Athletes are competitive. They enter and play their sports to win. Sometimes that competitive nature causes people to have adverse reactions to losing. Losing causes some people to cry; some to get angry; and some to quit. Losing even causes some to accuse the winners of cheating. We call those people sore losers. In women’s sports, sore losers occasionally hurl their accusations of cheating along with questions about the winner’s gender and sexuality. You’ve heard it before, “There’s no way she’s naturally that good; I mean look at her, she even looks like a man, she must be on steroids.” We’ve seen Serena subjected to unwarranted commentary about steroids and her sexuality because of her dominance. And remember Caster Semenya? She was kicking butt in the 800m when the sore losers accused her of cheating and not being a female. She was subjected to public and medical scrutiny and had her career ruined all to prove that she was 100% a female and had not cheated in any competition.
Lately, it appears sore losers are turning their attention to transgender athletes (“transathletes”). Specifically, they’re upset with those who have transitioned or are transitioning from male-to-female (MTF). Many claim that their frustration over competitive MTF transathletes is rooted in legitimate concerns about fairness. They’ll tell you that they just don’t want the MTF transathletes having an edge over cis females;* that they’re worried that hormone therapy doesn’t sufficiently negate the biology that makes males naturally stronger and more athletic than females. Last month in Alaska, for example, high school MTF transathlete, Nattaphon Wangyot, competed in the girls 100 and 200m races in the State Championship. She finished 5th in the 100m with a time of 13.36s and 3rd in the 200m with a time of 27.30s. Girls who didn’t qualify for the State Championship and those who lost to her whined that it wasn’t fair for Wangyot, who is undergoing hormone therapy, to compete because she actually has the strength and athleticism of a boy. They claim that they want Nattaphon to be open to live her life as she pleases, but she just shouldn’t be able to play sports because she has an unfair advantage.
Huh? What unfair advantage? Wangyot didn’t even make it to the podium in the 100m, her times were no where near the boys’ times, and her times wouldn’t get her anywhere near a State Championship in the lower 50 states. In other words, Wangyot isn’t some star female athlete. She’s an average runner and the girls she beat gave average or below average performances. That doesn’t sound like an unfair advantage to me. The sore losers are upset because they lost, not because they want a fair competition.
Disallowing Wangyot and other MTF transathletes from competition wouldn’t level the playing field anymore than it’s already leveled. Science and history prove it. First, hormone therapy in MTF transathletes causes a significant decline in traits that make one more athletic. It causes a redistribution of fat to the hips, thighs and buttocks, making things like running and jumping more difficult. Hormone therapy causes a significant decline in muscle mass, making the athlete weaker. And hormone therapy causes a significant decline in metabolism, causing the athlete to have to work twice as hard to build muscles as she did pre-hormone therapy. The increased estrogen and the androgen suppressants work. And if you don’t believe science, there are a trail of MTF transathletes whose careers show that the biology they were born with doesn’t help create superior, dominant athletes. For example, Renee Richards never dominated the tennis world. Mianne Bagger and Lana Lawless haven’t taken golf by storm. Fallon Fox can’t touch Ronda Rousey’s career and Chloe Anderson probably won’t be making the Olympic volleyball team.
So while sore losers might want to blame biology for their losses, they really have no right to. MTF transathletes have not created an unleveled playing field. They enter sports with physical attributes that are on par with other female athletes and that’s pretty clear. What isn’t always clear is the real root of the discontent with MTF transathletes. For some, it could legitimately stem from their competitive spirits. But for many the root is their discomfort with trans people. People fear what’s different, people refuse to educate themselves about what they’re ignorant to and people stand firm in their beliefs no matter what they’re based in. This allows people to be hateful, spiteful and judgmental. It creates wedges within humanity, prevents the spread of love and stifles the sharing of information. But that’s not what sports are about. Historically, sports have provided a space where people from all backgrounds and beliefs can unite and engage in competition. Competition has been enriched as sports have embraced people despite race, religion, nationality, orientation and disability. Sports should continue to be enriched by transathletes because they too will add to the greatness of sports. We can’t allow sore losers and those who uncomfortable with a group of people to change the nature and history of sports.
So how do you feel about competitive transgender athletes? Do you feel they have an unfair advantage or do you think people are being hateful or sore losers? Let us know what you think below. And be sure to keep up with GladiatHers® on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
For more information on transgender athletes visit: TransAthlete.com
*Cisgender is a term for someone who has a gender identity that aligns with what they were assigned at birth. The term was created for referring to “non-transgender” people without alienating transgender people. For example, if the doctor announces a baby as being a girl, and she is fine with being a girl, then she is cisgender.