Skip to content

Boys as girls

Transgender athletes changing the game

It was bound to happen, what with this increasingly vitriolic battle over which particular human right deserves ascendancy over another.

Of course it was once naively believed we deserve the same rights and while no human is ever exactly equal to another, due to our unique abilities and offsetting foibles, we should all be granted equality of opportunity.

It was also once believed along with these cherished rights came a corresponding responsibility, that of acting with respect, grace and compassion, to our fellow citizens and society as a whole.

Well, that old-fashioned idea certainly is one for the sociology history books.

Nope, today we are manic in a quest not simply for our rights, but also in a desire to have extra-special ones: rights that invariably end up trampling upon those of our fellows. And that’s when we discover one person’s deemed right can be a rude slap in the face to someone else.

Certainly several high school girls in Connecticut – once the athletic cream of the crop at track meets – feel their rights were ignored when the state ruled transgender athletes could race against them.

The government declared all students should be treated according to the gender with which they identify, so if they are born male but feel female they can run and jump against girls.
And with lucrative athletic scholarships to universities at stake this is an economic calamity as well as a sporting one for those young women no longer reaching the podium.

Now a lawsuit’s been filed on behalf of three of the girls, attempting to reverse the ruling.

"Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field," said their lawyer, Christiana Holcomb.

 "Women fought long and hard to earn equal athletic opportunities. Allowing boys to compete in girls' sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women. We shouldn't force these young women to be spectators in their own sports," she told the local paper.

One of the athletes involved said while she’s happy transgender students can be true to themselves allowing them to compete in the same races is unfair to her and other female runners.

"We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing," she said.

This issue isn’t going away, not with many thousands of dollars at stake in scholarships nor, down the road, places on Olympic teams or at major professional sporting events.

Authorities in the professional ranks have tried instigating testosterone reduction regulations for athletes who have male attributes but desire to run as women – South African runner Caster Semenya being a famous example – but now such moves are being successfully challenged in court.

So if self-expression becomes the accepted sole arbitrator of a person’s gender then the logical path puts the future of top-flight women’s sport in serious jeopardy.

For years women tennis players fought a gruelling battle to get the same prize money as their male counterparts at Wimbledon. Today there’s a similar move brewing in women’s soccer.

Yet just when that rights battle is seeing results it would be ironic if a different rights demand from transgender competitors made it much more difficult for women to reap big rewards from their sport.

Take for example a male marathon runner capable of hitting a 2:15 time. That might place him Top 10 at the lucrative London or New York marathons. Declare you identify as a woman and not only will you take home the massive first prize but you’ll also scoop more cash for breaking the female course record.

That’s a lot of moolah in play. So could we put a stop to this? Nope. We don’t have that right.


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks