Modern Australian

Elite sport is becoming a platform to target the trans community

  • Written by Ryan Storr, Lecturer in Sport Development, Western Sydney University

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova recently called the participation of transgender women in elite female sporting competitions “insane” and “cheating”.

And she’s not alone. Several other prominent women athletes have also used social media, mainly Twitter, to voice their concern about the eligibility of transgender women in sport, including former British swimmer Sharron Davies, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, and former long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe.

There is an inherent contempt that lies within these statements, and it impacts more than just trans athletes. It can impact the integrity of public discourse by reducing the debate to be about whether trans women are “real women”, and we need to move past this crude and destructive rhetoric.

Here, I use the term trans as an umbrella term to include all identities within the trans community, such as transgender and transitioned athletes.

What is the debate really about?

So why have we revisited this discussion in recent weeks? We are witnessing a broader movement against the trans community.

Australian gay rights activists Dennis Altman and Jonathan Symons call it the “queer wars” in their book of the same title. They explain how resistance to LGBTI issues across the globe is being used by governments and religious leaders to uphold traditional values, and increased polarisation towards LGBTI rights.

In recent years, we saw bathrooms used as a platform for division in the US. In 2016, North Carolina became the first US state to introduce a law prohibiting transgender people from using the restroom corresponding to their gender.

Read more: The transgender bathroom controversy: Four essential reads

Then, in Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby suggested a “yes” vote for marriage equality would lead to boys wearing dresses to the detriment of society.

And the UK saw backlash against a youth trans charity, called Mermaids, where half a million pounds of funding was disputed.

It seems sport is now being used as yet another tool to incite fear and hatred towards the trans community.

Some male commentators have raised concerns that the integrity of women’s sport is at risk. But where have these so-called male champions of change been in advancing women’s sport in recent years?

Another commonly-cited issue is that men might identify as women to reap rewards in competition. There have been no reported cases of men transitioning to women to earn money and dominate podiums. It is simply a myth.

Do trans polices in sport work?

The introduction of the International Olympic Committee’s policy on trans athletes in 2003 – amended in 2013 to remove surgical requirements and introduce a minimal level of testosterone – has led to no publicly out trans athletes competing at the Olympic games.

At the Commonwealth Games, trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard qualified, but had to withdraw due to injury.

Elite sport is becoming a platform to target the trans community Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard during for the Women’s +90kg Weightlifting Final at the Commonwealth Games, 2018. Dean Lewins/AAP

Therefore, the perception that trans women are, and will, dominate women’s elite sport is not supported with any clear evidence.

UK research also found, after reviewing a series of trans policies in elite sport:

“the majority of these policies were unfairly discriminating against transgender people, especially transgender females”.

Read more: Israel Folau's comments remind us homophobia and transphobia are ever present in Australian sport

If we are to start scrutinising the ethics and integrity around cheating and enforcing a level playing field, there are many other places we could start.

Match fixing, illegal gambling markets, substance abuse, and corruption have been found to exist within local grassroots matches in Victoria. Issues around ball tampering, match fixing at various levels of tennis, doping within various sporting codes, and salary cap breaches have also been reported at the elite level.

Particularly in women’s sport, there is a disproportionate allocation of funding and resources compared to men’s sport, a gross lack of media coverage, and women continue to fight for equal pay.

Advancing trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport

New guidelines and policies are being introduced from various sporting codes in the coming year in Australia.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission led the way with updated guidelines last year, but the most prominent policy to be released soon will be the Australian Human Rights Commission and Sport Australia’s guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Athletes in Sport. This will likely be adopted by most sporting codes in Australia.

But as the debate continues, it is important we hear from trans athletes. No trans person has the same transition experience and there is great diversity among the trans community. We also need to understand the wider impact of negative commentary against this community.

Read more: Being transgender is not a mental illness, and the WHO should acknowledge this

What we have seen so far from the Olympic movement is promising in promoting trans inclusion in sport. The International Olympic Committee released mini documentaries about trans athletes in sport, and Tokyo 2020 is set to have gender neutral bathrooms.

We must remember that sport is a human right, and should be accessible to everybody, regardless of gender identity.

Authors: Ryan Storr, Lecturer in Sport Development, Western Sydney University

Read more http://theconversation.com/elite-sport-is-becoming-a-platform-to-target-the-trans-community-113347

NEWS

Scott Morrison hails 'miracle' as Coalition snatches unexpected victory

The Coalition has been re-elected in a shock result in which Labor lost seats in Queensland, Tasmania and NSW and failed to make more than minimal gains nationally.But former prime...

Coalition likely to win election in Trump-like upset, but Abbott loses Warringah

Against expectations, Scott Morrison has led the Coalition government back to power.Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDWith 57% of votes counted in the election, the ABC is projecting that the Coalition...

what we know about the results of Election 2019 so far

As of 10.01pm Saturday, May 18 2019:...

Bob Hawke, the environmental PM, bequeathed a huge 'what if' on climate change

Since the news broke of his passing, Bob Hawke has been feted as the “environmental prime minister”. From saving the Franklin River, to protecting Antarctica from mining, conservationists have praised...

the social and demographic factors that influence your vote

Your income, type of work, where you were born, and other social and demographic factors influences your vote more than you may think.The Conversation / ShutterstockAustralia has changed in many...

Bob Hawke was master of managing government

It’s always easy to romanticise the past – in celebrating the prime ministership of Bob Hawke it is important to remember it had its peaks and troughs.Trouble marked many years...

Vic Stockwell’s Puzzle is an unlikely survivor from a different epoch

Sign up to the Beating Around the Bush newsletter here, and suggest a plant we should cover at batb@theconversation.edu.au.On the western side of Mount Bartle Frere, the tallest mountain in...

for the best election predictions, look to the betting markets, not the opinion polls

It turns out that betting markets are quite good predictors, on average.www.shutterstock.comOpinion polls haven’t done too well in some important recent elections.Polls failed to foresee the Brexit decision, and suggested...

economics isn't an end itself. There has to be a social benefit

When I was growing up in Adelaide in the 1970s I wanted to be like Bob Hawke. Other kids generally wanted to be cricket, football or rock stars. I wanted...

GetUp!'s brand of in-your-face activism is winning elections – and making enemies

GetUp! protesters outside the second leaders' debate in Adelaide earlier this month.David Mariuz/AAPIt can be hard for a political cause to get noticed in a jaded world awash with information...

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the passing of Bob Hawke

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor Leigh Sullivan speaks to Michelle Grattan about the week in politics. They discuss the passing of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke and his legacy...

As we face pressing global issues, the pavilions of Venice Biennale are a 21st century anomaly

One of the most powerful images at this year's Venice Biennale is Christoph Büchel's Barca Nostra, 2018-2019, Shipwreck 18th of April 2015. La Biennale di VeneziaThe 58th Venice Biennale of Art opened last...

Popular articles from Modern Australian

Best 4 Sassicaia Wine with Soothing Taste and AromaMarvelous Makeover - 5 Tips to Revitalize Your Look This SummerWhat to Expect When Recovering from Gynecomastia SurgeryClickClack Pantry Range | Helping Australians save time & moneyThe Gentleman’s Guide to Wearing Custom TiesGynecomastia – Understanding the Facts and Treatment OptionsIs Coffee Good for you10 Foods Which Reduce Blood Sugar Levels4 Unexpected Reasons Why You Could Be Losing Your HairWhat to Do When Traveling From Australia to USAWhat we should know about ‘nitric oxide’ and why we need more of itDownsizing: What Is Too Small?5 unique ways to extract toxins from your bodyThe Art Of Bell-RingingModern Snapback Hats trending in Australia