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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Transgender athletes deserve equality in sports

    Staff Writer

    By Ivy Kwok

       In the world of sports, transgender women face difficult challenges. Their inclusion in female specific sports has been contested due to various biological factors. However, transgender women should have the ability to participate in the womens’ category, regardless of their natural born sex.   

       Many argue that allowing male-to-female transgender athletes to compete in womens’ sports grants them an unfair physical advantage compared to other players. While it is true that men are physically stronger than women and, according to, have more muscle mass on average, transgender individuals must follow specific physical guidelines if they wish to compete.

       Most competitive sports organizations have rules that regulate biological components of transgender athletes to avoid giving them possible advantages.

       The International Olympic Committee’s guidelines require that “males can be eligible for female competition if they demonstrate a testosterone level of less than ten nanomoles/liter for at least one year prior to competition.” 

       Similarly, the National Collegiate Athletic Association states that transgender women must show proof of completing at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment.

       Testosterone, a primary male sex hormone, is largely responsible for giving males their biological advantage over females. According to Harvard Health, it plays an important role in muscle development and is known to affect physical characteristics like muscle mass, bone growth, and overall strength. 

       While taking hormone suppressants significantly decreases the chance that the biological sex of transgender athletes impact their performance in a sport, it is extremely intrusive and comes with serious risks that can damage an athlete’s overall health.

       A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that transgender women on hormone therapy had higher chances of developing blood clots and 80 to 90 percent were more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than cisgender women.

       If a transgender individual is willing to expose their body to such fatal risks in order to meet specified qualifications, they have every right to compete in the gender category of their choice. 

      Some say hormone suppressants alone will never completely mask one’s biological advantages and suggest creating a third category specifically for transgender athletes. 

       However, Alison Heather, a physiologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, stated to Wired Magazine, “As a transgender person myself, I don’t want to compete in a third category, which many people would see as a freak category.”

       All competitive sports should allow transgender women the freedom to compete in the female category. In addition, sports organizations need to ease the restrictions that prevent these athletes from competing at all. Not only does this encourage people to challenge their views on longstanding gender roles, it is a step towards a more welcoming environment for transgender individuals in general.

       “Sport can be a life-saver for transgender people,” stated LGBTQ sports advocate Helen Carrol to NBC News. “They’ve been fighting themselves and feeling like they were in the wrong body, and sport[s] gives them a place to be happy about their body.”

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