Should transgender athletes compete in sports

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The inclusion of transgender individuals in society is an aspect that some countries agree with while others disagree on their existence. While pro-transgender countries support the need for equality and freedom of choice for all human beings, including the right to choose their gender despite the typical biological setting, countries against transgender argue the aspect is against the biological nature and has no basis. The differences and arguments on transgender individuals extend to the topic of their inclusion in sports. The issue has led to an uproar from different sides on who to allow and who do not. Allowing transgender individuals in sports means that the women who changed to men can participate in men’s sports while men who changed to transgender women can participate in women’s sports. The participation of transgender individuals was open in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Laurel Hubbard got approved by the IOC to compete in Summer Olympics in 2020 for weightlifting. These are among the few examples of transgender individuals and policies that allowed the individuals’ participation in sports. However, the differences in arguments involve the support for the aspect which involves transgender rights, while an argument against includes the physical advantage the transgender person has over other genders, as discussed in detail.

Ensuring Equal Rights

Sports are a product of society’s social constructions, which involves society’s behavior, rules, and identity. However, one of the crucial principles of sports is non-discrimination. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that individuals should treat others despite their culture, race, and gender (Vilain et al., 2017). Thus, despite being transgender, each athlete has the right to participate in any activity, including sports, as long as they are human. The fundamental principles of the Olympics in the Olympic Charter declare that sport is a human right where each individual has the right to practice any sport without discrimination from other participants (Vilain et al., 2017). It is required to ensure fair play, solidarity, and a spirit of friendship. According to history, women received cultural bans concerning their participation in certain sports until 1900, when women had the right to participate in Olympics (Kotschwar, 2014). In 1984, they got the right to participate in the Olympic marathon. Today, an example of an athlete banned from Lia Thomas in the swimming competition is discrimination against her right. Restricting women will make the athletes consider themselves discriminated against and invalidate their gender identity (Reynolds & Hamidian, 2021). Thus, society considers that each individual has the right to participate in any sports activity. In addition, the issues of gender discrimination are less in the community due to equality which involves the respect of each gender. Therefore, prohibiting transgender people from participating in sports defies their human rights and is against the current setting of society. Thus, transgender individuals should compete in sports to ensure equality among each person in society and avoid discrimination.

The physical advantage of Transgender Women over women

Despite the above-stated reason in support of allowing transgender individuals to participate in sports, the physical advantage transgender women have in sports over other women is a reason to justify the prohibition of the individuals in sports. The physical advantage that transgender women have over other women derives from their testosterone levels and muscularity. The testosterone levels between transgender women and other women are one of the biological reasons that put transgender women at an advantage. Testosterone is a hormone that is more dominant in men than women. It is associated with increased red blood cells through the stimulation of erythropoiesis (Harper, 2022). The aspect leads to higher hemoglobin in men than in women. Hemoglobin is essential for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the muscle tissues. Thus, the higher the hemoglobin, the higher the oxygen supply in tissues and increased endurance performance (Harper, 2022). The case is still dominant despite the transwomen claiming to have estrogen hormone injections to decrease their testosterone which has more minor effects (Jones et al., 2017). In addition, transgender women are more muscular than other women and hence have a competitive advantage. Trans women are already past the growth stage of human development and hence have muscles more than other women, and estrogen supplements cannot suppress them. Thus, they should be out of women’s sports competitions.

In retrospect, the subject of transgender individuals participating in sports is a question that requires proper analysis. Both ends of the argument contain solid reasons to support or prohibit the existence of the subject. Transgender individuals have the right to participate in sports since it is against their human rights to prohibit them. Thus, since each person has the right to participate in sports, valid through the Olympic Charter, transgender individuals have the right to participate in any sport as an aspect of their human rights. In contrast, transgender individuals, especially women, have biological differences which enable them to beat their opponents. The subject includes muscularity and high testosterone levels than binary females, which makes the competition unfair. It is evident despite the estrogen injections. Thus, there is a need for critical evaluation, which allows the observation of human rights and prevents biological differences from inducing inequality.

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  1. Harper, J. (2022). Transgender Athletes and International Sports Policy. Law and Contemporary Problems85(1), 151-165.
  2. Jones, B. A., Arcelus, J., Bouman, W. P., & Haycraft, E. (2017). Sport and transgender people: a systematic review of the literature on sports participation and competitive sport policies. Sports medicine47(4), 701-716.
  3. Kotschwar, B. (2014). Women, sports, and development: Does it pay to let girls play. Peterson Institute for International Economics: Washington, n. PB, 14-8.
  4. Reynolds, A., & Hamidian Jahromi, A. (2021). Transgender athletes in sports competitions: how policy measures can be more inclusive and fairer. Frontiers in sports and active living3, 704178.
  5. Vilain, E., Betancurt, J. O., Bueno-Guerra, N., & Martinez-Patiño, M. J. (2017). Transgender athletes in elite sports competitions: equity and inclusivity. In Transgender athletes in competitive sport (pp. 156-170). Routledge.
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