Opinion | Trans women belong in women’s sports

Opposing the inclusion of trans women in women’s sports is not protecting cis women and girls.

Peyton Downing, Opinions Columnist


During a pandemic that’s claimed thousands of American lives, Republicans seem to be set on pursuing needless legislative actions. It’s gotten to the point where the U.S. Senate and House Republicans have put forward the Protect Women and Girls’ Sports Act — with one of its cosponsors being Iowa’s very own exiled Congressman Steve King.

The bill, in summary, says that if you’re assigned male at birth, you have to compete with men. Any federally funded program that doesn’t have assigned male at birth individuals competing with men will lose funding if they do not comply with this act.

Not only do the cosponsors of this act fail to provide any strong evidence pointing to a need for its existence, but it would also harm the very sports it claims to protect.

Enforcing this act would be incredibly invasive to children’s and women’s bodies. Because there are states that allow you to change your gender marker on your birth certificate without it being noted, the only way to put this into practice is to require cisgender women to take DNA tests or do genital inspections.

If you think that’s me scaremongering about the potential, I’m not. The Georgia Legislature proposed a bill that contains genital inspection because that is the only way in which these types of legislations can be enforced.

This legislation also completely neglects the existence of intersex people — those of us whose chromosomes are not XX or XY, or do not exhibit similar traits as people with the standard makeup.

For example, Caster Semenya is an intersex South African Olympic track runner who was designated female at birth. But due to her hyperandrogenic condition, she is not allowed to compete in women’s athletics unless she takes medication to artificially lower her testosterone levels. Depending on the individual, general inspection and DNA testing can give a false impression as to whether or not someone “is a woman.”

The only way that trans women can be excluded is if the people enforcing the rules are also OK with examining cis women as well.

This is to not even mention the fact that being trans does not guarantee you win.

In a highly publicized case out of Connecticut, three cis girls filed a lawsuit because they were beaten by trans woman. But one of them managed to beat her competitor in a race one week later.

A male puberty certainly gives advantages as far as athletic skill, but so do plenty of things. Are we going to start banning girls who are too tall because their long legs give them an advantage? Are we going to start banning people who produce less lactic acid like Michael Phelps?

Legislation like this is not pushed out of an interest for and the sanctity of women’s sports. The Protect Women and Girls Sports Act — along with the 30+ anti-trans bills in various state legislatures — are designed to ostracize and discriminate against trans-people for the sake of creating a new outgroup now that being gay is far more acceptable in the public eye.

I will finish by saying that there is a discussion to be had on the degree to which male puberty can provide a benefit and ways in which the playing field can be leveled. But that discussion will never be held in good faith so long as the opposition to inclusion is an outright, blanket ban without any forethought to inclusion.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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