Monday, November 08, 2010

What Trans Sporting Advantage?

One of the arguments that has come up since junior GWU guard Kye Allums became the first open transperson playing NCAA Division I basketball is that he would have an advantage playing against cis women as a male.

Oh really now?    Care to ask the now retired Reggie Miller when he played against his Hall of Fame enshrined older sister Cheryl who is the better basketball player in their family? 

I heard this whine as a teenager when Renee Richards transitioned back in the mid 70's and had to go to court to play in women's tennis events.   She eventually won the right to do so and competed on the professional women's tour from 1977-1981.

What was Renee Richard's highest ranking achieved?   20th in 1979.   And how many Grand Slam singles titles did she win?   The same number as Anna Kournikova:  Zero .

Canadian mountain biker Michelle Dumaresq won three Canadian and one world championship in mountian biking while enduring an avalanche of complaints from other cis female competitors and having one cis female competitor, Danika Schroeter suspended for unfurling a '100% pure Woman Champ shirt during the 2006 Canadian nationals.

It was only a matterof time before the issues that we faced in terms of employment and other areas started trickling into the sporting arena.

It is presumed that a male to female transperson, because we grew up with testosterone fueling our growth spurts, gives us an advantage because we tend to be taller with denser bone structures. 

However, what people forget is that we also have to lug that same dense skeleton around with musculature that has now elongated to feminine lengths and have less strength to do it with

In addition to that problem we now have to get adjusted to the playing our fave sports in a feminine (or masculine) body, and it takes time.  Professional golfer Mianne Bagger has stated that she's noticed she can't hit a golf ball as far as she used to.  I play tennis, and it took me a few years to not only get adjusted to the new centers of gravity for my body and the gradual changes I only became aware of as I played matches post transition, I now have to deal with a less powerful serve and had to alter my style of play to compensate for it.   

And on top of that, as with all aspects of trans life, there's not a whole lot of research that has been done on the subject of HRT on people who transition while doing a world class athletic training regimens.

This upcoming NCAA women's basketball season for GWU is definitely going to be an interesting one.

With transpeople transitioning at earlier ages, it's only a matter of time before we have a teenage transman wish to try out for his local football team and a teen transwoman want to play girls sports at her high school.

It's a win-win for the transperson and society if we get to play the games we love and learn those important life lessons that sports teaches us.

It's past time we come up with common sense rules that not only are fair to all involved, but protect the human rights of transpeople who simply wish to compete and experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat  through sporting achievement like everyone else on the planet.

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