Transgender Athletes Need to Be Given Separate Categories from Cis Women

Mason Rath, Staff Writer

A recent court case in Minnesota ruled that U.S. powerlifting must allow transgender females to compete alongside their cisgender female counterparts. The decision sent a wave of discourse throughout the nation, with advocates for transgender equality celebrating and many others angered. The issue comes down to what people value as more important, equality and representation for the transgender community, or fairness and integrity of competition for cisgender women.

Proponents of assimilating trans women into women’s sports mostly use the argument that part of having equality for all is having equality in all areas of life, and that people cannot be selective when they choose to support equality for trans people. The National Review states that the aforementioned case’s reasoning for its decision was that “the harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than. That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA [Minnesota Human Rights Act] prohibits.” The court also argued that while being biologically male has advantages, being transgender comes with so many struggles that these struggles make up for any advantage. Jaycee Cooper, the transgender lifter who filed the case on discrimination, also says that “after years of experiencing discrimination from USA Powerlifting, and the backlash that has occurred due to that, of course I have complex feelings about the sport, but I think that this win–is a representation of where we can move forward.”

Despite these arguments made by advocates and the court, most of America is opposed to trans athletes joining women in professional sports. According to PEW Research Center Polls only 28 percent of Americans felt that transgender women should be allowed to compete with cisgender women. The reasoning for this comes down to the fact that men and women are biologically different from one another. Men naturally have more muscle mass, denser bones, and produce much more testosterone. These factors give them a natural advantage in sports, which is why separate leagues and divisions are made for women in almost all sports. This is not separating women from men out of prejudice or beliefs that they are lesser than, but to empower them to be able to be competitive in sports. In fact, The National Review reveals that USA Powerlifting president Larry Maile says that “our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women, whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports.” Many make the argument that just because they might have some advantage, not all transgender athletes are inherently stronger, faster, or overall, more athletic than women. This fails to consider that a transgender woman will have to physically work themselves much less to achieve the same level of strength as a cisgender woman. In the end this tarnishes the point of the sport, especially one like powerlifting that is solely dependent on sheer strength and athleticism. The point being to allow the athletes to demonstrate their skills and hard work. When a transgender woman walks in and demonstrates their strength, it is much less impressive as they simply have a better predisposition to be that strong. However, they are still able to win the competition with the help of their genetic strength superiority.

The point of this article is not to say that transgender women should not be able to be competitive athletes. In order to fix the issue, steps need to be taken to be more inclusive of transgender women while still keeping things fair for the cisgender women. As seen in the Boston Marathon’s non-binary division, it is very well possible to make new divisions for genders other than male and female. The competitive sporting world does not even need to go this far, as they could focus on instead rebranding their current categories. Instead of simply calling them male and female categories, they could change the names to reflect biological sex, or something more inclusive of the fact that not all men and women that are born a certain gender identify as that gender. This would allow trans or non-binary people to compete in the category where they would be fairly matched while still not forcing them to pretend to be a different gender than what they choose. Overall, the solution for the issue of transgender athletes is simply separating them from cisgender women, while providing them their own category to still be able to compete.