The Trials and Travails of Transness: Trans Women in Women's Sports

by Shaker Alexmac, a transgender woman studying at the University of Florida.

[Part 5 in an ongoing series. Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here; Part 3 is here; Part 4 is here.]

[Some of the links have a trigger warning.]

The topic of trans women in women's sports has been brought up again recently due to a UK boxer, Mercedes Newbiggin, transitioning to become female. Her transition has brought out the typical transphobic responses, such as this gem from the conservative Fox News show Red Eye (Google it if you want; I am not going to link to them) with a panelist suggesting a show called "Million Dollar Tranny" and using the wrong pronouns. It is not anything new being slung at a prominent trans person.

Because she plans on competing in women's boxing after her transition, there's a whole extra level of vitriol, as can be seen in this webpage (check out the delightful comments). This echoes an earlier brouhaha about a trans woman who won the women's long drive competition.

The biggest complaint about trans women competing in women's sports is that they have an unfair advantage over cis women. While trans women who have male levels of testosterone do have a larger muscle mass then cis women, after a certain amount of time on hormones, the average muscle mass of transitioning trans women is no different than the average for cis women. Any advantage they had due to the influence of male hormones is gone. This is covered very well at the Women's Sport Foundation. Fortunately, progress has been made in letting trans women, who have undergone hormone replacement therapy and surgery, participate in high level sports where there tends to be the biggest problems.

The challenges these women face is the same that all trans people have to face. Our gender is not seen as real or authentic and for we are transitioning for some sort of benefit. An example of the theme can be found in this quote:
In golf we've all witnessed Michelle Wie's attempts to compete with the men, and we've watched her fail on every occasion. Most women wouldn't even dare try. But surely any member of the PGA Tour would have incredible success if he went Juwwana Man and joined the LPGA Tour, right?

Granted, the Long Drive Association isn't the prototypical professional golf tour, but the U.S. Women's Open is governed by the USGA and that means a transwoman could compete in that event.

I have a hard time believing that surgery, testosterone inhibiting drugs and a good degree of mental manipulation can erode all traces of masculinity. Who would you give better odds of hitting a golf ball farther, little Paula Creamer or a lady who used to rough up gang members for a living as a 245-pound man and just so happened to be an above average golfer?

Regardless of whether or not I believe gender transformation should be an acceptable social practice, it really has no place in sports. Under no circumstances should a two-year hiatus, some expensive surgery and a cocktail of drugs allow someone to play from the forward tees.
With all the criticism and attacks that she is going to face, I just have to tell Mercedes: You go girl! Don't let the haters keep you down.

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