There is a great irony that distinguishes men’s sports from women’s sports. If a man has some kind of distinction or advantage, we celebrate it, even to the point we as a society value ”raw talent” to the detriment of training and teamwork. In women’s sports, however, it seems like we value ”playing fair” and ”an equal playing field”, to the detriment of winning.
I have spent years researching about trans men’s issues, rather than focusing on the legal, medical, and social issues facing trans women. Often, this is because I have found that ”general” discussions on trans rights focused more on trans women, to the exclusion of my transmasculine brothers; if the discussion were more ”progressive” and ”inclusive”, we would include our non-binary (“enby”) siblings … but us binary trans men, especially if not people-of-color, would still not have a seat at the table. So, I would just withdraw from the social debates that raged in the culture wars.
I have an idea why we are often invisible in this battle. We ”benefit” from the current patriarchal system, as it benefits masculinity over femininity. We still live with an institutionalized, racist system that benefits us if we’re white. By transitioning and living my life as a cis-passing, straight, white man, I have “gained” social advantages over everyone else, and because we benefit rather than suffer from the current system, any remaining or perceived issues we still have fall by the wayside compared to the major issues trans women, trans people of color, and
transtrenders “enbies” still face.
I understand, but it’s still a bitterness I often taste in my mouth.
Besides the “bathroom issue”, another major point of contention with transphobes are whether trans women, trans girls, and other transfeminine AMABs are allowed to compete against cis girls and women in physical sports. Because, during puberty, trans women develop like any other biological male—more muscle, les fat, grow taller, are physiologically larger and stronger than biological women. Sadly, when cissexual/biological women develop intersexed conditions that give them a competitive advantage (especially with women of color), they are required to take a hormone regimen to bring them in line with most other women. (It’s not just trans women that these new rules are targeting; it’s just trying to make a level playing field; it’s akin to banning drugs that give men an unfair advantage.)
Being a trans man, everything’s simpler: if I can’t meet team qualifications, I’m barred from joining a team. It wouldn’t be fair to the sports team or the competition in general to lower their standards to accompany me; as I also take testosterone, it would be unfair for me to compete against cisgender women.
Lately, one of the national swim team organizations has lengthened the time required to join a women’s sports team from 12 to 36 months. Fina, the international organization overseeing swimming, now pretty much bans trans women from swimming altogether, but will create an “open” league for anyone to compete in.
Biological women and other defenders of these bans have a right to be critical of including trans women. While after a year (or several) of HRT trans women have less muscle per pound of body weight than cis women, they are still generally larger and stronger than cissexual women. This increases their chances of winning unfairly, denying cis women an equal chance to shine, obtain scholarships, advance their sports careers. Biological men who were just “average” in men’s divisions now can shine in competing against biological women.
And what about biological men who “identify” as “transfeminine” but not as “women”? Should they be allowed to compete against cissexual women? Definitely not.
I once argued that maybe cis women should dial up their training and playing to an 11, if women’s sports were purely about competition. However, since women’s sports seem more about fair play than winning, it only makes sense that trans women should be excluded from professional, elite sports and competition, so that women’s sports remain fair.