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 an advantage 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 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, unless puberty blockers are administered early on, trans women develop as cis men—more muscle, les fat, grow taller if not larger physically after puberty hits. Unfortunately, when women don’t fit certain stereotypes of how women should perform, they’re restricted, even if they’re cisgender (and often this befalls people of color), and are required to either leave the sport or 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, and a whole bunch of other bullshit. This falls outside of most major sports’ requirements, which is that minimum 12-month span, testing that testosterone levels are below some artificial designation, and a whole other bunch of malarkey.

Unfortunately, transphobes have a right to be critical of including trans women. While after a year of HRT trans women have less muscle per pound of body weight than cis women, because they are still larger overall, their strength is still greater overall. This increases their chances of winning unfairly, denying cis women an equal chance to shine, obtain scholarships, advance their sports careers. Introducing a 1-year period for women to take HRT to lower their T levels to within an average cis range allows them the chance to still play and train, without giving them an unfair advantage. Allowing trans girls the chance to start puberty blockers early on will inhibit puberty, and deny any andrological puberty from happening; if they start later, I say allow them to train with girls, without participating in games till their T levels come down.

I once argued that maybe cis women should dial up their training and playing to an 11, in the name of competition. However, since women’s sports seem more about sisterhood and teamwork rather than the spirit of winning, it only makes sense that trans women, if they really insist that they are women, take at least HRT to equal themselves to their female peers.