November 12th through the 19th is #TransgenderAwarenessWeek which is a week dedicated for bringing education, awareness and recognition of transgender people, issues, organizations and advocacy efforts. Leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance which memorializes the victims of transphobic violence.
Unfortunately, the current political climate in the United States has regressed on transgender rights. Transgender people have some of the highest rates of suicide and incidences of transphobic violence and discrimination.
In 2018 there are more openly transgender athletes taking part in many different sports all over the world than there have ever been before. Many sports leagues and organizations have been working to adopt more inclusive policies and programs for transgender athletes and working to make sports more trans inclusive. However, there has been a lot of controversy, discussion and general lack of education that have continued to hold back many trans athletes from achieving their full potential.
There hasn’t been much research done regarding the physiological effects of exercise and training on transgender individuals. Despite a general understanding of basic anatomy and physiology and evidence from research with similar approaches as well as performance statistics and advocacy efforts from transgender athletes that has helped to define transgender inclusive policies at the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is clear more research is required to encourage a better understanding and educated discussion on this topic.
In 2018, transgender athletes have had to face a variety of issues that have brought more discussion to the forefront.
- Mack Beggs (Wrestling) Had to fight in the girls’ division of wrestling in accordance with his birth certificate and won his 2nd state title, despite Begg’s himself advocating for his right to compete in the boy’s division. This brought up discussion regarding the hypocrisy behind Texas State Laws regarding gender division in high school sports as many parents (and Mack himself) felt it was unfair that he was competing in the girl’s division.
- Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood (Running) Both competed at the Connecticut Track and Field State Open where they won first and second place in their events. This created a lot of controversy regarding the perceived “unfair advantage” of transgender females in sports.
Despite such controversy however, transgender athletes have also made progress in 2018.
- Crossfit changed their transphobic policies to make the Crossfit Games inclusive to transgender athletes.
- Jillian Bearden (Cycling) signs with Specialized Bicycles as their first transgender athlete. This came months after Jillian was initially kicked off another team due to transphobia.
- University of Minnesota Lifeguard is taking action to make swimming and aquatics more accessible for transgender and non-binary people.
- U Sports (Canadian University Athletics) and USA Swimming have adopted new policies and guidelines focused on the inclusion of transgender athletes within their organizations. Including training on inclusion and awareness.
Here at Compete Magazine, we salute all transgender athletes, who are paving the road for the next generation. With their leadership and guidance, the future is bright for transgender athletes. It won’t be without its struggle, but with more trans athletes standing up against the hate and ignorance by staying active in their sports and speaking up; there is a lot we will learn.
By Dirk Smith