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The student news site of Ritenour High School.

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Transgender athletes under scrutiny

The transgender community fights for their right to compete
Transgender+athletes+under+scrutiny
Klayton Wilkinson

As awareness of the transgender community grows, the world is coming to a split in their beliefs. 

There has been an increase in acceptance in the media, as well as efforts to further education about the group. These efforts have fostered understanding and broken down stereotypes regarding the community. However, there is a lot of cultural ignorance and misunderstanding regarding the transgender community. 

“Man, this world can be such a scary place for people like me. I mean obviously, I have a huge group of people who support me, which is so sweet and amazing, but there are also a lot of people who have zero respect, like growing up,” senior Kyle Fray said. 

Transgender athletes

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On the other hand, the topic of transgender athletes has been controversial throughout the country. There is a growing concern as these athletes are being banned throughout the states 

Those in opposition may argue that they’re supporting and trying to protect women’s and girls’ athletic opportunities and scholarships that didn’t exist for them years ago. 

The LGBTQ community may feel there is a growing threat and backlash surrounding this topic. States such as Kansas have banned transgender athletes from participating in k-12 athletics. This restriction also includes preventing the use of locker rooms and other facilities with gender-specific assignments. 

“We may face the very real threat of having to move, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Cat Poland as a mother to a trans son in an article by Kansas City PBS Newshour. “They just keep taking the next, the next step, the next step, until where are trans people supposed to go? Where can they exist to be safe and live happy and fulfilling lives?”

Texas became one of the most popular states to ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports at public schools. Texas interscholastic rules had already banned athletes from competing outside the gender they were assigned at birth unless they had changed their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.

Supporters of the new law say that it promotes fairness because, without such legislation, women’s sports could be dominated by transgender athletes who have gained the strength and other possible advantages produced by hormones while going through puberty.

“Coming from the perspective of an athlete, I personally believe that it’s a very touchy subject. I don’t believe transgender women or men belong in sports they transition to or identify as. I feel like women already have very few opportunities to play professionally. Since there are biological advantages natural-born men have especially after puberty I just don’t think it’s fair. The prime example of that is Lia Thomas,” junior Hailey Ebert said.

Lia Thomas is an American transgender swimmer. She is the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship. During Thomas’ time competing in the male division, she was ranked 65th in the 500yrd freestyle and 554th in the 200yrd freestyle. Then, when she entered the women’s division she ranked 1st in the women’s 500yrd freestyle as well as 5th in the 200yrd freestyle. 

“Over the past 50 years, females have finally been able to celebrate our differences and create a division that enabled us to achieve athletic endeavors similar to our male counterparts,” said Caroline Bruce McAndrew in the PBS article. 

These massive jumps in ranking show the real significance of the difference between biological men’s and women’s abilities to perform athletically.

This work and progress may feel as if their opportunity is going down the drain, as trans women enter women’s competition. 

Biological Factors

As new laws are being passed, the research is still incomplete when it comes to what advantages transgender athletes may have in competitions, especially if they have gone through Hormone Replacement Therapy. 

What is known is that there are genetic factors at play based on gender at birth that could allow for some advantages in an athletic competition, depending on the sport.

“Men and women are made up differently biologically, down to the way our chromosomes are made up, so putting a biological male in a woman’s competition automatically puts them at an advantage,” Ebert said. “There are huge physical differences between the two. These very differences start at the age of puberty, which can happen pretty young for some kids. Throughout the years of puberty and just growing into your body these differences only become bigger.”

Speaking from a medical standpoint  Sarah Berga who is a doctor specializing in Infertility, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology said “If you do a study in men and then do another study in women you will not have learned anything about sex differences. You may have learned about X in men and Y in women but you probably won’t have gotten the full story.” 

While both sexes have reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, they are at vastly different levels. In today’s society, many people tend to use sex and gender interchangeably which can lead to confusion and miscommunication. For example, a transgender woman would still need screening for prostate cancer as well as other male-oriented appointments.  

According to Rochester University Medical Center, trans people are actually at a slightly higher risk of getting certain cancers that are related to hormone usage, including, breast, uterus, ovaries, prostate, lung, colon, or liver cancer. This often depends on the stage of transition and development. 

There are also other medical issues that come with taking hormones, whether they are used for masculine or feminine effects. These issues include blood clots, changes in blood pressure, increases in cholesterol or triglyceride levels, liver damage, blood thickening, heart disease, and strokes. 

Transgender Rights

The experiences of transgender individuals vary across all ethnicities, social and world statuses, races, ages, and all other background differences. 

“Transgender rights are human rights and people have to learn to accept that,”’ Fray said. 

As awareness and acceptance grow in society, there is an overall shift in attitude and inclusivity. There is increased visualization in the media and there are growing educational efforts being brought forward. 

“As a supporter of the trans and LGBTQ community, I think it’s really nice to see people accepting trans people and trans women as women as well as trans men as men. It has definitely taken a lot of effort to get where we have gotten,” senior Timarah Roark said. “I’m really glad they’re making more places that are more genderless like bathrooms and public areas too because while I believe people should be able to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in, it can lead to a number of problems.” 

An article written in Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response by Marco Chan stated “Gender-neutral bathrooms tend to be safer for people of all backgrounds and genders because they tend to be single-stalled. These bathrooms also allow non-binary people to feel comfortable and safe in a bathroom.”

There haven’t been many legal cases or protection laws put in place for the protection of the transgender population. This community has been discriminated against for years. This hate has been in the involvement of employment, marriage, medicine, jail/prison, and the military. Transgender people are more likely to experience homelessness, unemployment, and mental illness than people who identify as their biological sex. 

As the battle rages on in the public eye, unease grows within all communities. 

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About the Contributors
Peyton House, Staff Reporter
Peyton is in her first semester on the Pepper Box staff. She joined the Pepper Box because she enjoys writing and needed a filler in her schedule. In addition to working on the newspaper, she also plays softball, swims, and throws in track. In the future, Peyton would like to become an engineer and life a fulfilled life.
Klayton Wilkinson, Staff Reporter
Klayton Wilkinson is in his first year on the Pepper Box staff. He joined Pepper Box because he was invited by Stein. In addition to working on the school newspaper, he alsos spend much time drawing, and being outside. In the future, Klayton would like to become a mechanical/ aerospace engineer and put something awesome sauce into space.

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