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American Women Athletes Part Three: Trans women edition

First thing we need to do is define the word Transgender

Transgriot as usual leads offTransgender Athletes Get Into The Game

So as a transgender sports fan I was pleased to hear about the International Olympic Committee’s decision to allow transgender athletes to participate in the Olympics starting with the 2004 Athens Games. Under the Stockholm Consensus, the IOC allows transgender athletes to participate in their new gender two years after they’ve undergone genital surgery. If the operation took place before puberty, the athlete’s gender will be respected.

In the case of a post-puberty gender transition, the athlete must undergo complete genital surgery and get their gonads (their ovaries or testes) removed before they can compete. They also have to get legal recognition of their chosen gender, complete hormone therapy to minimize any sex-related advantages and wait two years before they can become eligible to apply for a confidential IOC evaluation.

While most trans women are okay with the new policy, trans men understandably bristled at the genital reconstruction requirement. Jamison Green in a 2004 CNN.com interview criticized the genital reconstruction completion requirement.

“I don’t think that needs to be a criteria,” said Green, who sits on the board of directors of the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. “Many female-to-male people can’t afford to have genital reconstruction, so I think that’s an unreasonable penalty.”

The ‘unfair advantage’ argument is actually a bogus one and medical science is increasingly backing that up. Even though a trans women grows up with testosterone coursing through her body, hormone replacement therapy takes the muscle building advantage away over time. A genetic female skeleton is lighter, so a trans woman has the handicap of lugging around basically a heavier skeleton with FEMALE musculature.The ‘unfair advantage’ argument is actually a bogus one and medical science is increasingly backing that up. Even though a trans women grows up with testosterone coursing through her body, hormone replacement therapy takes the muscle building advantage away over time. A genetic female skeleton is lighter, so a trans woman has the handicap of lugging around basically a heavier skeleton with FEMALE musculature.

One should note that as she gives a thumbnail sketch of the history of trans women athletes she includes some intersexed individuals as well.

Bitch Magazine Out of Bounds :Do Transsexual Athletes Throw Like Girls?

Still, the competitive sports world remained largely closed to transsexual athletes until 2004, when the International Olympic Com­mittee (IOC) ruled that they be allowed to compete under strict guidelines. (Among them: Those who have undergone sex reassignment and associated hormone therapy prior to puberty can now compete; those who begin their transition after puberty are eligible for participation if surgical anatomical changes and hormone therapy have been completed.)

Though not meant to be discriminatory, the IOC’s ruling includes requirements that make complying easier for mtfs than ftms. Many ftms, for instance, do not have the complicated and expensive genital surgeries that would give them the “proper” anatomical equipment required to compete; those who live in states (like Ohio and Idaho) or nations that do not allow a person to change their sex on official documentation would also be excluded. Furthermore, intersexed, transgendered, or gender­­queer individuals who may not have or want the IOC-required surgical anatomical changes or hormone therapy are subject to disqualification under these new rules. (Recently one of Zimbabwe’s leading junior athletes was outed as intersexed, legally declared a man, and subsequently charged with “impersonation” for competing as a woman in regional tournaments.) MORE

Women’s Sports Foundation Inclusion of Transgender Athletes on Sports Teams

The International Olympic Committee became the first mainstream sport governing body to develop a policy governing the participation of transgender athletes in the Olympic Games. This policy, known as the Stockholm Consensus, became effective at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. Based on a report and recommendations from a committee of medical doctors, the IOC policy includes a list of three criteria for approval of transsexual athlete participation.

Since the IOC policy went into effect, the Ladies Golf Union (Great Britain), the Ladies European Golf Tour, Women’s Golf Australia, the United States Golf Association, USA Track and Field, and the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association have created policies governing transgender athlete participation in events sponsored by their organizations. In addition, the Women’s Sports Foundation, United Kingdom and the United States-based Women’s Sports Foundation issued policy statements supporting the inclusion of transgender athletes in sport.

Most of these organizations have used the IOC standards as a guide for the development of their policies. In contrast, the National Collegiate Athletic Association requires that athletes compete in the gender designated on their official government documents, for example, driver’s license, birth certificate or passport (This policy is currently under review). To date, no high school governing bodies have announced policies addressing the participation of transgender athletes. However, it is clear that the issue of transgender athlete eligibility to participate in school-based sports will need to be addressed in the near future.MORE Blockquote> They then go on to give a nice and useful summary and definition of terminology and some reccomendations.

Washington State Support Policy for Participation of Transgender Athletes

Renee Richards Tennis Player

Mianne Bagger Golfer

Michelle Dumeresq Cyclist

Kristen Worley Cyclist

By the way this part of the article is super important:

“It’s the age-old phenomenon of people fearing what they don’t know,” said Jill Pilgrim, general counsel and director of business affairs for USA Track and Field Inc., who teamed up with a physician to do research on transsexual athletes. “When a male-to-female transsexual undergoes hormone therapy, they are reducing their testosterone levels and taking female hormones. They lose muscle mass, which is the advantage testosterone gives you.”

Pilgrim said she believes the only sport in which men-to-women transsexuals might have an advantage is swimming, because these athletes gain body fat, which assists buoyancy.

Get it? Got it? Good!

Terri O Connel Motorsports racing champion

Jennifer McCreath Marathon Runner Her blog

And because they kept showing up during my search…

Parinya Kiatbusaba or Parinya Charoenphol Thai boxing champion Beautiful boxer Film made about her.

And a Thai vollyeball team which has been immortalised in film Iron Ladies

And Andreas Paredes Chilean tennis Player

EDIT:From the International Olympic Committee website: International Olympic Committee approves consensus with regard to athletes who have changed sex

There were other articles, but they touch on a subject that I am not quite ready to introduce yet. Give me two weeks. In the mean time: we shall hit disabled women athletes next week!

2 comments to American Women Athletes Part Three: Trans women edition

  • Thank you for your (collective) coverage of the issue; It’s been fascinating and has brought several new aspects of the politics to my attention. I am slightly worried by this, from the first citation, though:

    Under the Stockholm Consensus, the IOC allows transgender athletes to participate in their new gender two years after they’ve undergone genital surgery.

    Is the language taken from the Stockholm Consensus?

    This paragraph and the one that follows it both link surgical reassignment to gender, rather than sex. The linked Wikipedia article recognises, but does not contest, the idea that the terminology of gender is misused to refer to all aspects of distinction between masculine and feminine, and of distinction between male and female, while ‘sex’ has become limited to references to coital activity. At least in the American mainstream media.

    I find this profoundly concerning for two reasons. One is philosophical and the other is political.

    Philosophically, there seem to be two different things being analysed as if they were the same thing, which pretty much guarantees people are going to end up wrong about both. Gender is intrinsically self-determinant. Cultural indoctrination may well guarantee that vast numbers of people have no real “choice”, but it’s still in their heads. Masculine and Feminine are constructs. I’m quoting fairly standard feminist theory here, and suspect I’m not saying anything controversial.

    Male and Female and Intersex are not constructs, they’re empirical realities. They are also mutable; that’s what sex reassignment surgery is for. What leads me to query this quote is that it seems crucial, to me, that the difference between sex and gender is re-established in popular discourse about this topic.

    Too many people already talk as though sex and gender were the same; this leads to errors of thinking, errors of understanding and (ultimately) the categorisation of those who are transexual as being identical to the 15-yr-old boy who wants to experiment with wearing lipstick to school.

    That leads me to the second issue, the political one; I don’t think this is an accident. As this article also implies, my reading of the last 30 years is that the conflation of sex with gender is part of the same kind of propaganda that linked “gay man” with “paedophile” in the minds of the Reagan-era public; a link which still gets people I know turned out of social housing, even now.

    The Bible Belt are much more scared of the idea that Man and Woman (that is, Male and Female) are mutable rather than absolute concepts, than the idea that guys might wear dresses. If Man can become Woman through a personal choice they make, what does that do to the doctrine of male superiority by Divine right, upon which Fundamentalist suppression of, and violence towards, women is based?

    But it’s very very useful, to the heinous jokers who lead the Religious Right, to be able to conjure up scary images of MTF transexuality [1] every time some Kansas teenager decides he wants to wear a skirt around the house to see what it feels like. These people don’t want his parents to think, “Ah, our son is displaying commendable self-reliance and an inquiring mind; we must encourage his exploration of self-hood”.

    They want his parents to freak right the hell out, ground his ass for a year and take him down to the local Hellfire ministry for “exorcism” before their precious son becomes an outcast and a pariah. If the irrational can, through cash dollars and saturation repetitions, create a popular narrative which conflates sex with gender, it becomes much easier to pull slight-of-mind scaremongering tricks. Just like what they did to the word “liberal”.

    [1] Transexuality in others really shouldn’t scare people, certainly not anyone with a modern education. But when people live in theocratic a places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Arkansas, they grow up with a monocultural, and medieval, view of such things. They lack any access to a source of data which they are conditioned to trust and which will also tell them the truth. Luminescent mould can scare the medieval mind-set: in areas where it still holds sway, I’m not shocked to find that transexuality can scare fundamentalists.

  • Butterflywings

    I wish people would stop confusing intersex and transsexual.
    Referring to the Transgriot post.
    At least you (this is @ ABW) noted that some intersex people are included, so thanks for that, but the original post is just a mishmash. Is it so hard to note ‘and now I am going to talk about intersex’? Why even the need to include intersex people in that post?
    This is really annoying me because it does harm the vast majority of intersex people, who have no problem with their gender and understandably, resent the implication that they do.
    Which links to the excellent point made by John Q Publican above, about the distinction between sex and gender.