It’s been 125 years since the modern Olympics were founded in Athens, and this year will see a monumental first for the world’s biggest sporting competition: the inclusion of Laurel Hubbard, a transgender female athlete, in the women’s weightlifting competition. In 2015, the IOC issued guidelines that allow transgender athletes to compete as a woman if their testosterone levels are suppressed to predetermined level prior to competing. Scientific advisers to the IOC argue that hormone therapy is sufficient in creating a level playing field between transgender athletes and biological females. Trans women, they maintain, who have undergone estrogen therapy, do not possess a material athletic advantage over cisgender women. Critics of the current IOC policy argue that the suppression of testosterone does not mitigate many of the physical advantages gained by those who have gone through puberty as males - such as developing a bigger heart, more lung capacity, longer skeletal structures, etc. Separate sports categories for women and men were created to give female athletes the chance to compete against each other and win on approximately equal terms. Including transgender women in sports competitions like the Olympics is profoundly unfair to cisgender females and denigrates their hard work and sacrifice as elite athletes.
Arguing for the motion is Joanna Harper, trans athlete, medical physicist, and adviser to the IOC on matters of gender and sport.
Arguing against the motion is Gregory Brown, Professor of Exercise Science at University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“We need to be very careful when we make arguments that trans women athletes are displacing other women, because in a sociological sense they are indeed female."
“If you're going to compete, you should have a chance to win. Including a trans woman who runs 12% faster than a cisgender woman makes it very difficult for it to be a meaningful competition.”
Sources: BBC, RNZ, Good Morning Britain, Fox News, France24
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