There has been an increased debate over trans women in sports erupting throughout the country. Many states are creating bills that aim to limit or prohibit trans individuals’ involvement in sports. While this has become a pressing topic as we should protect trans rights, I feel that politicians are using this debate to distract from real key issues in women’s sports.
Given the scope of this debate and how much the media has been discussing this issue, one can assume that this issue is currently affecting women’s sports. In reality, this “issue” makes up a small percentage of women’s sports. Trans athletes are not actually outperforming women or winning everything. There are very few events or sports trans athletes tend to perform better in. Trans athletes make up a very small percentage of women’s sports, and rarely outperform women.
The main argument countering these debates is that by not allowing trans athletes in women’s sports, we are diminishing their identity. This argument is on point, preventing people from being involved in sports based on how they identify is discriminatory. This is counteracting all of the efforts that trans individuals and allies put into allowing trans people to simply exist. By requiring trans people to perform with their sex assigned at birth, we are essentially saying how they identify does not matter.
The fact of the matter is that Republican lawmakers do not care about making women’s sports more “equal”. This discourse is allowing republicans to deter from real laws that would actually benefit women’s sports, to push a transphobic agenda. If this was caring about women’s sports, there would be a push for equal opportunity, equal pay, better access to equipment and coaching, or reducing sexist behaviors or comments. Female athletes are constantly underpaid, lack media coverage, and are simply not taken seriously. They are also given limited resources in comparison to men’s sports. There are so many examples of women’s issues in sports that need attention, but trans women simply existing and having their identity recognized is not one of them.
This discourse is a distraction to push a transphobic agenda and deter attention away from real issues in women’s sports, and it is actually working. We now have to yet again defend trans rights as we take steps back from actually achieving real equality. I hope that in the future we can return back to discussing issues that affect women’s sports and provide solutions that are actually needed while respecting trans identities.