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A Transgender Woman’s Thoughts on NAIA’s Decision of Women’s Sports

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SAU chapter.

I want to preface by first saying I don’t play sports, I don’t play basketball, and I know for a fact that I’ll never be a professional college athlete. I also want to preface that what’s stated in this article is simply what I believe and think following this news. I can’t say I speak for all transgender women or all transgender people either. However, I can’t sit here and allow people to be shoved to the side, disregarded, and frankly discriminated against. 

When I first heard the news of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ decision that transgender women or female gender identifying individuals weren’t allowed to compete in Women’s sports, I had heard it near the same time as Caitlin Clark, Iowa’s women’s basketball team, and women’s sports in general was having a surge in popularity. Something about that just rubbed me the wrong way. Right as Women’s sports were being appreciated and shown mass amounts of adoration, transgender women were told they could no longer participate in that community of love and support. 

It all goes back to the same arguments of, “It’s unfair to the players,” or “Transgender women have an unfair advantage.” While this claim has not shown any actual merit, it is also disingenuous and sexist towards women. This idea that women are somehow inferior or can’t play sports with men only serves to disempower women’s sports. I can say personally that as a transgender woman I don’t feel as though I have any actual advantage over other women physically, especially women like Caitlin Clark who have essentially been practicing their whole lives to play basketball. Not only that, but this kind of “problem” seeks only to discriminate and demonize transgender women as people simply trying to trick or one-up competition. 

If there’s still any doubt about all of this, Dawn Staley, the coach of South Carolina, the team that was crowned national champions for Women’s basketball was asked about the matter and she replied that, “If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play.” There shouldn’t be anything limiting people from playing the sport they want to play, and living in the gender they identify as. If anything we’ve already seen how powerful the story of someone who wants nothing more than to play the sport can be when we look at Caitlin Clark. 

Brent Clark, Caitlin Clark’s father, talks about how when she was young, it was impossible to find an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) girl’s league for her, so they decided to have her join a boy’s league. If a woman can show that she’s able and capable to play alongside other men, there is no precedent or understanding to support the idea that we shouldn’t allow transgender women to be on the team helps that affirm their identity,

Esther Windt is an editor for HC @SAU. Beyond HC, Esther is involved in campus. She is a part of the board for Theatre Appreciation Club as well as the editorial team for the Quercus literary magazine. She is also involved in theatre productions put on by SAU theatre. She also works as a writing tutor with the Student Success Center on campus. She is majoring (Creative Writing Concentration) and Theology. In her free time, she likes to go on runs, writes frequently, as well as watch TV and drinks lots of coffee. A fun fact about Esther is she's never broken a bone