Progress for transgender athletes

More than half a dozen states, from Washington to Massachusetts, have adopted rules to allow transgender students to compete on teams that correspond with their gender identities rather than the sex listed on their school records. Half a dozen more states are considering similar regulations, reports todays’s New York Times. “And a bill in the Legislature would make California the first to specifically guarantee by law that transgender students are allowed to play school sports.images-5

“Transgender students deserve equal access to everything in public education, including sports,” said Tom Ammiano, the state assemblyman sponsoring the bill. “You can’t discriminate just because you’re uncomfortable with a young man transitioning to become a young woman.”

“The push to include transgender students in school sports reflects the rapidly growing visibility of transgender people in all walks of society — like Fallon Fox, the mixed-martial artist who was born a man but fights women, and Chaz Bono, the child of Sonny Bono and Cher, who has transitioned from female to male — as well as shifting ideas about how to define gender.

“But state regulators now face the difficult challenge maintaining competitive fairness: What if a 6-foot-6 student who is biologically male identified as female and wanted to play on the girls’ basketball team?

“That student would have a dramatically unfair advantage because of his anatomical sex,” said Andrew Beckwith, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative group that has also opposed gay marriage and abortion.

“And then after the game, he can go to the girls’ locker room and shower alongside all the girls.”

“While transgender students would be allowed to use the locker rooms along with their teammates under the Massachusetts guideline — a thorny issue that has sparked its own debates — state education officials noted that transgender students have often used gender neutral bathrooms at school.

“The International Olympic Committee initially required transgender athletes who want to compete in the Olympics to undergo a full sex-change operation and hormone therapy. The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires male-to-female transgender athletes to complete a year of hormone therapy before they may compete on a women’s team.”

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