Trans athlete exclusion creates stigma

Milo smiles for a headshot.

Kara Hopkins|Marlin Chronicle 

As a transgender man, I feel unqualified to discuss whether or how transgender women should participate in intercollegiate sports. 

Like many other trans people, I find this topic frustrating to hear, especially when it’s brought up simply to demonize transgender women. I believe I do not have all the answers to these questions, and I do not intend to argue otherwise. However, I can summarize the different points of view surrounding this topic to shed some light on why individuals think one way or another. 

The topic of transgender individuals has been widely overblown to create a hot topic for politicians to profit from. The creation of this wedge issue allows for politicians to gain issue voters, or individuals who will vote for someone simply because they feel the same way about a specific issue.

If you look at Governor Glenn Youngkin’s policies regarding transgender people, you can make an argument that he doesn’t care about transgender people, he just uses it as a wedge issue. He has many anti-trans policies that ostracize transgender youths in schools, as well as denying them healthcare access.

Transgender women are often the targets of these topics, despite there being many transgender men wanting to participate in men’s sports. However, trans men don’t threaten cisgender men the way that transgender women do.

Should it not be questioned more often, why do cis men fear trans women? Cisgender men fear the few individuals who do pretend to be trans women for personal gain. This situation is rare, and should not be used to make generalizations about trans women in sports. However, in this situation, men simply fear other men, which is quite concerning. 

Many preach that female athletes must be protected from “biological men.” They claim they protect cisgender female athletes by excluding transgender women they call “biological men,” when in reality they are just excluding other women. Additionally, this notion of thinking women need to be protected is rooted in patriarchal beliefs about the ownership of girls, which contributes to the infantilization of cis women and the adultification of transgender women.

Plenty of trans women in sports are transitioning medically, but that should not be a factor of the value of them as a woman, as transition hormones or surgeries are not desired by all trans individuals. By viewing trans women as masculine, cis women athletes who are more masculine are affected. 

In the topic of transgender women, people view their natural advantage as being larger, stronger, faster and having higher levels of testosterone.

However, cisgender individuals also have natural advantages sometimes. A woman with extremely large lungs has a natural advantage over other swimmers or runners with average sized lungs. 

Women who are taller could also have natural advantages in sports like basketball. Some cis women are even born with high levels of testosterone. Why is the line only drawn for trans women, even when unfairness occurs frequently in sports? 

There are potential solutions to this unfairness caused by natural advantages trans women may have. One solution involves testing and managing hormone levels. This concept revolves around the idea that transitioning via hormones or surgery can lessen the levels of testosterone in trans women. 

By frequently testing and adjusting these levels, trans women can have similar testosterone levels to that of cis women. However, I’d argue that this isn’t entirely ethical. 

Not all trans women want to transition medically, and creating a system that benefits trans women who do transition will create more issues around the validity of trans people. 

Additionally, studies on hormone management have shown that performance levels in trans and cis women can still have a disparity, as hormones can’t erase some pubescent changes in height and body fat that occur due to testosterone levels. 

Other solutions are related to the way sports are managed. Some argue that erasing the binary separation of sports is the future. If this is done, sports could potentially be separated similarly to weightlifting, where individuals are put into weight classes; some people think that the classes could be separated by weight, height, hormone levels or other specifiers, although the logistics of this are under-researched. 

Refusing to allow trans women to participate in women’s sports, creates a stigma about transgender women and generalizes trans women in sports as non-transitioned and masculine. 

Milo Schuehle is a first-year majoring in Psychology and GWSS. He enjoys rollerblading around campus, singing and cleaning. Milo can be contacted at

By Milo Schuehle