Transgender Athletes and the Future of Women’s Sport

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Transgender-Women-Sport.pngAustralia’s most prominent transgender woman, Catherine McGregor, made her first grade women’s cricket debut, prompting questions about the future of women’s sports. Formerly Malcolm McGregor, she underwent a gender transition in 2012 while serving in the military.

At only 70kg and 60 years of age, McGregor’s physical attributes – and how they might affect her relative performance on the pitch – may not raise many eyebrows. However more extreme examples may emerge. As Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton put it

“What happens when a 100 kilogram 20-year-old man identifying as a woman wants to seek selection for the women’s Big Bash League? Or the Australian netball team?”

“Children are being shown posters at school of boys wearing girls’ school uniforms as part of ‘Safe Schools’. Why can’t these transgender ‘girls’ compete with the girls’ in their sporting teams?”

McGregor argues that due to her age, “any physical advantages I may have had as a born male are offset by my age and the changes to my body”, and that she should be able to play in her “affirmed gender”.

However, this isn’t just about individual cases: it is about the precedent it sets for the inclusion of biological males in female sports, which requires us to consider whether male “physical advantages” have an effect in competition. A more extreme example is the transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who fights as a woman. Tamikka Brents, a fighter who opposed Fox in the ring, said:

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor. I can only say I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female.”

Shelton said that issues of gender identity needed the “love and support” of the community, but nevertheless:

“…this should not mean up-ending biological concepts of sex and gender, particularly when there are harmful consequences of altering one’s body.

“Parents and more female athletes need to be consulted before the Australian community is led any further down the path of enforced gender theory.”

Australians must have the conversation about the implications of gender ideology on all spheres of life. At the very least, we must come face-to-face with the fact that shifting views on gender affect people other than those directly involved – this includes, but is not limited to, competitors of transgender individuals in every sport.

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