Hard Questions at the Holidays – Trans kids playing sports

This December, we’re talking about #HardQuestionsAtTheHolidays. The holidays can be hard for LGBTQ+ folks and their families since extended family might be confused or unsupportive. We’re looking at questions folks might ask and how you can answer them.

Today’s question: “Do trans girls really belong on girls’ sports teams? Won’t they have an unfair advantage?” Our answer: trans girls are girls, and excluding them from sports hurts them without helping anyone.

Lia Thomas

First, there just aren’t that many trans athletes. Some of these states seeking to ban trans girls from competing have just a single trans girl participating in sports in the entire state!

16 states, including MA, have athletics policies that are inclusive of trans athletes, as does the NCAA (since 2011!). Including trans athletes hasn’t caused a disruption in any of these contexts.

Trans athletes aren’t inherently better or stronger than their cis peers. Testosterone isn’t a magic bullet – just look at how many cis men there are who aren’t sports stars! And trans women who medically transition often have hormone profiles similar to cis women.

Many athletes have some sort of “physical advantage” – just consider Michael Phelps, who makes less lactic acid than the rest of us, which lets him swim faster for longer without as much muscle fatigue. That’s cool, not a problem he should be punished for.

Michael Phelps

Trans girls benefit from being allowed to play sports – they’re a great way to form social bonds, improve fitness, and build self-confidence. Cis girls benefit from trans inclusion as well! 

Excluding trans girls means cis girls who are “too tall”, “too strong”, “too good” at their sport (and often not feminine enough and not white) get questioned and even subjected to humiliating and invasive examinations to prove that they’re “really girls” – a situation that benefits nobody!

Learn more about trans athletics from GLSEN https://www.glsen.org/activity/gender-affirming-inclusive-athletics-participation and the ACLU https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbtq-rights/four-myths-about-trans-athletes-debunked