Trans Athletes Are Able to Compete

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In 1946 the Basketball Association of America was founded, but in 1949 it changed its name to what it is today: The National Basketball Association. But it wasn’t until 50 years after men’s competitive basketball started, that the Women’s National Basketball Association was founded. Years later, American lawmakers are fighting to see if the women of the WNBA refers to sex or to gender.

The Republican Party has passed laws of that ban transgender women from participating in their respective sports. Last year, the Ohio GOP passed a harsh ban that even allowed an inspection for suspected trans athletes. While there was still effort to get the law passed by the GOP, it appears to be dead in the water.

Earlier this year, the Utah GOP passed a law that banned transgender athletes from participating in any sporting events. The justification the bill gave is that being trans “gives the student a material competitive advantage when compared to students of the same age.” 

While these bans in theory targeted all trans people, in application they are only used to stop trans women from participating. This stems from the fact that on average, a biological male is stronger than a biological female, so the belief is that a transgender women is seen to be invading a female space for easier competition.

This has been a harmful stereotype for trans women since the 90s. The biggest problem with this idea is that there are already regulations against it in sports. 

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Two weeks ago, Utah State Judge Keith Kelly repealed the ban. Utah now requires transgender women to go in front of a state commission to determine whether or not they are allowed to participate in female sports. 

Here in Colorado, both secondary school and collegiate sports programs have policies outlining transgender participation in sports. The Colorado Highschool Activities Association requires that the athlete’s school “perform a confidential evaluation to determine the gender assignment for the prospective student-athlete.” Therefore highschools review the participation of transgender athletes on a case by case basis. 

The National Collegiate Athletics Association, which the University of Northern Colorado is a member of, states that “transgender student-athletes will need documented levels at the beginning of their season and a second documentation six months after the first. They will also need documented testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.”

Non-invasive documentation of hormonal replacement theory has become the standard practice for transgender inclusion in sports, and evidence has shown that this is an adequate practice. 

In an interview with NPR, Johanna Harper said that “In most sports, after hormone therapy, it is perfectly reasonable to allow trans women to compete against cisgender women.” Harper is a Ph.D. Researcher at Loughborough University. 

Her research has shown that hormone replacement therapy lowers a biological male’s performance within nine months. That being said, her research was focused on race teams, so the possible variations of performance in different sports is currently unknown.

UNC has the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, a safe place for anybody to go if they are in need. It has multiple study areas, a kitchen and a gender inclusive bathroom with a shower. It’s located at 2215 10th Avenue, or can be contacted at 970-351-0191.

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