Chris Hannah

Transgender Athletes and the Teams They Play On


I came across a story on twitter regarding a transgender woman playing in a women’s basketball team There were various photos showing her stature alongside the rest of her teammates. Because there’s no hiding it, she’s clearly got a huge build compared to everyone else on her team, and noticeably stronger.

While some of the replies I saw focussed on the fact she’s transgender so she shouldn’t play on the women’s team, maybe there should be a trans competition, or some were putting the blame on women in general saying things like “Women supported this, now they must face the consequences”.

I don’t want to get into any of that, because I’m not a women of any kind, so I can’t speak on behalf of one.

But I do think it raises some questions, that as a society I don’t think have been truly answered.

The discussion seems to be only skin-deep at the moment, with one side saying “she’s a woman and therefore she should play in the woman’s team”, and the other saying “but she’s only a transgender woman, she’s really a man and should plan on the men’s team”. This type of discussion doesn’t do anyone any good, and tends to end up in arguments.

What I think we need to think about is the reason why some sports have separate teams for men and women.

The obvious answer is because of the clear biological differences between the male and female sex. Men are typically taller, stronger, and quicker than women, so in most cases it would be unfair to compete against one another.

Obviously that doesn’t mean men are always bigger and stronger than women, and some women train to become much stronger than most men, but it’s clear that there is a massive biological advantage for men in many regards.

So instead of arguing what gender people are, and what team they should play on. Society needs to decide whether competitions are split on biological sex or by gender. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I personally think by doing it on sex is the fairest option.

But not everyone will agree. And it also doesn’t fix the problems transgender people have. Because for all the people that complain on Twitter about a transgender woman being on a women’s team, I can imagine there would be a similar reaction if she was playing on the men’s team.

I would like to add that I know this can be a sensitive subject for some, so if I’ve used them wrong term anywhere, please know that it was not to offend or cause controversy. This is just me thinking out loud.