Recently, I was flying back to Canberra from Melbourne and I shared the plane with a women's university rugby league team. Each one of the players was about a head taller than me and weighed at least twice as much. If I, a transgender woman, was ever foolish enough to take the field against this group of cis women, my limbs and head would be at risk of injury. Which is my way of saying that women's bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
A couple of months ago, the issue of transgender women and sport was weaponised by the then Coalition government in its election campaign and didn't seem to get a lot of traction in the wider electorate.
In fact, it may have even contributed to the loss of some of the inner urban electorates to the teal independents.
This issue has been reignited again by the recent decision of FINA to ban transgender women from elite women's competitions and the International Rugby League has now also banned transgender women from all matches.
It seems that other sporting bodies may also review their polices regarding gender inclusion.
But when we talk about transgender participation in sport, 99.995 per cent of the time, we are talking about participation, not about excelling and winning medals. If someone has been a keen community cricket player all their life and now wants to continue playing in the women's team after she transitions in her fifties, what's the harm in that?
Everybody can imagine how hurtful it would be if an Aboriginal or Indian child was told they can't join the school choir or if a child with disabilities was told they can't go on a school excursion with all the other kids. Why does anyone think that kind of hurt would be any different for a transgender kid?
And for kids, the question of a physical advantage is almost irrelevant. Before puberty, there's really no difference in physicality between girls and boys. Once someone transitions when they hit puberty or shortly after, the use of puberty blockers and sex hormones would mean their physique would be very similar to that of their cisgender peers.
Some of us who are a bit older would remember the female athletes from the old Communist Bloc countries who were doped up with anabolic steroids and went on to break sporting records everywhere.
In the public's minds, there is the spectre of elite male athletes changing their gender to gain an unfair advantage on cisgender women athletes. But let's unpack that a little bit.
Winning at elite sport has a huge mental component and for elite male athletes, a lot of it is about the assertion of masculinity. Look at the way Djokovic roars when he hits a winning shot or the way that Messi celebrates when he hits a goal. Does anyone seriously think an elite male athlete would sacrifice their masculinity to win a medal? Alex De Minaur is Australia's number one tennis player. Although he is probably as quick and has as sharp a competitive instinct as Lleyton Hewitt, Alex will never get to number one in tennis because he is just not as big and strong as the top players today. Just think of the opprobrium and ridicule that Alex would attract if he was to transition so he could beat Iga Swiatek and become number one in women's tennis. Laughable, right?
Athletes are at their elite peak for a very small number of years.
Any gender transition at the peak of one's athletic prowess would take away most of those peak years with the need to transition physically and psychologically and the need to satisfy the requirements of elite sporting competitions.
AFL already has an inclusion policy for AFLW and their elite pathway where they look at hormone levels and do performance testing to guide decisions on an individual basis and that could be a template for other sporting codes.
And finally, that old chestnut about men pretending to be transgender to gain access to female locker rooms and toilets to sexually assault women.
Despite the amount of hysteria about this, I've yet to hear about a single documented case of this happening.
And let's unpack the psychology of this again. Male sexual assault is usually about the assertion of male power and the validation of a kind of toxic masculinity. How can pretending to be a woman feed into the psychology of male power and toxic masculinity?
Finally, the recent decisions about the participation of transgender women in sport betray an assumption about the binary nature of human biology.
Our human biology doesn't fall into neat binary categories and examples of these would be people who are intersex or have complete or partial androgen insensitivity syndrome.
Like a lot of transphobia, the proponents of transgender exclusion from women's sport actually betray a lot of anxiety and fear, and by lashing out they are actually causing a lot of hurt and pain.
And I can tell you that every time something like this is used against the transgender community, there will be vulnerable people out there who are hurt and damaged.
Please consider that transgender people are human beings too and we are only seeking what everyone else can take for granted; the ability to live our lives as we feel ourselves to be.
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