Earlier this year, comments made by tennis great and Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova were widely criticized. The tennis champion—who came out as gay in 1981—claimed that it was “insane” and “cheating” to have transgender athletes competing against other players.
Her reasoning behind for this argument was that anyone can supposedly decide to change their gender, undergo certain procedures, and take the required hormones. She claimed that these people could earn a fortune playing a sport, only to quit and re-transition.
The worst part about these comments is that this narrative is not an anomaly.
Over the last few decades, trans individuals have dealt with tremendous setbacks. Erasure, invisibility, and active discrimination are omnipresent, even though every experience of transness is different.
The world of sports is no stranger to transphobia. Every year, there are heated debates over transgender individuals competing in mainstream tournaments. The Olympics, for instance, didn’t allow transgender athletes to compete in the Games until 2004.
The latest development came in 2015 when the guidelines changed to allow trans men to participate in sports. Trans women, however, have to prove that their testosterone levels were below a certain level a year prior to the competition.
In recent years, incidents of transphobia in the world of sports have revealed just how much more needs to change for there to be a semblance of equality.
This student athlete from Connecticut faced rampant backlash after she began competing in the girls track team. The reason for the uproar and the international media attention was the fact that she was transgender.
Her critics included coaches, other students, and their parents. They claim that Andraya has a biological advantage over her competitors, stating that this is unfair to the other girls in the team. This 17-year-old, however, realizes that she has every right to compete, using the comments of her detractors to fuel her passion even further.
Transphobia isn’t limited to age, race, or geographical location. New Zealand weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, has competed in several championships, including the Commonwealth Games and World Masters Games.
She regularly faces backlash and has been on the receiving end of cruel transphobic demands that it’s unfair for her to compete with women. A serious contender at the international and national level, Hubbard has powered through and continues to excel.
The experiences of Andraya Yearwood and Laurel Hubbard are similar to those of many people in the transgender community. Active discrimination and erasure leave them in poverty, facing harassment—often getting violent, resulting in 26 deaths in 2018 alone—and without much legal protection for their rights.
If you are in need of services, Trans Central Station is here to help you. Always remember that help is closer than you think.
Our local transgender directory has a wide range of LGBTQ+-friendly resources you can make use of. Whether you’re seeking health or counseling services, or looking for legal and spiritual support, we have a lot to offer!
Contact our team and get in touch today.