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10 transgender athletes explain why it’s fair to compete

Tijen Butler April 4, 2019
Transgender athletes

Transgender athletes

We have listed 10 transgender athletes who compete in sports.

From trans men to trans women, these athletes are those in the middle of debates about whether it’s fair for transgender people to compete in sports.

Ever since the Olympics allowed trans people to compete, the subject of transgender athletes is often argued.

Below we list 10 trans athletes along with what they have said about the transgender debate in sports.

Transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon

Rachel McKinnon, a transgender, record-breaking cyclist
Rachel McKinnon is a transgender, record-breaking cyclist (rachel v mckinnon/facebook)

Rachel McKinnon is a Canadian world champion trans cyclist. She decided to voice her thoughts regarding whether it’s fair for trans women to compete in elite sports against cis women after British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe argued it should be “protected” for “females.”

“The rights of trans athletes shouldn’t hang on what any individual says or does,” McKinnon told PinkNews. “Rights don’t work like that.”

“Paula continues to ignore facts: trans women are legally female [and] trans women have been permitted to compete in Olympic-eligible sports since October 2003.

“In the Olympic Games, since 2004, there have been over 52,000 Olympians and not a single trans person has ever qualified, let alone won a medal.

“The very idea that we must ‘protect’ cis women’s—or ‘female’—sport from trans women, who are legally female, too, is an irrational fear of trans women, which is the dictionary definition of transphobia.”

Transgender triathlete Chris Mosier

Chris Mosier presents the Sport for Equality Award during the Beyond Sport Global Awards on July 26, 2017 in New York City.
Chris Mosier presents the Sport for Equality Award during the Beyond Sport Global Awards on July 26, 2017 in New York City. (Roy Rochlin/Getty)

Chris Mosier is the first transgender athlete to make a US national men’s team, the first to be sponsored by Nike and also the first to be in an ESPN Body Issue.

The trans advocate is also the founder of TransAthlete.com, a site aimed to increase awareness about transgender athletes and to help sportspeople of all levels.

Mosier wrote an op-ed about trans youth in sports for Out in January.

He explained: “The reality is that transgender girls are girls and transgender boys are boys. There is a fear that somehow allowing girls who are transgender to compete with other girls will give them a competitive advantage but this completely misunderstands the facts and is based on false stereotypes.

“High school athletes come in all shapes, sizes, and skill and ability levels, and it’s unfair for us to police bodies and make determinations of who should be able to compete in sports, particularly when we know there are so many physical, mental, social, and psychological benefits associated with young people participating in these activities.”

He continued, “Barring trans people from participation hurts everyone. Young people start to think that there is no place for them in athletics and they drop out, even when it is the one place where they may find belonging and hope.”

Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey

Hannah Mouncey of Darebin (R) in action during the round 14 VFLW match between Darebin and the Southern Saints at Bill Lawry Oval on August 11, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.
Hannah Mouncey of Darebin (R) in action during the round 14 VFLW match between Darebin and the Southern Saints at Bill Lawry Oval on August 11, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty)

Australian trans footballer Hannah Mouncey, who has faced transphobia and death threats for seeking to play in a women’s team, took to Twitter to explain why trans women should be able to compete in female sports without discrimination.

Along with two screenshots with information about the “first-ever study of transgender athletes,” Mouncey wrote: “I know it won’t stop the questions, BUT, for all those who keep asking this is the most concise, to the point explanation you will get anywhere.”

The study explains that hormone therapy for male-to-female transition suppresses testosterone and decreases muscle mass and bone density.

The explanation concluded with the line, “Educate yourselves.”

But just as the trans athlete had suspected, her post did not stop the questions. One Twitter user had responded with, “Your muscle mass is still visibly at least double theirs. Don’t you think that gives you an unfair advantage?”

Mouncey responded by blocking the user.

Transgender swimmer Schuyler Bailar


Transgender man Schuyler Bailar, who swims for Harvard University, is the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer.

He is very open about his transition and uses his Instagram to share inspiring photos.

Originally recruited to play on the women’s team, Bailar now swims with the men’s team since transitioning.

“I mean me as a trans athlete who’s healthy, who’s happy, who’s out there, who’s succeeding, who’s doing what he loves, who gets to be who he is — I want kids to see that,” Bailar told NBC News.

He continued: “People worry that I’m doping because I take testosterone — that I have this steroidal advantage over other athletes, which is not the case.”

“I really just want to be visible so people know this is possible, that I exist — not ‘I’ as in Schuyler but ‘I’ as in a trans athlete,” Bailar concluded.

Transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox

Trans athlete Fallon Fox
(Facebook/fallon fox)

Fallon Fox, who is now retired, was the first openly transgender athlete in MMA history.

In 2014, MMA champion Ronda Rousey refused to fight the trans athlete due to her “unfair advantage.”

Rousey explained: “I feel like if you go through puberty as a man it’s something that you can’t really reverse. You can’t just reverse that, there’s no undo button on that. That’s, unfortunately, her scenario.”

Fox responded on Facebook saying: “I really wish Ronda would stop with the ridiculous bone structure arguments.

“That was so last year. Second, she should tell her boss to put me in that octagon over there at UFC.

“I’m quite sure that there are quite a few female MMA fighters who have guts to fight another skilled woman without peeing their panties.”

Transgender boxer Patricio Manuel

Transgender boxer Pat Manuel makes history with professional win
Pat Manuel (Instagram)

Pat Manuel made history in 2018 when he became the first transgender man to professionally box in the US.

What’s more, Manuel also won the fight. Speaking about his victory, he said: “It’s a funny thing when just living your truth becomes historic.”

He continued: “I just have to say my opponent, hats off to him. He came to fight. He was fighting me the whole time. He fought me as a man, and I have so much respect for him.”

Speaking in a YouTube 60-second documentary the year before, Manuel spoke about boxing as a trans man.

“I don’t feel that it’s easier boxing as a woman than boxing as a man. My body’s changed and I also was fighting at such an elite level against female athletes that it wasn’t easy. I was on track to go into the first Olympics’ women’s boxing trials,” said Manuel.

“I originally started boxing as a female athlete as a way to cope with the gender dysphoria I was feeling. It was actually boxing that kept me from transitioning because I didn’t know if I would be able to continue competing if I decided to medically transition.

“Once I lost the Olympic boxing trials and didn’t have boxing as a distraction, it made me really examine what I wanted as a person, not just as an athlete.”

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women’s +90kg Final during the Weightlifting on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Scott Barbour/Getty)

Laurel Hubbard’s eligibility in the Commonwealth Games had been heavily under scrutiny. Many people had spoken out against the New Zealand weightlifter’s right to compete against other women.

Regardless of this, Hubbard passed all requirements to compete in the games.

A spokesperson said: “Laurel Hubbard has been given the opportunity to represent her country because it was cleared by the Weightlifting Federation, also the Commonwealth Games Association, that she has abided the rules and New Zealand has abided the rules, and her testosterone levels are correct.”

“Not everyone supports me or accepts me but there are people who do,” Hubbard added.

“To anyone who questions my involvement, I would say I didn’t win [at the World Championships]. If people think I have an overwhelming advantage, I think they should look at it in that light.”

Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs

Transgender athlete Mack Beggs

Mack Beggs is a young transgender man who won the Texas girls high school state wrestling championship in 2017 and 2018.

Beggs had been forced to wrestle girls instead of boys due to Texas law. This is one of nine US states that requires athletes to compete in the gender division matching their birth certificates rather than personal identification.

During games, Beggs would get booed as they believed it was unfair that he’d compete against girls.

“I still get upset about it sometimes,” Beggs told the Daily Dot. “Yeah, I won two state titles. But I identify as a dude. I couldn’t do anything about it. Technically, I did win but I didn’t win. It’s a f****d situation.”

But now, in 2019, his birth certificate finally affirms his gender as “male,” according to a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

This means he is able to compete on the men’s wrestling teams in college.

Transgender footballer Blair Hamilton

Transgender football player Blair Hamilton
Transgender football player Blair Hamilton started hormone therapy three years ago. (Stonehaven Ladies football club/Facebook)

Trans athlete Blair Hamilton plays football for the Scottish team Stonehaven Ladies FC.

The footballer, who started hormone therapy three years ago, said that she has experienced “no advantage” as a result of her transitioning from male.

“It does take away your muscle mass, your explosiveness. Your ratios from type-one to type-two fast-twitch fibres change – your body completely changes. I don’t think they realise how much of a change hormone therapy makes,” Hamilton explained to the BBC.

Transgender basketball player Kye Allums

 Kye Allums attends "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word"
Kye Allums attends “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word” Logo TV Premiere Party & Screening at Paramount Screening Room at the Viacom Building on October 16, 2014 in New York City. (Brad Barket/Getty)

Kye Allums is the first openly transgender NCAA athlete to play Division I sports.

He came out in 2010 while he was playing on the girls’ basketball team at George Washington University.

TIME interviewed the athlete and asked him: “The main point of angst when it comes to transgender athletes is often this notion of the unfair advantage a transgender woman might have, as if a 10-foot player might suddenly be on the girls’ team.”

Allums replied: “People talk about that as if men are super-human, as if just because you were born with a penis, that means that you can defeat every single female. And that’s not true. This world values men. We value men. We value male bodies. We don’t value women … People need to stop placing limits on how strong people can or should be, and what their bodies should look like.”

Later, when asked about testosterone, Allums said: “I’ve been taking testosterone for three and a half years. I am a little bit bigger. But just because I now have more body mass is not going to give me an advantage that I couldn’t get without practicing or without training.”

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