What’s Fair is Fair?: Transgender Athletes

In our society we seem to have this idea that justice is an easy thing to find. That once we have it in our minds to treat people fairly that our motivation to do so will guide us towards the right decisions. If that were the case then we may not have so much disagreement on moral issue of right and wrong.  This week there were a few local reports on Nattaphon Wangyot, the transgender female athlete that made it to the state finals and stirred protestors to stand  in opposition.

The argument was that biological males have an absolute advantage over biological females in sport. Let’s be clear they were not arguing the morality of bathroom rights or access to health services. They were simply stating that because a person born biological male will have physical advantage of a person born biological female it is unethical to allow them to compete against each other.

This is not the first story of this nature. Last year transgender MMA fighter Fox Fallon was brought under criticism for injuring a female fighter in the ring. It is worth posing the question. Is it possible that an attempt to create fairness for transgender athletes Alaska’s, Haines High School has inadvertently created unfairness for the biological female athletes on their team?

Conversations around this issue tend to be sensitive, but we must be willing to examine these issues even if we feel that we are right within our heart. Morality is not simply a matter of taste, but is a logical process that we engage in to determine the best policy and courses of action to achieve all that we see as good.

On the other side of the argument is the position that any  transgender athlete should be able to live full lives and experience anything cis gender people would have access to this includes not having to change their gender identification for a sport.

We have the clashing of two principles of fairness here. On one hand we have the freedom to exist and pursue happiness in a quest for fulfillment. On the other hand we have that same quest potentially hampered by an biological advantage.

In consideration of these two issues we must identify the function of sport. Is it to measure the abilities of athletes to award a winner? Or is it to challenge athletes to push against the boundaries of what they are capable of as individuals and what we believe the human body to be capable of ?

The implications of these decisions create precedents that will have unforeseen consequences in the lives of all parties involved for generations to come. We can not simply try to forecast the results and try to gauge the decision from its effects. We must come up with a choice based on a simple paradigm.

Do we value the ability for all members of our society to life holistic lives in the gender they most identify or are we willing to sacrifice that to create space for female athletes to have a biologically even playing field?

No one can make this decision for the individuals reading this but each of the members of the sports authority in the 30 states that do allow trans gender athletes to compete in the gender they identify have had to grapple with this question personally.

Which is more fair to you?


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