In the past months, associations in sports such as athletics, swimming or cycling have communicated new guidelines on the inclusion of transgender athletes. One of these associations, the British Triathlon Federation, has announced that it will create an “open” category for transgender athletes to compete in. Consequently, the female category would be reserved for females who were female sex at birth and the open category would encompass all male, transgender, and non-binary athletes who were male sex at birth.
The subject is particularly sensitive in women sports, where, in some cases, transgender women have been allowed to compete in the female category if they medically suppressed testosterone levels in their bodies. However, some scientists maintain that athletes who are male sex at birth are likely to possess a physical advantage, nevertheless.
The announcements have triggered controversial debates between two groups with opposing views. On the one hand, people who believe that athletes should compete based on their sex see the fairness and integrity of women sports in danger if transgender athletes are allowed to participate. On the other hand, people who oppose the new set of guidelines emphasize their discriminatory nature, question their necessity, and fear that they could encourage transphobia.
Irrespective of how different sports choose to include transgender women: Sports organizations cannot avoid sensitive societal debates. Indeed, often they find themselves at their forefronts.
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