Post # 1
So while watching football this weekend, DH and I saw a commercial for an ESPN 30 on 30 special on tennis player, Renée Richards.
Renée Richards is a transexual who underwent sex reassignment surgery and went on to play professional tennis as a woman (she was initially banned unless she underwent a chromosomal analysis but the NY Supreme Court over-ruled it and allowed her to play).
This all got me thinking about if I agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision. Even though she had undergone sex reassignment surgery and lived her life as a woman, genetically/hormonally/body compositionally, Richards was still male. In the world of professional sports, that could be seen as giving her an unfair advantage. In some ways, I could see it as being similar to athletes who take illegal steroids – something they do by choice that gives them an advantage over those they compete against.
I take no issue with transexuals living life as they feel they best fit. But should a line be drawn in professional sports? I’m still somewhat undecided on how I see it. What do you think?
ETA: I tried to be accurate in the terminology of sex versus gender. Please forgive any terms I swapped while typing this up.
Post # 3
This is really interesting. I mean, what constitutes an “unfair advantage”? I feel like, she probably has as much testosterone as the next woman, maybe even less because of the hormones and stuff that she’s had to take
Post # 4
I think if you used to be a man and have built up muscle and strength as a man, you do have an edge over athletes who were born a woman. And I think they had more testosterone than regular women and have to keep up getting shots and stuff.
I dont know the science behind it, but I do know that watching next top model the other day there is a transsexual called Isis and she was able to support her body using her upper arm strength without looking like she was struggling at all, which would be suprising for a woman her size but then it got me thinking that perhaps her upper arm strength is greater than the average woman her size because she used to be a man.
Post # 5
If she fully transitioned to female there’s no question to me she should be allowed to play as one. If she hadn’t finished her transition yet there’s more of a grey area, but this is pretty black and white to me.
Post # 6
She should play as a female. She will be losing that “maleness” to her because of hormones being taken to become a woman – if that makes sense.
Post # 7
I’d like to know the reasons the supreme court allowed her to play. Is there a consitutional violation if she were to be forced to undergo that evaluation? If there a fundamental violation of rights to prohibit her from playing tennis? My guess is something about rights is being impacted and that trumps some “unfair advantage” in terms of sports.
Post # 8
I find these questions interesting, but I don’t know enough about it to have a strong opinion either way.
Post # 9
I’m not really sure what I think. I see both sides, and it’s an interesting issue. Some females who are born female also happen to have a higher level of testosterone naturally, and they wouldn’t be prohibited from playing professionally because they are genetically female. So, I guess I don’t view this situation as any different, especially because with the hormone therapy transsexuals undergo as part of their surgery, I think a lot of the “advantage” or distinction between them and other teammembers would be largely gone.
Maybe they would have to undergo blood tests to make sure the hormone therapy was working and that their levels were in the normal range for their chosen gender?
Post # 10
@piglet_625: I agree. I could definitely argue both sides of the issue on this one.
@vmec: I haven’t been able to find much about the explicit reasons or thoughts behind the NY Supreme Court’s decision unfortunately. It would be interesting to know though.
Post # 11
Men naturally have more upper body strength which could be of an advantage in tennis. The fact that a transexual may have higher levels of estrogen would not effect muscle composition!
Post # 12
I selected that I’m not sure what to think. In theory I think you would have a physical advantage if you were born male. However… I’m a big tennis fan and I have never heard of this woman so it obviously didn’t giver her much of an advantage since she wasn’t winning grand slams!
Post # 13
@Moose1209: She was a pro from 1977 to 1981 (so a decent while ago). She never won any grand slams or anything but she was ranked as high as #20 in the world.
Post # 14
There was a big deal recently with an olympic runner similar to this, though she was gentically xxy, always lived as a female but very apparently had some male physical characteristics in relation to her muslce composition. Caster Semeny was her name, and I don’t know whatever came of that.
I do believe there is some serious issues to deal with in sports, in high school actually, I played a girl who was formerly male, still had xy chromosomes but was begining the process of going from male to female and it sucked. I’ve played big strong girls before but this was nothing like a big strong girl. This was a 18 year old boy taking estrogen to become a female yes, but she was built like a athetic 18 year old boy which is way different than an 18 year old girl.
While I am all about gender equaility, physiologically there are some serious differences in those who go through pubuerty as a male and those who go through it as a female. Height, weight distrubution, muscle to fat ratios, muscle composition and locations are all different and I think when those things can offer a serious advantage, it can be an issue but what the resolution to that issue is, I don’t know.
Post # 15
@chasesgirl: Yeah – this whole thing made me think of Caster Semeny too (although it is a different situation that lead to similar controversey). From what I can find, the results of Caster Semeny’s testing were not released due to privacy reasons but she has been cleared to return to international competitions.