All Your Questions About Trans Kids in Sports, Asked and Answered
When I was a kid, sports were the place where I found my friends and my community, as well as my confidence and sense of self. I loved sports because they allowed me to challenge myself, but mostly because playing them was when I could hang out with my buddies and just have fun.
Now, as an adult athlete and transgender man on Team USA, it’s been heartbreaking for me to see how trans kids in sports have become the target of legislators across our country. The idea of including trans and nonbinary people in sports has been positioned as “political” when in fact it is not.
Sifting through all of the information presented as a “debate” on social media can be overwhelming, and every day I speak with parents, coaches, and sports fans who have questions about transgender athletes and specifically trans kids in sports. That’s why I’m here to answer your questions in a judgment-free zone.
All young people should have the opportunity to play the sports that they love and not have to compromise any part of themselves. That’s why I work every single day to ensure that every young person—no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression—can experience the lifesaving power of sports.
Do trans kids have inherent, unfair advantages in sports?
No. Transgender kids, like all kids, vary in athletic ability, size, strength, and speed. There are a lot of factors that go into determining if someone will be a good athlete, including coaching, access to camps and skill development, proper nutrition and rest, high-quality equipment, mental toughness and resilience, and support and encouragement from family, as well as basic capabilities like agility and coordination. In his 2020 expert testimony about transgender athletes, Joshua D. Safer, MD, a staff physician in the endocrinology division of the Department of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, stated that a person’s genetic makeup and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.
In fact, a recent literature review commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport looked at all relevant studies about trans women in elite sports from 2011 until 2021 and found that the existing scientific findings do not support banning trans women and girls from women’s sports.
According to the 2020 Human Rights Watch report “They’re Chasing Us Away From Sport,” women and girls in sports have been subjected to scrutiny over their appearance, bodies, and performance for decades, spanning back to the 1940s. For elite women athletes, these tests included mandatory genital and gynecological exams; “nude parades,” in which women had to display their nude bodies in front of a panel of judges; and assessment of secondary sex characteristics. These humiliating practices were stopped in the 1990s, but similar invasive inspections for K–12 children have been introduced in the language of bills and, in at least one case, become law. No one should be okay with adults inspecting the bodies of young kids.