Caitlyn Jenner vs. Transgender Athletes: Why are we still playing the same sports?

Not only should we let transgender girls play, but we should create opportunities for everyone to play together

Sudden California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner recently came under fire for opposing trans girls competing in school sports. As she is a trans woman and former olympic gold medalist, many were shocked by this stance. Unfortunately, if being something was the same as protecting something, the US would be a vastly different country. I also don’t think it’s strange position for a wealthy, politically conservative, 71-year-old personality to take on what has quickly become a politically conservative viewpoint this year. That’s right. Trans people throwing balls around is political.

Caitlyn Jenner says she opposes trans girls in female school sports

LONDON, May 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic gold medal winner and transgender…

While I am not transgender, I still believe trans girls should be able to play sports as girls, and I don’t need a ton of science to come to such a conclusion. I was cisgender boy athlete who already couldn’t outrun all the cisgender Erins, Leighs, and Kendras at my schools growing up. So any restrictive points seem moot to me.

Also, I believe it’s important to pay attention to the struggles of other marginalized groups routinely having their rights threatened publicly. Whether is Jenner, magic boy authors book billionaires, or actual governments, it’s no longer enough to say “who cares,” then hope you never have to prove your support them in front of your friends. If we’ve learned anything in the last few years, we need to speak up and support those who don’t have millions of dollars of power behind them.

What are sports supposed to be teaching kids anyway? I thought it was all about playing hard, winning well, losing gracefully, and playing again. Restricting play for anyone sounds a lot more like movie bullying than an educational policy. So for me, the question is less about whether trans girls should play sports with cis girls (you’ll notice no one is talking about trans boys), and more why haven’t we made more co-ed and mixed sex sports for cis and transgender boys and girls to play and compete in together?

Human beings are ingenious creatures, and I think it’s silly to sit around allowing popular sports to remain the world’s most expansive and expensive sausage fest. We should change the game and create more games and opportunities that anyone can participate in. We can allow for various genders and non genders to play together, basing games on differences on body weight, height, or age like many of the sports we already have.

We created the rules that govern modern sport and gender back in the days when men thought riding a bicycle would turn women into suffragettes who masturbated between cigarette puffs.

I guess it sort of did, to be fair
I guess it sort of did, to be fair — Amazing Women In History

There are a few long established sports that already do a good job of giving both men and women ways to play with one another or if not at least near one other. We’ve got sailing, tennis, gymnastics, figuring skating, track and field, darts, horse racing and equestrian sports, and curling a.k.a the best sport ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re transgender or cisgender, you can play and join a team.

Other sports with long histories of gender division like volleyball, basketball, track and field, rowing and swimming don’t actually separates genders for when playing out in the world. They only do it at the school level. Why not create intergender squads up to the state championship level? In “sports of fitness” like Crossfit and the GRID league, the gender equality is baked in. Both organizations boast team events that require men and women in order to even participate. The point isn’t that we’re there with these sports, just that inclusivity isn’t far way if we wanted to make it possible.

If we really want to start seeing athletics with a set of newly inclusive eyes, check out Ultimate Frisbee. They have passionate intergender leagues and a sport that is proudly played without officials. That is gender equality AND sportsPERSONship. Instead of pushing another concussion heavy American football program, we could birth school leagues of frisbee throwers based on friendship and fairplay. These games are ours. These schools are ours. Why not change the rules, to make playing sports as inclusive and open as it can be? Why restrict the ability of trans kids to get a physical education? Unless it’s not about education or fitness and really about something else? You guys wouldn’t have an ulterior motive though, right?

Growing up, my sports crazed father kept me involved in lots of sports. I never grew to appreciate sports to the point of watching the same Sportscenter three times on my day off (he really did this), but I largely agree with his perspective.

  • Sports were a great way to teach kids about life.
  • Sports was a chance for him bond with me and show what he knew.
  • Sports would help me make friends and keep me out of trouble.
  • Sports would teach me the value of discipline and hard work

Is this what you want to take away from trans children? Is this is the reason you want to go through the trouble of humiliating and checking the genitals of ever other athlete on a team? Is this what you want to put under the auspices of “protecting women’s sports?” Or is this about enforcing an outmoded status quo on the youth of your community and making life so needlessly uncomfortable for someone strong enough to know who they want to be already? It’s hard enough being a trans kid without policy keeping you away from other people that like what you do

This feels a lot like the film Remember the Titans. We’ve got these new players that want to join a community that would rather exclude and debase them instead of let them play and compete. To be fair, American football is terrible, but we shouldn’t need Denzel Washington coaching to make sure no one burns a cross in your yard. The ACLU does a lot more to debunk certain myths about trans athletes, ultimately proving gold medalist and Wheaties box alum, Caitlyn Jenner wrong.

I just believe we should push ourselves to do more. We should support our currently co-ed and female led sports teams at every level. We should allow them space into our schools and work to remake how we see sports. We should break our games open and make sure there is a place for cis and trans women on the field and off, as well as invent new sports and events with inclusion in mind.

We should play more Ultimate Frisbee.

I am not a coach or sports scientist. I’m not a teacher, I don’t have any kids, and I’m not even a sports fan. I firmly believe we can do better as a society than excluding our trans sisters and brothers that just want to play too. More than that, I believe that through youth sport is our best chance of addressing the across the board disrespect men and boys have retained toward women and girls. It begins with us playing and competing together.

Like my father, I believe sport really can bring the best out in us, and we need to take advantage of that to deal with the challenges ahead. Haven’t done enough training of children for competition and winning at all costs? Let’s add athletic inclusion into our curriculum. Let’s learn to depend on each other.

Before we go, here are some random ideas of sports I’d love to watch.

  • Intergender swimming relays
  • Height classes for figure skating
  • 4 to 6 person intergender Basketball squads
  • Co-ed synchronized diving
  • Doubles hammer throw
  • Duo Intergender Decathlon
  • Um… Soccer but with women?
  • Rugby
  • High School League Dodgeball
  • Monday Night Curling!
Michael Bridgett

Michael Bridgett

Michael Bridgett is an event host, songwriter, and actor that writes about this very wide world of ours. He also releases music as “Mike Dynamo” for Hypnotic Fist Technique, Funan Beat Empire and more
Tallinn, Estonia