Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Sports Report

This wave of visibility for transpeople in sports continues.....

I'm told that my Op/Ed piece on CNN.com has generated over 900 comments.  I haven't read a one of them, but I'm comfortable with everything I said.  I only wish I had more than 800 words to give it more substance.

I did an interview in Palm Springs today for Advocate TV.  They've been working on a story about trans people in sports for a while now and we've been trying to connect.  I'm told that they're featuring a trans-man in the story, as well, which is particularly good news as that's a side of things that rarely gets visibility.  Timing is everything or nothing and in this case it's a good thing they delayed it a bit because it's more topical now than ever.

I'm not sure what I said but from what I remember I was in rare form today.  My general passion for the subject combined with the fact that I woke up at 4:30am to be on the road by 5:30 (to beat rush hour thru downtown Phoenix), followed by a 5 hour drive before the interview makes the entire day something of a blur.  One thing I do remember is that the finished piece should be available for viewing within a few weeks.  Stay tuned....

There's an article this month in a UK publication called The Spectator ominously titled "Will transsexuals destroy women's sports?" (read it here).   The contents of the piece are better than the sensational title might  indicate.  One passage is particularly timely and well said:
But transsexuals, rather than genetic outliers, are the bogeymen of women’s sports. The better they perform, the more they are loathed by rivals, as the transsexual downhill mountain biker Michelle Dumaresq discovered when she won the 2006 Canadian national championships. The second-placed rider wore a T-shirt on the podium that read ‘100 per cent Pure Woman Champ’.

The science suggests that protests against transsexual athletes are misplaced. While men have a physical edge over women in almost every discipline, male-to-female transsexuals have no guarantee of sporting success. This is partly because treatment following sex-change operations reduces levels of testosterone, the hormone that builds up bone and muscle mass in men. An American report issued this month concluded: ‘Any athletic advantages a transgender girl or woman arguably may have as a result of her prior testosterone levels dissipate after about one year of oestrogen therapy.’

If they were superior athletes, wouldn’t you expect there to be at least one transsexual sporting household name? But no transsexual has dominated a sport as, say, Michael Jordan ruled basketball. The fear is out of all proportion to the reality. And there are only a handful of top-level transsexual athletes. If there’s going to be a transsexual takeover of women’s sport, as some suggest, they will need thousands of reinforcements.

Sports authorities shouldn’t waste time pondering how female women athletes are, because physical equality is not a true sporting value. The swimmer Michael Phelps has a huge bodily advantage over his rivals, but they don’t complain that they weren’t also born with flippers and arms shaped like paddles. Sport is a celebration of inequality.

Very well said indeed.

As for me, one day of chaos down and another tomorrow.  So much to do, and so little time.  As with so many things - it's all about the pacing.  :)

I'm just glad I'm not driving across country at the moment.  USA Today talks about some storms that hit the middle of the country today: "One of the strongest storms in decades barreled across the Midwest on Tuesday, touching off tornadoes, toppling trees and power lines and triggering potent winds that could cause damage and travel woes today."  That's the last thing I need....

I leave for my cross country trek on Thursday.  I'm going to try to limit my days to 800 miles or so as my typical 1,000+ mile days of driving take so much out of me.  It sounds strange to say that simply sitting in a seat steering a car can be draining but those who have done those kind of long days know of what I speak.  My fingers and toes are all crossed that everything gets done, that the trip goes well, and that I land on my feet.


Barbara said...

I play on an all female softball team and always wondered if anyone would comment that I was transsexual. Some of these girls can out beat me by a mile in hitting and fielding but I can get a great hit in once in a while. So far, no one had said anything, actually most girls don't even know :)
Have a safe trip.

writerjanice said...

You might be interested to know during the weekend of 15 Oct a bit of history was made in Cincinnati in the sport of Fencing. The Veterans Womens Epee event(for ages 50 to 60) was won by a transsexual fencer.

Like all the other uproar we've seen, the same tired arguments have been brought out about it is so unfair for her to compete, that there must be an advantage to growing up in a male body.

But since the USFA (sanctioning body for fencing) works within the USOC rules, she was well within the rules. But it's "interesting" to see reactions, even from people I would consider as open minded.

Anonymous said...

Donna, I'm a MtoF and have been on hormones for over 10 years now, have had my surgery almost 7 years ago and I admit that I have lost most of muscles strength. Maybe it is just me or the size of my body (wishing I was smaller) I'm still stronger than most women. I'm 61 yrs old and I know I can't do much anymore but I still think that most transexuals can compete on equal basis. I use to lift weights quite a bit and if I was in competition against another female who would lift in competition. I know that it would be a true competition, eventhough I feel I'm stronger than most female. Testosterone is what makes a man stronger. Once it is replaced or gone you lose your muscle mass. I know from experience.
I watched your match on you tube and I think that you had the advantage, being taller with longer arms. Leverage. I wonder how you would fair with a woman of the same build. I wrestled a little and found that tall people had a distinct advantage over me as I'm stocky. Well good luck with the sport.