This week in transgender

Feeling a bit melancholy. In 2021, there have been over 80 anti-trans bills passed in the USA. From banning trans girls in school sports through to banning gender-affirming healthcare to under-18s, the States are on a transphobic streak, so I thought I’d open up a blog and just talk about it, edit it and post it just so I can get it out of my skull and translate it over to you, my reader. How are you by the way? Are you okay? I hope you are 🙂

Transgender women in sport. One of the biggest debates in all of the social spheres on all sides of politics regardless of party affiliation. The main argument is, yes gender identity exists separate from sex, but you cannot deny that people born “male” will have significant biological advantages over people born “female”. When put on the spot, usually I would find it hard to answer this. I’ve suggested that we change the form of separation in sport from gender to ability or just let them compete and live with the consequences that sometimes people have biological advantages. After all, trans women ARE women, so why should their perceived biological advantage be any less valuable? I say usually because the other day, I discovered a fact that will forever change my argument when approaching this discussion.

Transgender people have been allowed to compete under their correct gender identity on an Olympic level since 2004. You can look it up if you don’t believe me. Obviously, there are conditions regarding surgeries and the legal recognition of their gender but ultimately all transgender people can compete under these restrictions. Athletes must have undergone gender-affirming surgery (both top and bottom), must show legal recognition of their gender and athletes must have received hormone therapy for an appropriate time before participation, with two years being the suggested time. Since 2004 this was the norm until 2015. Now all transgender men can compete without restriction. So, in short, it’s not even a debate because, despite fears of imbalances in physiology and biological performance, not one medal has been won by a transgender person since it was legal for them to compete. Not one. 

With this knowledge, it’s impossible not to beg the question, “why do politicians care, considering they surely know the rules laid out by the Olympics and their implications?” In other words, why are we even talking about this when it’s shown to make absolutely no difference to the success of cis women? I think it’s simple. As long as the people are debating the validity of trans people being seen as their correct gender, the government can get away with not progressing trans rights.

It’s similar to that bathroom myth about how cis-men will abuse any law that allows trans women into the correct bathrooms to take advantage of women and girls. I’ve already debunked this argument in another blog, but in short – every country that has implemented bathroom bills have had no raise in perverse crime since its passing (excluding Canada where there was 1 case of someone abusing this law). It’s also similar to the self-id argument “if we don’t regulate people’s ability to transition then there will be a higher rate of detransitioning” – even though studies have shown that children as young as 5 can recognise their gender identity correctly so there is no reason to doubt a child if they decide they are transgender. The real question is why someone who might present this argument thinks that transgender children can’t know their gender identity, but cisgender children can? The argument is deliberately incongruent because it has to create a discussion It’s meant to elicit a reaction, if it didn’t then the argument’s purpose would be lost.

Arguments like this, so often debated in the media, aim to undermine trans affirmation and distract the public from giving transgender people the support they need. Nothing more, nothing less. My claim here is proven by the lack of scientific backing for any highlighted transphobic argument. Trans people should be able to live as their gender without question, that is a human right. The best piece of evidence for this is that trans people allowed to live as their correct gender have significantly better mental health than trans people that aren’t. The question shouldn’t be, “what level should trans people be allowed to exist as themselves at?” but rather, “why is society still willing to discuss how well we should accept trans people as who they are?”

For example, there are current political leaders who sit in prominent positions of the opposition to the Conservative government who are still willing to agree with the Tories on their approach to trans people, not because they necessarily agree with it (although some definitely do) but because it isn’t the message they want to demonstrate. They know it’s bad for optics to stand with trans people because of the rampant transphobia within the UK.

For example, in an interview with Sky, the leader of the opposition inferred that he believed that trans rights are human rights, but there still needs to be restrictions on who needs access to women-only spaces, like domestic abuse shelters. He sat there and blatantly inferred that he thought trans women are a lower class of women and clearly ignored that the domestic abuse rates among trans women are some of the highest of any group. He knew that standing with the complete inclusion of trans people was bad for his brand and whether he believes what he said or not, he is personally damaging the lives of transgender people all over the UK because he won’t use his voice, he won’t support us, he won’t listen to us or the science.

I criticise him more because as the individual who is meant to be representing the voice of the majority of the nation he is doing a very bad job of listening to the LGBTQ+ people in his own party, let alone the nation. He evidently thinks that the Tories are doing enough for trans people. He isn’t an opposition, he is an ally to them.

This is why those 82 anti-trans bills have been passed in the US. This constant debate only serves to hinder trans people. Discussing inclusion in sport, affirming medical treatment for teenagers, ability to self-identify are all just tools to distract us from enacting change. They would rather we talk about ethics than pay attention to the regressive approach to trans rights so many government officials are taking. We need to stop discussing how and why and to what extent we should include trans people and start to just do it, regardless. Let them compete as their correct gender as you would a cisgender child, let them express their gender as they wish as you would a cisgender child and most importantly, question why the government continues to treat trans people like they are lesser than cisgender people. 

We live in unprecedented times, dear reader, and not just due to COVID-19. It seems that yet again, the world has it in for trans people – but I have been told I can get a bit negative in these posts so I’m going to sprinkle a little bit of positivity here as I am this brief post to a close.

I changed my name. Finally, one of the key parts of my social transition has been completed. My name is Io, I am the same non-binary blogger that you knew before but [deadname] is no longer with us. Shame that that’s the only positive for me as a trans person this week, but it will do. Let’s keep pushing for a better society, one where everyone is free to truly be who they are without restriction, without question and with the love, support and understanding that I have been so lucky to encounter on this journey. 

To find my socials go to iocutmore.com. On my website, you can also find LGBTQ+ support links as well as a list of brilliant (mostly LGBTQ+) creators to who you should go and show some support. I hope you farewell until next time,

-Io


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