Transgender Athletes Competing in Female Sports

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About this sample


Words: 2418 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 2418|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Athleticism of Transgender Females in Sports
  3. Inclusive Sports: Embracing Transgender Athletes
  4. Research Questions
  5. Review of Literature on Transgender Athletes
  6. Methodology
  7. Key Challenges and Conclusion
  8. Work Cited


Transgender athletes competing in women’s sport continue to be the most debated issues in the sporting world today. Some expert believes that it is unfair for anyone who has gone through male puberty to be allowed to compete in female sports. On the other hand, others argue that any person who identifies as a woman athlete must be allowed to compete in the women’s division. Interestingly, a transgender female was allowed to compete in international sport such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave them the green light. 

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However, transgender females were expected to prove that they complied with the requirement of the committee. First, they should have the surgical procedure that changed their external genitalia. Provide evidence of transition hormone treatment for an adequate length of time (Jones et al. 702). Have legal government authority recognize their new sex identification. The IOC decision to allow transgender females to compete in female sport was met with mixed reactions. The LGBT community welcomed the decision while the decision angered the general community. 

It is important to understand the various terms used in this study. Transgender are individuals whose psychological gender identity changed. For instance, a male may wish to be female. This process of transitioning from a male to a female through surgical procedures and hormonal therapy is referred to as transgender (Gleaves et al., 312). On the other hand, transsexual is a physical body to match the psychological gender via surgery and hormones. Additionally, intersex is people born with hormonal problems that result in different sex and gender characteristics from their natal sex. Caster Semenya, who is South Africa professional athlete, is an excellent example of an intersex individual. 

The Athleticism of Transgender Females in Sports

The general community claimed that the male-to-female transition had an unfair advantage over normal females. These groups of people believed that the future of female sport would soon be dominated by a transgender person who seeks an unfair advantage. Transwoman has more components of athleticism, such as strong and bigger muscles compared to other women (Elling-Machartzki 260). This enabled them to perform better on the track as other normal women have reduced muscle mass as well as low aerobic capacity. However, some research has shown that transgender people who are in hormone therapy are more likely to lose their athleticism components. The anti-androgen agent and estrogen present in transition hormones reduce their muscle mass. This is a disadvantage to trans as they get to the same level as other normal women.   

I believe every person, regardless of their gender identity, has a right to enjoy a meaningful competition. Therefore, any person who identifies as a female should be granted the opportunity to showcase her talent without being bias. Transgender go through all the process of making them female to include hormone therapy and surgical procedure aimed at giving them female features (Jones et al. 710). These are females who were trapped in the wrong body and must be granted equal human rights like any other person (Travers 650). Nobody chose to be different; everyone wants to be normal and feel comfortable in their skin. Denying transgender the right to compete in the female competition is the prejudice of the highest order, which is unlike sport. Sports is about inclusivity and diversity. People watch sports because they want to see the energy, stamina, and endurance of a sports person. To some extent, transgender makes female competition more interesting. 

Inclusive Sports: Embracing Transgender Athletes

Notably, sports is a socially constructed that mirrors society. Transgender females competing in women’s division is a human right issue that must not be ignored. For instance, an Australian athlete by the name Hannah Mouncey played for men’s handball team before she transgender. Mouncey was 6ft 2in tall and weighed about 100kg. After her transition, she joined the women’s handball team. Despite her expected advantage over other females, she was the third-leading scorer in their Asian championship held in December 2018. Her team was ranked fifth out of the tenth team tournaments (Klein et al., 557). This proves that transgender females have zero advantage over other females when it comes to sporting activities. This paper aims to describe what transgender is, discuss the various argument about fair play and why transgender deserves a place in all championship. 

Research Questions

From the above discussion, my paper will explore the question of whether transgender females should be allowed to compete in female sports? I will provide an analysis of arguments from various scholars who support the notion of inclusivity as well as those who are against. Generally, my research will be organized to investigate the following. 

  • Should female transgender be allowed to compete in women sports division?

Various competing issues have raised debate on whether transgender people should be allowed to compete in sports. These factors include the unfair advantage of male-female trans over cisgender. This paper will analyze all arguments provided in favor of or against transgender people. 

  • What is the role of sports federations (IOC) in upholding equity, equality, inclusiveness, and fairness in competitive sports? 

International Olympic Committee were the first people to acknowledge the rights of transgender women to compete in female sport. Since then, various sports federation have followed such decisions to allow transwomen to compete in female sports. This paper will discuss this decision using a case study to support transwomen participation in all sporting activities.  

Review of Literature on Transgender Athletes

Myron Genel wrote in his paper titled “Transgender Athletes: How can they be accommodated?” that sports competitions have always been divided based on traditional gender identity. Moreover, some sporting activities subdivide participants based on their weight, age, professional status, amateur, and affiliation. All this categorization is aimed at achieving equitable competition (Genel 12). Genel argues that politicians and clinicians have struggled to include transgender athletes to compete in sports. Luckily, the “The Stockholm Consensus” that was developed and adopted by the IOC’s team was a groundbreaking announcement in May 2004. The IOC’s Executive Board called for the inclusion of all transgender individuals as long as they met the set criteria. 

Other sports federation adopted the Stockholm Consensus, such as the USA boxing, track & field, gymnastics, and sailing. Genel took part in a meeting aimed at updating the guidelines for transgender athletes in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The sports federation committee agreed to drop the legal recognition and surgical anatomical requirement for transgender to compete in sporting activities. They further adopted the male-female requirement of maintaining serum testosterone levels of 10 nmol.L-1 for at least 12 months before competing (Genel 13). Additionally, female to male transgender was allowed to compete without restriction. Unfortunately, no transgender athlete participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics. This rule would later be suspended as it was considered unfair. 

Andria Bianchi acknowledges the question of whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in his article titled, “Something’s Got to Give: Reconsidering the Justification for a Gender Divide in Sport.” Bianchi argues that transgender women are restricted from competing in female sport due to the idea of unfair advantage over their cisgender (Bianchi 23). He believes that this problem is as a result of “the skill thesis’ principle that guides sporting activities. Therefore, Bianchi proposes a review of the gender binary in the sport if transgender women would be denied an opportunity to complete in female sport. He suggests that the federation can reconsider categorizing participants based on weight or height instead of gender. This design will remove potential discriminatory and unfair barriers as well as maintaining the skilled thesis. 

According to science daily, Professor Anderson (Bioethicist) suggests that it is vital to consider the principle of fairness and inclusion when discussing the topic of transgender participation in competitive sport. Professor Anderson, together with Otago physiologist Prof. Alison Heather and DR Taryn Knox, investigated the science and ethics behind the IOC’s decision and published their findings titled “Journal of Medical Ethics.” The scientist claims that the recent requirement by IOC guideline to allow transwomen to compete in the female sport if their testosterone level in the blood is below 10nmol/L. Prof. Heather believes that the requirement higher than found in Cis-women (Anderson et al. 2). Therefore, they suggest that transwomen should not be included in female sport and propose a change of gender division in sports. They argue that the federation needs to create a new category which comprises of transwomen and intersex women to compete between themselves. Testosterone levels are used to categorized transgender to their specific division.    

Baljinder et al. explore the concepts of equality, equity, and inclusion in transgender athletes’ participation in competitive sports in this new era. The authors discussed the idea of inter-relational dynamics existing between transgender participation in sports and medico-legal information about transgender’s role in athletics. They acknowledge that the inclusion of transgender athletes into sports competition is a significant challenge across the globe (Singh et al. 85). The Stockholm Consensus by the IOC has generated heated debate across the sporting world. Acceptance of sex and gender terminologies has raised various issues that need to be addressed. However, the IOC is interested in creating a global-view of equity, respect for one another, equality, and fair competition. 

The Guardian recently published a post titled “sport’s transgender debate needs compromise, not conflict.” The author, Joanna Harper, is a medical expert who transitioned from a male to her in her 20s and believes that sporting federation should respect athletes’ rights. Harper takes a middle ground on whether transwomen should be allowed to compete in female sport (Harper). She provides a personal experience where she noticed her reduce athleticism after the transition. Harper claims that she ran a marathon in 2:23 hours and got 12 percent slower after nine months of hormone therapy. This shows that transwomen do not have an unfair advantage when competing in female sports, as earlier claimed. Harper was able to publish at least eight cases of transwomen who were distance runners and showed reduced speed and strength after the transition. Moreover, Harper noted that there is a little study conducted on transwomen in sport. Those conducted examine transwomen competing in athletics only. She suggests more studies on other transwomen in sports.


The primary research method is literature review generated from secondary data. Library search for hard copies would be the ideal choice. I intend to utilize information written in the last five years because it captures actual data, and it is well updated. The school database is also beneficial to my cause as it contains all the relevant information required for this project. Internet is the most advance technology that contains a huge library of information retrieved by a click of a button. Moreover, the school administration has avail several types of print materials such as Newspaper articles, research journals, and magazines. One can listen to or watch multimedia sources such as CDs, Videos, and DVDs when tired of reading. This paper will use various case studies to solve the problems as well as achieve its objectives. Moreover, the focus group discussion will be held to determine the level of transgender acceptance and belief in taking part in sports activities. Focus group discussion would involve fellow students, and we can also include one of our lecturers to help us with group discussion. An extensive series of open interviews will then proceed with participants being athletes from our school and the local area. The last phase will involve analyzing the available data and making a recommendation. 

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Key Challenges and Conclusion

Research paper by nature is faced with critical challenges as students attempt to validate a knowledge claim through planning and hard work. Generally, more than 50 percent of students face various challenges when conducting their research projects. The key challenges that I am likely to face include the inability to find updated resources at the school database, time constraint, financial instability, and lack of proper guidance. I intend to use resources dating back five years. Our school library has not upgraded the school books for the last ten years. This means there would be no update resource book necessary for my research paper. Moreover, the time given by my supervisor is limited because I have other classes that demand my time and attention. However, I have designated a specific time during the day and night for my research project. Research work requires adequate financial support to get relevant information as well as to conduct quality research. This money sometimes is not available to me because I have to cater to other necessary things with my limited amount of money. Sometimes, we encounter uninterested people who am supposed to interview and give wrong information. Wrong data adversely affects the entire research paper as it gives a wrong impression. Finally, research guidance is very critical to the success of the entire study. I am supposed to meet my supervisor to discuss the paper rarely, which may not work against my project. The understanding research methodology is significant in the research proposal. Sometimes students face a challenge of understanding their research methodology, which consequently affects their overall work. Typing research work can be a challenge due to distraction from my roommates and neighbors who play music all day long. Typing for long cause back pain, headaches, and mental turmoil. 

Work Cited

  1. Bianchi, A. “Something’s got to give: reconsidering the justification for a gender divide in sport.” Philosophies 4.2 (2019): 23.
  2. Elling-Machartzki, Agnes. “Extraordinary body-self narratives: Sport and physical activity in the lives of transgender people.” Leisure Studies 36.2 (2017): 256-268.
  3. Genel, Myron. “Transgender athletes: how can they be accommodated?” Current sports medicine reports 16.1 (2017): 12-13.  
  4. Gleaves, John, and Tim Lehrbach. “Beyond fairness: The ethics of inclusion for transgender and intersex athletes.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 43.2 (2016): 311-326.
  5. Harper Joanna. “Sport’s transgender debate needs compromise not conflict.” The Guardian. 1st April 2019.
  6. Jones, Bethany Alice, et al. “Sport and transgender people: a systematic review of the literature relating to sport participation and competitive sport policies.” Sports Medicine 47.4 (2017): 701-716.
  7. Klein, Alexandra, Vikki Krane, and Amanda L. Paule-Koba. “Bodily changes and performance effects in a transitioning transgender college athlete.” Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 10.5 (2018): 555-569.
  8. Prof Anderson L., Dr Knox T and Prof Heather A. Existing gender categories in sports should perhaps be abandoned in favour of a more “nuanced” approach in the new transgender era. Daily science. 23rd July 2019. 
  9. Singh, Bal, Kanwaljeet Singh, and Narinder Sharma. “Equality, equity and inclusion: Transgender athletes’ participation in competitive sports-a New Era.” Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research 49.1 (2015): 85-88.
  10. Travers, Ann. “Transgender issues in sport and leisure.” The Palgrave handbook of feminism and sport, leisure and physical education. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2018. 649-665.
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Transgender Athletes Competing in Female Sports. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Transgender Athletes Competing in Female Sports.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
Transgender Athletes Competing in Female Sports. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Transgender Athletes Competing in Female Sports [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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