4 tired myths about trans athletes and school sports that have no place in 2021, debunked

gender dysphoria

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted a series of tweets debunking myths about transgender athletes.

The ACLU posted a series of messages on Wednesday (2 February) in the wake of dozens of state legislatures across the US debating laws which would bar trans women and girls from participating in sports. The organisation said the bans are “discriminatory, harmful and unscientific” before posting four facts which explained why common perceptions of trans athletes are wrong. 

The facts included that trans girls are girls; trans athletes do not have an unfair advantage in sports; including trans athletes will benefit everyone; and trans people belong on the same teams as other students. All valid points.

The first myth was “sex is binary, apparent at birth and identifiable through singular biological characteristics.” The ACLU quickly chucked the tired, binary notions out the window, stating there’s “no one way for our bodies to be”. It continued: “Women, including women who are transgender, intersex or disables, have a range of different physical characteristics.

“Biological sex and gender are not binaries.

“There are no set hormone ranges, body parts or chromosomes that all people of a particular sex or gender have.”

The ACLU then moved onto the myth that trans athletes’ physiological characteristics might provide them with some “unfair advantage” in sports. However, ACLU said, like cis athletes, trans individuals “vary in athletic ability” like everyone else. They added: “In many states, the very same cis girls who have claimed that trans athletes have an ‘unfair’ advantage have consistently performed as well as or better than transgender competitors.”

The nonprofit then argued against the notion that the participation of trans athletes would somehow hurt cis women. The ACLU said excluding women who are trans “hurts all women”. It said exclusion of certain athletes “invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being ‘too masculine’ or ‘too good’ at their sport to be a ‘real’ woman”.

Finally, the ACLU ended on the myth that trans students need separate teams. The ACLU said, like any person, trans people may experience “detrimental effects” to their physical and emotional wellbeing when they’re pushed out of affirming spaces and communities. Efforts to exclude subsets of girls from sports can undermine team unity, it said. The tweet continued: “Youth derive the most benefits from athletics when they are exposed to caring environments where teammates are supported by each other and by coaches.”

The latest in people trying to stop trans athletes competing in sports.

Legislators in Montana recently passed a bill – known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act” – which would bar trans girls and women from participating in interscholastic teams that correspond to their gender identity. 

Lawmakers in Texas have filed legislating that would ban transgender girls and women who attend public K-12 schools, colleges and universities from playing on single-sex sports teams. According to the ACLU, 11 states have filed legislation excluding transgender youth from athletics in 2021.