The fight for inclusion and equality in sports has been a long and ongoing battle. In recent years, the participation of transgender athletes at the professional level has been one of the most contentious issues. Even as countries like the US have made strides to advance equality for transgendered people, the world of athletics has struggled to find a way of allowing trans athletes to participate while assuaging claims of unfairness and safety concerns. With their decision to ban all trans athletes from participating in women’s sports, World Athletics – which governs track and field worldwide – has once again brought this hotly debated issue to the forefront. The decision has raised questions about the future of transgender athletes in sports and highlights the ongoing challenges they face in achieving full inclusion and equality.
To ensure safety and the best experience for athletes to excel in sports, eligibility to play on certain teams and at varying levels of competition has long depended on individuals’ biological factors, the primary factor being sex. This established practice of separating sport participation by two categories, male and female based upon the sex assigned at birth is being reexamined, particularly as it relates to individuals who were born male, now identify as female, and desire to compete in women’s sport. The federal government, state governments, and sport governing bodies are addressing the matters presented by athletes who transition genders, with opposition by both sides of the issues seemingly being the only commonality.