STAFF ED: Transgender Athletes

The Globe examines Clayton’s inclusivity regarding transgender athletes

May 15, 2019

Over the contrasting boos and cheers of the crowd, the referee for the Texas girls’ state wrestling championship raised Mack Beggs’ arm, proclaiming him the state champion.

Although hoping to compete on a boy’s team, Beggs had to wrestle for the girls at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas due to the state’s policy. Texas’ policy states that any person wishing to partake in high school sports must join the team correlating with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Beggs, a trans male (biologically female, identifying as a male), began hormone therapy a few years ago. Testosterone is not a banned substance because it comes from a physician, so with the extra amount of testosterone in his system, Beggs was able to crush his opponents, ending the season 36-0.

Controversial opinions have surfaced throughout the process of figuring out how to place transgender individuals on sports teams.

Many people believe trans female (biologically male but identifies as a female) athletes have an unfair advantage over their opponents. On average, male-bodied people have more muscle mass in relation to their total body mass due to higher testosterone concentrations than female-bodied people.

However, this works both ways. Like Beggs, trans males who are going through hormone therapy and are not allowed to compete in the division they identify with also have an advantage over their competitors. This leaves regulations regarding transgender athletes in a dubious position.

Unlike Trinity High, CHS prides itself on the inclusion of everyone in sports. That’s why when Nicky Taghert, a trans female and student-athlete at CHS, wanted to be included in girls’ soccer. Clayton offered her unconditional support.

“As a trans athlete, there’s people I’ve played that have been better than me, have been worse than me. It’s just a team sport,” said Taghert.

It’s hard to make claims that there’s a competitive advantage given how many other factors there are, like how much you train, your diet, your sleep habits, how hard you train and the type of effort you put in off the field. So there’s so many other things besides your assigned sex that contribute to your athletic ability.

— Nicky Taghert

Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) states a trans male must undergo treatments with testosterone for a gender transition in order to compete on a boys team; however, these athletes are no longer eligible to play on a girls’ team. It also says a trans female student-athlete must be treated with a testosterone suppression medication for gender transition for a full calendar year in order to compete on a girls team.

Taghert abided by MSHSAA policy regarding her playing on the girls’ soccer team at CHS. Taghert had to obtain four confirmation letters as a confirmation from mental health experts and other medical personnel saying that she adhered to their policy. The letters confirmed that she endured a few blood tests to measure the estrogen and testosterone levels and at least one year worth of hormone therapy prior to playing.

Another concern often brought up discussions regarding team placements is the locker room situation. Generally, transgender students at CHS avoid using the locker rooms and often change in the bathrooms or cars before practice.

MSHSAA policies are similar to Olympic policies as well. Previously, the Olympic policy required transgender athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgery, but in 2013, the policy was changed. Currently, the Olympic policy says that hormone therapy must be done for a year for athletes to compete with the gender they identify with. Looking into 2020, certain regulations regarding the amount of testosterone a trans male can be given may be changed.

Hormone therapy, according to Taghert, is a long process. Transgender hormone therapy, also known as cross-sex hormone therapy, is the process of replacing sex hormones with the sex hormones the individual wishes to identify as. This allows the person to align the sex characteristics of the sex of the individual as their gender identity.

“Getting approved to play was a long process, it feels daunting, feels intimidating,” Taghert said. “But, hopefully, since I went through it and it worked out for me, it can be used as a precedent so that trans athletes wanting to play aren’t as intimidated by the process and stigma behind it.”

Taghert has been allowed to play on the girls’ soccer team and is the first trans female in Missouri to play on the sports team she identifies with. With hopes of being an inspiration and continuing soccer into college, she is happy that all of the hard work of the school and her family has paid off.

Taghert is the first step in making CHS truly inclusive. Clayton’s no-cut policy allows everyone to play on a sports team, regardless of their ability. That everyone includes Nicky and any other transgender student-athlete.

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