• Published Date: 23/11/2021
  • by: UNDP

Transgender People as an Athlete

I’ve loved soccer since I was in high school. Everyone must have seen me at the field, but one thing I didn’t like at all was how I had to watch for my skirt. I used to wear pants, but the teachers said it wasn’t ‘appropriate’ because ‘you are a girl, they said. I never said I was a girl, though.” Beam (alias), a 22-year-old transman currently working as a graphic designer in a company, talked about his experience in being a ‘transgender person’ who played sports. Even though Beam still has ‘Miss’ in front of his name, he never felt he was one and started calling himself a trans after middle school. “I always believe I am a man.” Beam said.
Thus for the Transgender Awareness Week, GendersMatter together with UNDP Thailand would like to take you through obstacles on sports with “Transgender Youth and Sportsperson” to clear up misunderstandings about transgender people.
#GenderAndSports – “Boys kick balls, girls jump ropes, gays play volleyball” is the image that comes up when talking about the ‘sports’ and ‘gender’ of the players. These values are all constructed by our society for a very long time when there should be no more than player’s preference and skills when it comes to sports.
“I don’t agree dividing sports with gender. Soccer? Anyone can play soccer. It’s always a team of every gender in my neighborhood. In P.E. class at school, the girls seemed to have fun too, but after-class sessions always had some teacher scolding and kept watch of them, especially those who did high kicks while wearing skirts. I was one of those students but I couldn’t care less. Some were worried about it though, so much that they just stopped playing.” Beam added.
Even though Beam believed that ‘Sports has nothing to do with gender’ and kept enjoying soccer up until graduation, Beam still told us the trauma that stopped him from following his dream in the sports career. School’s soccer competition did not let him participate just because of his ‘sex’ as a female player, and there was no female-player team. “My school was small, there was only a male team for soccer. All my soccer friends could participate except for me who had to do something else. Sometimes racing, cheering support, or team service.”
#TransAthlete – From 2014 onwards, International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows transgenders to participate in the game according to their gender identity on the conditions that they have their identity declared for a minimum of four years, and that their hormones level fits the stated numbers. That’s how Laurel Hubbard was able to join the game in the last Olympics.
Nevertheless, the transgender athlete is still a controversial issue widely discussed—especially transwomen as they say, “men are stronger than women”, which means even as a transwoman, she will have more advantages than a cis-woman. A transwoman athlete like Laurel did not win over a cis-woman in weightlifting, while Manuel Patricio, a transman boxer, could win over a cis-man in a boxing match.
#SportIsMagic – Many studies agree that ‘sports’ help with children’s development in many aspects: physical, emotional, social, teamwork skill, and sportsmanship. Therefore, for kids to be able to have fun safely, and be able to grow should be the main concerns of child’s sports rather than limiting their ‘genders’ and keeping them out of some games just because that sport is not ‘suitable’ for their gender.
#TransgenderPeople’sDreamAndSports – Beam still loves to play soccer as always with his teammates from school. The only thing that has changed is that he had a sex reassignment surgery 3 years ago, and soccer is now just a ‘hobby.’ “I stopped being paranoid about the competition. Nowadays I just play soccer for fun and to meet up with my friends. I still hope that one day, I can participate in a game—just an amateur match is fine. I don’t know if they will divide male and female, but now that I’m fully a man, I hope I can join.”
Beam also adds that the news of transgender sports players in the Olympics gave him hope—the hope that he can also join. However, he has also seen some comments from his friends being ‘against’ it which he can’t get out of his mind. But Beam still believes that one day in the future, not just at the international level but also in schools, there will be changes for the games to be ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ so no one is left behind. For the children with the same dream as his to be able to enjoy sports, for them to be able to follow their dreams in the career.
Because sports don’t have a gender.





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