Doctors want trans athletes in youth sports and no 'emphasis on who's winning'


Doctors feel trans athletetes playing in female sports would be beneficial to them

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 20/09/2023

- 08:44

Researchers feel trans women playing in female sports would be beneficial to their mental health

Physicians feel trans youths should be allowed to compete in women's sports at school and college level.

In America, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed a law back in June that prevented transgender college athletes from competing as the gender they weren't born as.

There have been a wave of 22 bans on transgender athletes at schools and colleges.

But researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee feel participating in sports has many benefits, with improved mental health and self-esteem along them.

Alexander Sin, who works at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, wants less emphasis on 'who's winning' and explained his stance on the matter.

"I want people to just try to throw politics out — we are thinking about kids here," Dr Sin said.

"So these regulations are often K-12, right? We start from kindergarten.

"How competitive is kindergarten? And why do we care if there is this little boy who is assigned as female at birth, who wants to play as a boy? What is fairness?

"They’re trying to build a community and trying to fit in. The LGBTQ population is already told that they’re 'other' and they’re different.

"We don’t know if that causes the higher risk of having mental health issues, but we do see an association between being LGBTQ+ and having mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and high suicidal risk overall.

"We also know that sports activities for children are important for development, as it can affect their confidence as they find their tribe and their friends.

"To share experiences with everyone else is a part of growth and maturation. It’s also shown to be beneficial to things like their physical health.

"It’s also important for other things like reducing teenage pregnancy and school dropouts.

"At the end of the day, what is most important? Is it that we have more kids playing and allow kids to play, or does it matter who gets a medal at a third-grade competition?

"I think our emphasis needs to be on their health and wellness. We don’t have to put so much emphasis on who’s winning."

Dr Sin also address concerns that transgender athletes would have an advantage, insisting there's no conclusive evidence on that just yet.

"Our medical community is still learning. I would say this is still an early stage, but there is conflicting evidence," he said.

"[Some research has found that] trans women are superior to cis women because of certain strength and speed measures.

"But the problem with this is that it doesn’t translate to sports performance. It’s not like you squat more and that translates to you jumping higher, or you can do a heavier bench press, so you can throw things further.

"There are also techniques and other parts that play into it, because otherwise the strongest person would just win all the medals, and that’s not true.

"The other thing we talk about too is, yes, we look at how [trans females] went through male puberty, let’s say.

"They have a bigger skeletal frame, they have bigger muscles and things like that because they developed that way because of sexual dimorphism.

"But if you have them undergo hormone therapy, we take away the muscle strength to a certain degree. And will that still translate to the same kind of advantage? You have a bigger frame, but your muscles are now not designed for that frame.

"And there are a lot more nuances in this. There are a lot of barriers for [trans athletes] to break through.



A huge 22 states have enforced bans on trans athletes


"Athletes are not only about numbers and strength, speed, coordination.

"There’s also the mentality and psyche of the athlete.

"So I think being able to break through the barriers and be able to access sports and being able to advocate for themselves to get to a spot there also means a lot, and could play a role in why someone might be a better athlete."

It was recently claimed that Lia Thomas had received preferential treatment because of being a trans athlete.

A sports coach who criticised the 24-year-old for being allowed to compete against women also claimed she was 'stoned and hanged' for her views.

There are believed to be around 300,000 13 to 17-year-old's in the US that are transgender, which works out at roughly 1.7 per cent of the entire high school population.

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