So I guess this is a blog post I’ve been putting off really. I mean it’s such a contentious, serious issue and given it’s the main focus of my blog I guess I’ve been wanting to think a lot about the issue and try to cover all the bases as it were.
When I first started looking at transitioning I knew I would have to pretty much give up swimming for many reasons. Initially at the early stages using “gender appropriate” changing rooms and costumes was an issue. Do I turn up “in roll” and then change into a male costume? Or do I wear a womans with lumps and bumps in all the wrong places? The local baths I’d been at for some years were really cool about the whole thing luckily and after a chat about how I wasn’t going to use the disabled changing rooms we all came to a middle ground of me using the women’s changing rooms,…. just showering in my costume. I mean we wouldn’t want to give any old ladies a shock ;) lol.
In the end I stopped swimming for a multitude of reasons. Partly because I’d got it into my head that I had to be the grimiest of girls and I wasn’t going to achieve this with having muscles. This now being something I’m learning to live with. I also became very disillusioned with the sport given how long I would be away from competitions. As soon as I outted my self as trans I was no longer able to race as a man, I mean I’d just told them that I wasn’t a man after all. Now here’s the big kick in the nuts (excuse the pun) To compete as a woman has nothing to do with your legal gender in any way shape or form. I have a driving licence and all sorts of documents that say I’m a woman but they mean nothing to governing bodies both nationally and internationally for swimming, running, triathlon, including the Olympic committee. All these bodies have 2 criteria. Firstly that I have had two years on gender appropriate hormones and secondly that I have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.
Now the first criteria I can fully understand. I would have a man’s body and be racing against women. In most cases this would offer a VERY unfair advantage given muscle strength, size, power etc and without it being in place people could very easily abuse the situation and all of a sudden you’ve got half a dozen men racing in women’s races. To give you an idea men have testosterone (T) levels of 15-17 and estrogen (E) levels <80 where as in women T is 5-7 and E is 80 – 1000 depending on lots of things. Mine are E 610 and T 0.5. I literally can’t sprint to save my life, I have no explosive power :S. Now my disillusion with the time out from sport comes partly from this though. Ok so you come out and you start on the path to becoming more like the person you are on the inside. It will be a year to a year and a half before you even have hormones mentioned. THEN you have two years to wait.
Now the second criteria I hate,… no ,… I loath in that it’s such an archaic approach to gender etc. As stated above you can see I have less testosterone than your average women making it harder for me to compete for many reasons including strength and also things like recovery times and over all energy levels. This makes the entire process an up hill battle in its self and clearly my sex organs aren’t working any more meaning as long as I could prove this surly that’s what matters?
This idea that having a penis makes me unelligable to compete is something that is mirrored through out my life. this idea that having a penis makers me a man and thus the lack of it a woman. This can be seen all over but mostly in people’s perceptions of me as a person. the “you’ll be a man untill you get rid”. My usual response is, if you had a car crash and it fell off, would you be a woman or an unhappy man? The having or the lack of is irrelevant in reality for both who I am and also how well I can compete. But hey I don’t make the rules I just have to follow them :/
The other down side of having surgery first is that even if everything goes well I’m looking at a minimum of 3 months recovery time doing literally nothing and then having to build back up very slowly. not to mention issues with chlorine water and sitting on bike seats,… can any one say OWWW?
surprisingly in all this though other athletes that I would be competing against and interested race teams don’t seem to care about what’s going on between my legs even if I would beat them in practice and / or on race day. The only people who seem to care are the governing bodies except for the gay games who’s gender identity policy is a lot more relaxed and understanding (guess where I will be going in 2014. Even race organisers have said they wouldn’t have a problem with me racing.
The only thing that bothers me really is the extreme double standards for trans men. there is a triathlete in the states who is a trans man and is able to race along side men even though he hasn’t had surgery,…. the reason for this,…. they don’t belive he has a chance of winning against other men. Just because we as trans women could win. Does that mean we should be subjected to the double standard?
So I put it to you, the reader as an open debate having been given “the facts”. If you were to swim/bike/run a race and it turned out the winner wasn’t even born the gender they were racing would you feel they deserved it? or more so, would it be right?
Answers on a post card :) xxx