I was reading the article assigned to our class this week by Matzner and Costa regarding the sao braphet song and how they were marginalized within the Thai community. One point that I found incredibly interesting was the fact that any sao braphet song were unable to join the National volleyball team due to the fact that it not only make the other team members uncomfortable, but that it would ruin Thailand’s reputation in the sport. This got me thinking about the Olympics, and its stance on gender variance.
I found the following article on MSNBC:
It pertains to the 2008 Olympics and the possibility of having the first ever Trans-athlete official compete. The article follows Kristen Worley, a female Canadian cyclist, vying for a spot at the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. Though Kristen was born male, she had transitioned to female and lived most of her adult life as a woman. Unfortunately I could not find any follow-up information regarding her actually making the team, so it appears that she was not the first “out” Olympic trans-athlete.
Regardless, I was amazed to learn that only as recently as 2006 were the Olympic rules changed to accept those athletes identifying as Trans. I thought to myself “Wow– what a wonderful thing!” However, there are strict stipulations that require the athlete be 2 years “post op” and that they legally be identified as their preferred gender by their home country, not so easy for some. So with these rules come requirements that not all gender variant people are willing to do; two steps forward one step back.
The article goes on to site Mianne Bagger, the first nationally recognized trans female golfer. Though her work has been acknowledged as an inspiration to many, she notes that she simply wants to be recognized as a good golfer, not as a transsexual. The article mentions that she gets more interviews because of her transexualism, than for her sport.
These new Olympic guidelines may very well stigmatize and ostracize the very group of athletes that they are trying to support. Worley makes mention later in the article that the fact that they (transsexuals) have to “admit” and prove their sex requires them to stand out, when other athletes are accepted for what they are known to be.
Other arguments in the article discuss whether a transsexual has an advantage over others in their sport. It is often thought that male-to-female trans-people are able to be bigger, stronger, and more muscular than the other female athletes they are competing with. Nothing could be further from the truth, notes the article, saying that the decline in testosterone wears down muscular tissue in the body. Also female-to-male trans-people will be fiercely observed to ensure that they are taking the appropriate amount of testosterone and not abusing it, as it is prohibited in Olympic athletes.
Over all it is a wonderful thing that the Olympics have made an acknowledgement and a statement that they will be open and accepting to trans-people. They do, however, need to acknowledge the fact that not all gender variant people are the same and that the regulations should be less harsh.