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El American Live: A Debate on the Participation of Trans Athletes in Women’s Sports

El American Live: un debate sobre la participación de atletas trans en deportes femeninos

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Laurel Hubbard is one of the trans athletes of the moment and in El American Live we could not fail to analyze her case with all the details. At 43 years old and after overcoming a bloody injury in his elbow, the Olympic Committee accepted the participation of this athlete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be held next July.

Trans athletes in women’s sports, inclusion or injustice?

The controversy did not take long to arrive, because Hubbard is a trans athlete from New Zealand. That is, a biological man who after the age of 30, in 2012, underwent “gender transitioning.” Thus, socially, Laurel began her life as a trans woman.

Hubbard, in addition to enjoying a new gender, also began training in the discipline of weightlifting. Despite her inexperience, Hubbard eventually managed to break into the elite weightlifting ranks.

She trained hard, got her testosterone levels down to the required standards and won respective medals in the women’s weightlifting divisions. But there is a controversy that has arisen as a result of this muddle, and that is that Hubbard made her gender transition long after she had overcome her male puberty; therefore, according to scientific studies, she enjoys physical benefits for her biological sex over her female peers.

For this reason, The American Live discussed the participation of trans athletes in women’s sports: is their inclusion unfair to biologically born women?

Several special guests were present to discuss the topic: Dr. Ricardo Quesada, general surgeon; Alejandra Blasco, former psychologist of the Venezuelan Women’s Soccer Team; Dr. Diego Rodríguez, radiologist; Michelle Artiles, LGBTIQ+ activist; and Erik Del Búfalo, a philosophy professor. The program was hosted by Vanessa Vallejo, editor-in-chief of El American.

A diverse debate on the El American Live

The interesting thing about the panel is that the details of this controversial issue were analyzed from different perspectives.

Psychologist Blasco, for example, argued during the live stream that it is difficult to reach an Olympic team regardless of the gender of a person, so what Hubbard has achieved should not be underestimated. Blasco also commented that “today a male professional player can be much worse than a female professional player”, explaining that the competitive gap is no longer so wide.

However, several of the panelists did not agree with Blasco’s argument. In particular, Dr. Rodríguez was emphatic in emphasizing that biological men have significant physical advantages over women, even if their testosterone levels are lowered. He also stressed that in certain sports disciplines where physical strength makes a difference, such as boxing or martial arts, there is a notorious risk to the physical integrity of biological women.

Trans athletes - Laurel Hubbard - El American
Laurel Hubbard, the trans athlete who will compete (EFE)

For her part, Artiles, a guest LGBTI activist, commented that the cases of acceptance of trans people within the women’s divisions “are not reduced to sex and gender. It must be understood that each athlete is different and each person must be evaluated individually”. The activist also stated that trans athletes who enter Olympic competitions do so after complying with the standards and norms of the Olympic Committee.

Dr. Quesada also made valuable interventions in the field of biology and medicine, explaining that the physiological developments of men with respect to women are very different, not only because of testosterone levels, but also because of the bone evolution of the sexes and the different capabilities that both men and women have.

One example he gave was that women usually stop their bone development at the age of 18, while men usually have a development up to the age of 24.

Also very interesting were the interventions of Professor del Búfalo, who on several occasions highlighted many social phenomena that are being generated at the present time, taking the central debate as a starting point.

The professor commented that it is important to determine how to establish whether it is unfair or fair, or a right or not, the entry of trans athletes to the women’s sports divisions. Above all, he explained that it is fundamental to understand where the collective thinking on either point stems from: in a collective imaginary or a reality that a trans athlete should have the right to participate in women’s sports?

Likewise, Del Búfalo explained that the political-sports relationship should not be forgotten when analyzing these disjunctions, because, in the end, there are impositions from multilateral organizations, such as the Olympic Committee or the United Nations, which also play a significant role in the social-cultural changes in our society. Including in the sporting arena.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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