I am writing today as a response to an issue very near and dear to my heart and my life; transgender discrimination and ignorance. Until today (Dec 10, 2012), I was unaware of the ESPN980 hosts’ rant about transgender junior college women’s basketball player, Gabrielle Ludwig. Thanks to a series of tweets from Patrick Burke, I researched the incident and became thoroughly angry.
After a few hours of unbridled anger, I calmed down enough to find the right words to put down. Below is what I came up with, my views on the incident, what it means to me, and how we can avoid similar situations in sports, as well as society. I apologize if this entry is not up to my usual standards, it is very tough for me to talk about these things without getting long-winded, so I am inclined to cut a lot out to avoid rambling.
Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin made fools of themselves on the radio on December 6, 2012 when they maliciously attacked not only an individual junior college women’s basketball player, but also countless women across the country, even more around the world. Not only did they insult Gabrielle Ludwig’s appearance, but her struggle, my struggle, and the harsh reality of so many others’ lives. The two ESPN980 talk show hosts attacked the trans community without hesitation and without remorse.
Their statements on transgender women participating in sports was a prime example of true ignorance. Apparently they think transgender women possess the same athletic and physical abilities of men, but with long hair and breasts. They know nothing of hormone replacement therapy and the toll it takes on the body. They disregard the psychological struggles of transgender women. And they fail to understand the immense physical and mental toll of the multiple surgeries usually needed throughout a full transition.
However, these aspects of transitioning are often not common knowledge to cis-gender and those who are not trans advocates, so I am inclined to somewhat overlook their statements here. What I cannot overlook are their blatant use of offensive and ignorant pronouns. They referred to Gabrielle as “he/she,” and eventually as what they called the “politically correct” term of “it.” I just about broke down in tears when they called her an “it,” and by extension, every other transgender person in the world. We are NOT “it”s, we are people. Trans women should always be referred to using female pronouns, and trans men should always be referred to using male pronouns. It’s simple.
I could get into the huge issue of trans women playing sports in women’s leagues, but frankly, all I need to say is; trans women are women, and should be allowed to participate in women’s sports. Hormone replacement therapy changes the way muscles use energy, how they build mass, and a person’s stamina (both muscular and cardiovascular). Trans women undergoing HRT do not have the physical capabilities of men. In fact, blocking testosterone production actually means trans women have a harder time building muscle and stamina, and in some cases losing weight, than they did before the start of HRT. The argument that trans women have an advantage over cis women is blatantly. scientifically, and medically untrue.
After all is said and done, and after we beat these issues to death, what do we have left? We still have a community, and society at large, that is woefully ignorant to the struggles of trans women, and the process of transition. Some people do not think society needs to know the general aspects of transitioning; I disagree. Almost all human beings over the age of 13 understand menstruation, the reproductive system, and sexual intercourse. They are aware of the LGBT community, well the LGB community. Meanwhile, the transgender community is misunderstood, stereotyped, and disregarded. The T has become silent. The time is now to educate society on transgender struggles and gender identity. We can all do something to help the world accept and understand women like me. Go on Google and do some research, or ask a transgender woman or man if they can help you understand trans issues. Personally, I am always willing to answer any questions about trans issues, the process, and any other trans-related questions, so please, feel free to send me a message.