With Trans Athletes, ‘Fair Play’ Suddenly a Burning Issue in Sports

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I read Joan Vennochi’s column “Can we talk about transgender athletes?” with dismay (Opinion, Feb. 29). Vennochi expresses a concern for “safety and fair play,” but instead of doing more to seek out facts, she wastes time with opinion polls that are stirred by fear.

Here’s one data point: A report of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which examined research that had been published between 2011 and 2021, found no evidence to suggest that trans women have any advantage over cis women in sport.

Another fact: Trans women are vastly underrepresented in sports. (How is removing them from sports not part of an attempt to remove them “from public life,” as Carol Rose of the ACLU of Massachusetts says?)

Furthermore, if we want to talk about fairness and safety in sports, let’s do that. Let’s talk about the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy,even for children playing football. Let’s talk about how hard it is for low-income children to gain access to some sports, such as ice skating and hockey, because of the costs of equipment and other barriers. Then let’s ask ourselves why we’re suddenly so concerned with fairness and safety only when a trans child wants to play a school sport with other kids.

A final note: There are about 5.6 million intersex people in this country alone. My question to Vennochi: With whom should they play sports?

Caithlin O’Brien


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