A local controversy stirred up some interesting questions about gender, transgender and sports yesterday. The Downhill Nationals–a mountain biking race–were held at Whistler this weekend:
A downhill mountain bike racer has been suspended for three months for wearing a T-shirt that mocked transgender cyclist Michelle Dumaresq.
Dumaresq won the women’s race with Schroeter second. During the podium ceremony, Schroeter wore a white T-shirt with black print that said “100 Per Cent Pure Woman Champ.”
It was Dumaresq’s third championship in this sport. Here’s an editorial on the subject (note the ironic use of the term ‘sportsmanship’ in the first sentence), a discussion of the issue on About.com and some discussions on cycling bulletin boards.
The only medical opinions I’ve seen on the issue have been decidedly wishy-washy. Apparently a male-to-female transgendered person loses 30% of their weight when they make the switch. I’d still imagine, however, that their body fat-to-muscle ratio would compare favourably to other women.
To me, it reeks of unfairness that’s resulted from political correctness. I also think that there’s a big difference between participating as a transgendered person at an elite, national level (where there are sponsors and money at stake) and somebody playing pick-up hockey at the local arena. That said, my and everybody else’s opinion is moot.
Here’s what needs to happen: Canada’s sports bodies need to convene a commitee of brave medical professionals who can make a legitimate assessment of the issue. That’s how they decide which narcotics an athlete can take, so they should take the same approach here.