I was on TCU when I ran across a post linking to an article about a transgender skateboarder named Hillary, a girl who was born a boy, and has loved skating as either gender. At first I think, “Oh that’s cool; a very relevant issue in today’s society is being tackled in the skateboarding world.” And then I got worried. I’ve still got a few femme friends who compete. And girl skaters have a rough time finding a competition with a girls’ class. Now what if Hillary decides to compete? Does she get put in the men’s class or the women’s class?
Let’s back up for second. The reason why sports competitions are divided by sex is because there are incontrovertible differences in the physiology of men and women. That’s fair. And it’s that difference in physiology (which begins at puberty) that allows guys to naturally progress faster than girls in most any sport, and likely push farther. This is not to say that women can’t be as good as men. What I’m saying is that for a woman to match up with the top men in her sport, she would likely have to put in extra effort to gain a muscle mass closer to that of a man her height. Now maybe this isn’t super dramatic in skateboarding, but it’s plain as day in BMX. It’s why you likely won’t see many girls doing triple whips, flip double whips, or 360 double whips to late barspins. If you do find a girl who can do those tricks, I’ll bet she’ll be buff and ripped, like a shirtless Larry Edgar with boobs. That’s science. We girls have natural hurdles to overcome in our progression. So having separate classes is the appropriate way to go, and we’re excited when a competition offers us a separate class. We don’t have the numbers to always fill those classes but we try really hard to get the word out. Trust me, we appreciate it. Just ask Amelia Brodka (Underexposed) or Angie Marino (Yeah Zine)
So let’s get back to our transgender boarder, Hillary, and her hypothetical interest in entering a skateboarding competition. She might want to be placed in the women’s division. But while she might look like a woman, her bones and muscles belong to that of a man. Even if she looks as thin as the next girl, is it fair to place her in the women’s division? Would it be fair to place a transgender guy (girl ->boy) in the men’s division? So where would Hillary or any other transgender woman fit in competitive action sports?