I really don’t know why, but I used to believe that Freddie Prinze Jr was a douchebag. He was never on my radar and I only knew that he was in the Scooby-Doo movie, but then I learned more about him and about his life. I listened to what he actually has to say and you know what? I like the guy, I genuinely like him as much as anyone can like a person they’ve never met. He is most decidedly NOT a douchebag. This used to be the process for me. I would start out disliking something or someone with no basis, only ignorance, but a glance at the subject and I would make the call, usually in the negative. This is where I believe transgender people find themselves when the subject becomes “trans women in sports”.
We are the FP Jr to Conservative lawmakers because they treat ignorance as a badge of honor, they believe we are the easy target, the easy get. The subject of sports is useful to them because it’s an ambiguous enough subject and all they have to do is yell “unfair” and suddenly even those on the left are kind of onboard. Everyone wants fairness in sports, so clutching pearls over the supposed unfairness of trans women competing in sports is a great way to pull most cis people into one trans-exclusionary group. Completely ignoring that trans women have been competing in sports for years and they haven’t dominated any sport. But it was never about winning, it’s about bigotry. A single win by a trans woman gives every cis person pause, and it gives the transphobes a clown car to put all the cis people into and drive them right to the anti-trans bills awaiting their approval.
But it’s only sports they have a problem with, most cis people are against other anti-trans measures, right? Not really, not when you can put sports up as the poster child and then suddenly the doors are open for anti-trans restroom, locker room access, name/gender document correction and bodily autonomy/medical care legislation. The Trump administration had a guide for homeless shelters on how to spot a Trans Woman so that they could effectively deny shelter… to homeless trans women. Transgender people are often left homeless either by being kicked out by family, denial of employment and usually both, simply for being transgender. So by taking this measure, the Trump administration was ensuring the intentional suffering or deaths of homeless trans women.
If cis people would look at the reality of trans women in sports instead of the rhetoric, they would see that we have been competing for years and not only don’t dominate but rarely reach the upper levels of the sports they compete in. They would see that whatever advantages we might have were taken with HRT and the very strict regulations for even cis people for hormones, etc. They would see that the supposed anatomic advantages never seem to translate into trans women holding top positions in any sport. They would also see that anatomic advantages are inherent in cis people who do actually dominate those sports. But it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about transphobia. If we win even once, transphobic people shout “unfair”. If we lose, transphobic people shout “not in our bathrooms”. There will always be a dog whistle for transphobes, so long as there is ignorance to fuel them.
The moment cis people stop looking at us as “other”, as transgender, and just as the women or men that we are, then we can stop making the distinction between cis and trans. Removing those labels is a great way to find common ground. This is up to cis people, they generated this need by creating and enforcing our marginalization. They have the means to make us one people, simply by accepting us for who we are and not who they want us to be. The sports, bathrooms, everything won’t matter anymore. I would think the same could be said of race, but I am white and I cannot speak to the experiences of POC. I believe that accepting everyone as having the right to be at the table, to be part of the family, is most important.