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The last decade has seen significant positive changes in global attitudes, policies and practices that impact the lives of trans people. Meanwhile, the world of sport has…
The last decade has seen significant positive changes in global attitudes, policies and practices that impact the lives of trans people. Meanwhile, the world of sport has been notoriously slow to follow these social justice initiatives. In fact, sport has the dubious distinction of lagging behind almost every other western social organization on issues of discrimination, whether based on sex, gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, social class, religion or ability. Underlying these trends is the binary thinking that has formed the basis for gender categories of sport and physical activity for over a century.
The introduction begins as Helen Lenskyj extends the issue of justice for trans athletes beyond the scope of sport. Next, the contemporary socio-political contexts in the US, UK, and beyond are outlined. A brief description of the common ground between justice for trans and intersex athletes is provided, while noting that the focus of this book is on trans athletes. An overview of terminology is presented.
Ali Greey then describes their personal experience competing for Canada as a non-binary athlete. Engaging Gleaves and Lehrbach's (2016) work, their argument challenges the viability of making trans-exclusive physiological equivalency synonymous with a rhetoric of fairness. Finally, the authors explain the volume's analytic frameworks and present an overview of the contents, summarizing the key themes and findings.
Formidable social-cultural and legal challenges face trans athletes, particularly trans girls and women, at the global, national and local levels. Two underlying and…
Formidable social-cultural and legal challenges face trans athletes, particularly trans girls and women, at the global, national and local levels. Two underlying and mutually reinforcing themes are in evidence throughout these analyses: the principle of sport exceptionalism, and the power of the media to shape trans-related discourse.
The longstanding concept of ‘sport exceptionalism’ is routinely invoked to justify trans girls' and women's exclusion: that is, rules applying to other social contexts and workplaces must be suspended in relation to sport, so that women's ‘safety’ and ‘fairness’ may be guaranteed.
Mainstream and social media contribute to trans exclusionary attitudes, by spreading misinformation and promoting a moral panic over the spectre of trans women taking over girls' and women's sport. Detailed analyses of media treatment of trans athletes Laurel Hubbard and Lia Thomas demonstrate these trends. Moreover, media play a significant role when they are reporting on global, national and local developments in sport policies and practices, with media distortion of scientific findings exacerbating these problems.
An examination of conceptual and applied responses to these challenges provides the context for exploring the way forward: new ways of imagining sport that are inclusive and just.