The Tokyo Olympics, despite facing a large proportion of the Japanese public opposed to it going ahead, is fast approaching. Increasingly in recent years, a lively debate keeps reigniting differences of opinion about who should qualify to compete in which events, particularly when it comes to the concept of gender. As more and more transgender athletes are qualifying to represent their countries, many question the validity of allowing transgender women to compete against non-transgender women (aka “cisgender women”).
In this article, the author makes her case that it is unfair to allow transgender women to compete in the women’s events because of the extremely unfair advantages that the physical differences in male bodies have over females, including increased male hormones such as testosterone, which naturally leads to bigger muscle mass, increased power, strength, speed and so on. Should sports keep “men’s” and “women’s” gender categories as before and allow athletes to compete under whichever gender they choose to identify with? Or, as the author suggests, just use sex-based categories, with an exclusive “female’s” category, and then an “open category” for men and everyone else, transgender or not?
Alternatively, does this argument once again support the case that the Olympics have truly become meaningless? Perhaps once designed to showcase the sporting prowess of nations and recognise the hard work and devotion of athletes, this meaning has clearly been lost long ago. The International Olympic Committee does not even allow Taiwanese athletes to carry or show their own national flag, forcing them to compete under the flag of a completely fictional entity of “Chinese Taipei”. Likewise, with widespread state-sponsored and individual drug cheating, how can you ever be sure that the people who win are even deserving of their medals? Add to that the huge advantages that genetics bestow on some purely by luck, such as athletes like Michael Phelps who the author uses to exemplify the concept of “natural advantage”, but actually should really be called “unfair advantage”, and it certainly seems that the Olympics are not just meaningless – they are a massive waste of money and resources that could be spent on many more deserving issues. So, have the Olympics outlived their usefulness and become yet another outdated relic deserving only of a place on the ash heap of history?