For transgender athletes, situation and feelings come into play
This past Monday night, at about one in the morning, I was poring over the 40-page packet I got at track that day. I was looking at varsity qualification times to see what time I needed to hit on my 1,500 meter race to qualify for varsity and I noticed the difference between the times that boys and girls needed to hit to make varsity. The difference is pretty big: the qualifications for boys are at 4:24.0 and the girls at 5:40.0.
This brought a question to my mind: What if you identify as a girl, but are genetically a boy? Would you have to meet the boys' qualification or would meeting the girls' place you on varsity? To answer this, I looked into the OSAA's policies on transgender students. The policies state that for any transgender student to participate in a sport they must participate as that gender for the rest of their high school career — this includes not only sports, but any other high school activity they might participate in. Also, any female-to-male students can choose to participate on a boys' or girls' team, granted they don't decide to switch in the years to come. Female-to-male students taking hormone supplements or other transition drugs are required to participate on male teams.
The rules for male-to-female students differ. Male-to-female students not taking hormone treatment are required to play on a male team. If they wish to participate on a female team, they must have been taking hormones for at least a year. Is this policy fair to transgender students or not?
To answer this question I talked with a transgender student enrolled at Scappoose High School. He doesn't think OSAA's policies are fair. He believes students should get to decide what team they want to be on, and that the policies are too strict. The biggest problem he had was that male-to-female have to be using supplements to play on a female team. I asked him about the physical advantages males genetically have and if it was fair to put a boy on a girls' team, even if they identify as a girl. He said, "I think it depends on the sport. In sports like soccer and volleyball, it shouldn't matter what gender you are, but in sports like track, where you need times or marks to qualify for varsity, you should run with your sex, unless you are taking hormone supplements, then you should be able to participate as the gender you identify as." While I feel our policies are not the best, they are better than other policies around the country that require you participate based on what your birth certificate says.
I realize the idea of being transgender is relatively new and that different policies are being tested all over the nation, but ultimately the policies should be based on the feelings of the individual and the situation they are in.
Chase Bakkensen is a junior at Scappoose High School.