Saving Women’s Sports?

by Sydney Wiser ‘23

Over the past six months, 30 states have introduced legislation to restrict transgender athletes, particularly transgender women, from competing in sports. In defense of this legislation, lawmakers have claimed that they’re “saving women’s sports” from the “unfair” physiological advantages transgender women might have. This notion, while also feeding into the transphobic idea that trans women are not “real” women, does nothing to combat the real problems that women’s sports actually face. 

If lawmakers are interested in protecting women’s sports they should listen to the problems that have been repeatedly identified by female athletes. Network coverage of women’s sports has been stagnant since the 1980s. Female athletes who want to become mothers face the risk of losing sponsorships, which are often their main source of income. The economic disparities in the culture of pay to play has prevented many young athletes from achieving their dreams. Body shaming of female athletes has resulted in eating disorders. Sexual assaults by people in power against female athletes have been reported in sports from soccer to gymnastics. Most recently, the lack of mental health support has led to the withdrawal of top tennis player Naomi Osaka from the French Open. Legislation should reflect the actual concerns of those who will be affected by it. Lawmakers should not use women’s sports as an excuse to be transphobic.