Is there room for trans athletes? The answer is up to Queen’s

Photo: 

It’s unclear where trans students fit in Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS), but institutions can ensure that space is made for students who can’t check one gender box or the other. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced a new policy wherein trans athletes no longer need surgery to compete. Trans men can compete without restrictions, while trans women have to prove they’re below a certain testosterone level.

In light of the IOC’s change, the CIS, the governing board for Canadian university sports, is reassessing its own policies, which currently offer no guidance on how and where non-binary, gender fluid or trans students can compete.

Changing genders involves a process of hormone therapy, which complicates things in competitive sports, because current sports standards ban certain substances that give an athlete a competitive edge. 

While the CIS and high-level sports sort themselves out, it’s left up to individual institutions to decide how to handle gender identification. It’s up to institutions like Queen’s to ensure that a lack of policy, or strict gender binaries, doesn’t deter trans students from participating.

It’s concerning that Queen’s lacks clear guidelines for trans athletes. Athletics and Recreation, for instance, declined to comment on their policies regarding trans student athletes because there wasn’t anyone available to speak on the matter.

But we don’t need a whole new system — we just need to make space in the old one. 

For Athletics and Recreation, this means taking a look at where non-cisgender athletes fit into their pre-existing structure and providing a point of contact for athletes to answer questions about how they can identify and play on a sports team, and what accommodations are available.

This point of communication could also help Athletics determine how many students this may affect and anticipate the needs of students who don’t fit a gender binary.

Gender equity is an increasingly important topic in our society, but change at a higher level is often prompted by pressure from below. We can’t sit back and wait for other people to take the first steps.

There are many resources available at Queen’s for Athletics and Recreation to consult, from the Equity Office to the Positive Space Program.

Here’s a chance for Queen’s to make sure we’re keeping up with changes made at higher levels of sport and set an example for other universities on how to make varsity sports teams accessible to all students, not matter their gender identification.

Journal Editorial Board 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.