As the debate over transgender athletes rages on, a group of physicians has weighed in. They say there is a brewing health crisis at stake that no one has considered. Here is the full story.
Trans Athletes Under Fire
The debate centers around transgender athletes participating in sports, especially when they want to compete with other athletes of the gender they identify with.
Are They Cheating?
The problem seems to be most prevalent with transgender women, where athletes who were born male are often accused of having an unfair advantage.
Watching Every Breath
When one of these athletes breaks a record, wins a tournament, or sometimes just shows up, parents and media jump all over the story.
States Taking a Stand
In response, about half of U.S. states have passed laws banning or restricting transgender athletes from participating in sports that are in line with their gender identity.
From Top to Bottom
Some of those bans are limited to college or high school athletes, but some span all the way from kindergarten on up.
It is worth noting that transgender women are rare, and that it is incredibly rare for transgender women to participate in sports.
Save Women’s Sports, an organization whose main goal is to oppose transgender women’s participation in sports, was only able to identify five transgender individuals competing on school teams from elementary school through high school across the nation.
Unseen Health Risks
While those restrictions appeal to parents of other athletes and conservative politicians, there may be health issues at stake that no one has really considered.
Researchers Have Something to Say
A group of health researchers and pediatric sports medicine doctors recently published an opinion piece in the JAMA Pediatrics journal that sheds new light on the debate over trans athletes.
Think of the Kids
There is a fundamental concern for children that is not being addressed in these cases, say the doctors.
Activity Is Critical
The paper stresses that physical activity is important to the mental health and educational outcomes of school-age kids.
They point to several studies to support their claims.
Sports as Birth Control?
They say being active even helps kids stay in school, lowers the risk for disease, and makes unwanted pregnancy less likely.
Don’t Just Sit There
The reverse is true, too, say the researchers.
Children who are less active tend to be at a higher risk for all of those maladies, and especially for poor physical and mental health.
They Have a Warning
Given all the evidence and the mounting backlash against young transgender athletes, pediatric researchers have a warning for society.
Bans Are a Health Risk
In particular, the group says that bans on transgender sports participation could lead to the “lasting deterioration of the physical and mental health of this at-risk population.”
They’re Already in Jeopardy
The paper also points out that trans athletes, and trans students in general, already fall into that “at-risk” category, even without the bans.
They Don’t Feel Comfortable
In general, trans youth participate in sports at a lower rate than their cis counterparts, the paper says.
They cite social pressure and the lack of locker room privacy as major reasons for that.
Compounded Health Troubles
That already puts trans kids at a disadvantage when it comes to getting the physical activity they need.
The restrictions on athletic participation only compound the troubles.
A Place to Belong
Alexander Sin, a researcher in sports medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and one of the paper’s co-authors, says sports also offers a chance for trans youth to find a place they belong.
Winning Isn’t Everything
“Is it that we have more kids playing and allow kids to play, or does it matter who gets a medal at a third-grade competition?” Sin asks.
The Answers Are Critical
At this point, it probably still depends on who you ask. And there could be health consequences for the kids who have to live by the answer.
The post Physicians Warn of Potential Health Risks for Transgender Youth Amidst Sports Ban Debate first appeared on Mama Say What?!
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pavel1964. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.