I don’t expect you to understand me or the reasons that brought me to where I am today.
Hell, I didn’t understand it for most of my 70 years.
Head doctors wrestle with it and other people with medical degrees of a different stripe aren’t certain what to make of it, either.
But here’s something you should understand: There’s nothing to fear.
I’m not a threat to your way of life, your religion, your job, your children, your family pet, your home or the company you keep. I won’t let my pooch poop on your lawn without scooping up the leavings in a doggy bag, I won’t park in your handicap spot, and I won’t crank up my music so loud that you can’t sleep at night, whether I’m playing Sinatra, Streisand or Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
I don’t know any transgender individual who thinks differently, the possible exception being Caitlyn Jenner, who’s actually more of a menace to the trans community than the general population.
In return, I ask just one thing: Don’t exclude me.
Don’t tell me I can’t live in your apartment building. Don’t tell me I can’t be your co-worker. Don’t tell me I can’t kneel in your temple. Don’t tell me I can’t break bread and drink in your local watering hole. Don’t tell me I can’t shop at your market. Don’t tell me I can’t join your slo-pitch team.
In short, don’t tell me I don’t belong.
Yet this is what’s happening today, most notably in the United States, where numerous politicos of a sharp conservative tilt have mounted a crusade to prevent transgender females from sharing the playing fields of the nation with cisgender girls and women.
The anti-transgender constituency talks like there exists a sizable squadron of very large, very hairy, ape-ish men just waiting to dab on a little lipstick and mascara, convinced that’s the surest route to the top step of an Olympic Games medal podium, whereupon they can look down on their cisgender opponents, vanquished and lying in tattered ruins at the side of the track.
“It’s unfair,” goes their rallying cry.
Except there’s no evidence to support any notion that a male-to-female transition has ever made someone a superior athlete.
Let me tell you something about a male-to-female transition.
When I started taking hormones, the top of my head was five feet, 6.5 inches above the ground. Today it’s 1.5 inches closer to the ground. I was 138 pounds at the outset and soon dropped to 129, just one serving of chicken and dumplings heavier than my playing weight at age 18.
I was in my fifties and worked as a cleaner at a nightclub at the time, and had no difficulty with the heavy grunt work, easily hauling hefty bags of garbage up two flights of stairs to the dumpster and casually swishing a sopping-wet mop across the sticky, syrupy floors. In short order, however, I often couldn’t pull the garbage bags out of the bins, let alone lug them upstairs, and that chore became part of the barman’s duties. The wet mop, meanwhile, soon felt like it was attached to an ATM machine.
Trust me when I tell you hormones and the dramatic drop in testosterone levels are an energy and strength-siphoning bit of business.
For example, I was skilled enough to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League at age 18. Yet had I transitioned then, there was scant chance I would have been physically capable of competing with testosterone-fueled boys/young men aged 16 to 20. Actually, forget scant chance. Based on my transition experience, it simply would not have been doable, except perhaps in my mind.
The alternative, of course, would have been to join a female league, except they were non-existent back then. They exist today.
Jessica Platt was permitted to suit up with the Toronto Furies of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, and her on-ice impact was negligible, with just two goals and three points in 49 games. Unfairness wasn’t an issue. There was nothing to fear.
Is it possible for a transgender female to come along and dominate her sport? Absolutely. Just as tall females dominate, just as big-boned females dominate, just as females with above-normal testosterone readings (see: Semenya, Caster) dominate, just as females with big feet and wide wing spans dominate. It’s never been one-size-fits-all on the playground, and never will be.
That applies to life.
Being transgender shouldn’t disqualify any girl/woman or boy/man from her/his pursuits, nor should it cloud anyone’s judgement and become a roadblock.
Again, leaning into my lived experience to provide an e.g., when I was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Writers & Sportscasters Roll of Honour the group’s president, Ted Wyman, informed me that my gender “wasn’t an issue. It never came up in our discussion.” They let me know that my body of work indicated that I belonged, and I applauded them for that. Still do.
And isn’t that something we all seek? Acceptance and belonging?
So let the girls belong and play.