Sports

Sport Thought: Behind the pace in race for a solution to trans issue

But this week I had an uncomfortable wake-up call when New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard prepared to compete in the 90-plus kilogram finals at the Commonwealth Games. Its a testament to the onslaught Hubbard received online that the elbow injury sustained during her attempt at gold appeared nowhere near as painful as the insipid and deeply derogatory commentary that was doled out in the lead-up to the event.

Amid all this noise, I noticed Miller on social media, wading into the thick of the debate. Naturally, she was in Hubbard's corner. But Miller was also calling out many of Hubbard's supporters, including the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive, David Grevemberg. For a while, I couldnt understand why. Surely Hubbard's presence in the Games was a positive? Wasnt this exactly what Miller had fought for?

But Ive since learnt there is a much wider conversation regarding inclusion going on, and in Miller's eyes, many have their facts entirely wrong.

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Since the IOCs November 2015 Consensus on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism, sporting bodies around the world have determined that an athlete must demonstrate her total testosterone level is below 10 nanomoles per litre of blood for at least 12 months prior to her first competition. Miller, however, says this guideline is flawed on many levels. In her experience, she said she had a clear physical advantage over her cis female competitors for much longer than 12 months, despite meeting the 10nmol/L requirements.

Furthermore, she said the IOCs recommended 10nmol/L rule as an accurate measurement for sex is not only unsupported by science, but can also cause XY females long-term health complications.

She said she now suffers from osteoporosis as a result of complying with these guidelines. She also referred me to the case of cyclist Kristen Worley, who last year won a human rights case in Canada.

In July 2017, the courts supported Worleys view that Cycling Canada, the Ontario Cycling Association and the International Cycling Union had violated Worley's human rights by upholding IOC guidelines and failing to take into account her health status and hormonal requirements as an XY woman.

As a result, Cycling Canada and the OCA agreed to advocate for the establishment of standards and guidelines related to XY female athletes based on objective scientific research, and review and revise internal policies to embrace human rights.

After several conversations with Miller, and many hours of reading, I realised Id fallen far behind in a conversation that is fast evolving, and I needed to do more to stay informed beyond simply having an opinion.

That said, I was more confused than ever about an actual solution. If testosterone regulation isnt the answer, how do we reach a point where everyone, regardless of gender, can be included in fair sport?

Miller said the direction of global sport “will involve having one gender policy for all women, no matter their chromosomal make-up. Sport will start from the point that everyone is accepted, and they are only denied the right to compete if they have a proven unnatural advantage”.

She also saw merit in some sports following the Paralympic model, which separates athletes based on ability and physical attributes. Or even the precedent established in some local levels of Australian cycling, where self-identification is the only prerequisite for participation. But she doesnt suggest this method would work for high-impact sports “because were not just talking about winning, but the health and safety of all participants”.

Its a lot to think about. But while – on a global scale – activists, scientists and sports administrators still have their work cut out, we must acknowledge small victories. Miller is back playing footy in her new hometown of Broken Hill – a town she thinks is the safest place for any transgendered person in the world to live.

It may have taken years of perseverance, but she has finally been welcomed into the community, and believes that through sport, an entire generation of beliefs has been diversified. Her triumph is remarkable.

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