Transgender Athletes

The rights of transgender people are under constant scrutiny in recent times. There seem to be two distinct sides to the argument, both sides hotly arguing their points of view.

Now we have transgender people competing in sport. This has created even further debate as many transgender women seem to have an advantage in many sport competitions.

This is a great topic for an English or ESL class. It can create a lot of discussion and debate. 

Give this free lesson plan a try in your class today. If you like the lesson you can download the books for free.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

 


 

Introduction

 

What does the word ‘transgender’ mean?

If they compete in athletic competitions, whose side should they be on? Men or women? Why?

 

Reading

 

In the last few years, there has been much discussion and debate over transgenderism.

Men who feel trapped in a man’s body — but who really identify as a woman. Or a woman believing her female body is not her true form, that she is really a man.

This has been hotly argued between those that believe in transgenderism and those that don’t.

Some have come out online, in blogs or in videos, denouncing their masculine or feminine body and telling the world they are really a woman or a man.

One area where this has caused some deeper conversation is in sport.

We now have many transgender athletes competing in world-class events. In the case of men who are transitioning to women, this has caused the most discussion.

In the sport of wrestling, there are now transgender women — men transitioning into women — competing against women. These transgender women win in competitions and many argue that the reason they are winning is that they are really men and not women.

A female wrestling athlete, who competed against one such transgender woman, said it felt like a train had hit her. The transgender woman athlete was far superior in terms of speed and sheer strength.

This transgender athlete has won many bouts since coming out.

We also have the transgender woman cyclist who competed in a woman’s cycling event — and won.

On the podium, as the cyclists accept their medals, you can see the transgender cyclist standing much taller than the other two women. Her legs are muscular and she appears much stronger than the two women athletes.

Then there are the trans athletes in running competitions. They competed against all female competitors — and won. There is also the trans weight-lifter competing against women.

For the trans community, this is a victory. Trans people are seen as being accepted and part of the community. It is a bold step forward.

But for many others, it is seen as grossly unfair. The transgender women athletes essentially have male bodies. They are physically stronger and taller. With more powerful legs and other physical attributes that put them at a distinct advantage.

Professional athletes have voiced their concerns over this. They have sympathy for the trans movement but want all sports to have a level playing field. If women are competing against transgender women what chance do they have of winning? Very little it would seem.

This puts the authorities that manage these sporting events in a very difficult position. On the one hand, they want the sports to be fair. But on the other hand, they also want the events to be seen as all-inclusive.

The debate continues — but who will win?

 

Essential Vocabulary

 

debate

transgenderism

trapped

identify

true form

hotly argued

come out

denouncing

world class

transitioning

wrestling

far superior

bouts

cyclist

cycling

podium

medals

muscular

weight-lifter

victory

bold

grossly unfair

attributes

distinct advantage

to voice

level playing field

all inclusive

 

Exercise

 

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebook—a small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”

 

Questions

 

  1. Do you think it is fair for transgender women to compete against women in sport? Which sports do you think it is unfair? Which sports are fair?
  1. What about transgender men competing against men?
  1. Is this continues what do you think will happen to female sporting events? To female sports teams? Tell the class your thoughts.
  1. Do you have any transgender athletes in your country? Why/why not?
  1. What should happen to transgender athletes? Where can they compete with others?
  1. Is it said that the trans community represents a tiny percentage of the community. Are we placing too much importance on the trans movement? Or not enough? What needs to be done?
  1. What are your thoughts on transgender people in general? Do you think this is a real concern? Separate into different groups and voice your opinions and thoughts with the class. Give clear reasons for your thoughts.
  1. Do you know — or have you ever met — any transgender people?
  1. Is it possible for other animals to be transgender? If it is just humans, why only us? Why not other animals?
  1. Do you think all people are a little of the opposite sex psychologically? How about you? Or in what way are people a little like men or women?

 

Teacher’s Notes

 

This topic could raise some eyebrows in your class. Some countries have a long history of transgender culture and beliefs so for these students the topic may be nothing new to them.

But for many other students the subject could be strange to them. Ideally, you should try and show some pictures or videos in the class if you can. Transgender athletes competing in their chosen sport would help the class greatly.


I hope this lesson was of some use to you in your English class. Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


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4 thoughts on “Transgender Athletes”

  1. This is a very important and current topic especially in relation to professional athletes. My view is also that it is unfair (as you mentioned). It gives those who ‘were’ males an unfair advantage in female sports and competitions where prizes and metals are being won. I have to smile as I think it could be an indirect way for male supremacy to dominate the female world! Interesting!

    1. It is indeed a very tricky subject. We have to be sensitive to all concerned but we also have to be fair. So how to deal with it?

  2. It’s a catch 22 because of ‘political correctness’. We could establish a rule that ‘now’ transgender females may not compete because they are stronger. Or we could establish a new category for the competition but that would mean the ladies have to ‘come out’ and declare that they are transgender. Or maybe ‘handicapping’ like they do in horse races to equal out the advantages. It is a problem that doesn’t have an easy solution. Perhaps there should be a ‘new’ sex category.

    1. Political correctness wants to please everybody and ensure that not one single person is offended. This seems like an impossible ideal to me.

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