Trans Athletes and Fairness to Women

Reflections on the 2023 Creating Change Conference, part three

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Trans advocate Kayley Whalen stands and speaks into a microphone while giving a presentation on trans athletes, while three seated panelists look on. The slide on the screen has text reading “Strategic Communication for Trans Inclusion in Sports”, “Whose Athletic Opportunities Matter?” “Soule et al. v. Connecticut Association of Schools et al”, a photo of athletes Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, a photo of athlete Selina Soule, and the logos of the ACLU and Alliance Defending Freedom.
Trans advocate Kayley Whalen gives a presentation on trans inclusion in sports, alongside fellow panelists Shaira Chaer, Lex Horwitz, and Jess St. Louis. Photo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Pax Ahimsa Gethen.

This post is part three of a series of reflections on the 2023 Creating Change Conference. For part one, see “Mixed-Race and Rootless”. For part two, see “Accessibility, Ableism, and Accommodations”. For part four, see Trans Takeover at Creating Change.

At the Creating Change Conference, one of the sessions I was most looking forward to attending was on trans inclusion in sports. I was familiar with two of the scheduled presenters, trans athletes Fallon Fox and Chris Mosier, from the news, and I knew another presenter, trans activist and journalist Karleigh Chardonnay Merlot, through social media.

So I was disappointed to find out only after the session started that none of these scheduled presenters had actually made it to the conference. One of them was sick, but the others had difficulty getting funding to attend. Trans advocate Kayley Whalen explained and complained about this, saying that these trans folks did not get the support from the conference organizers that they needed and deserved, but they were still going to hold the workshop with alternate presenters.

Neither the conference website nor app were updated to reflect these changes to the panel. The lack of support for trans presenters and attendees would come up again at the closing plenary later that afternoon. I’ll write about that in my next (and final) entry in this blog series.

Regardless, it was a very good session, with Kayley Whalen, Lex P’er Horwitz, and ReFrame strategists Shaira Chaer and Jess St. Louis participating. They reviewed the controversy over trans athletes (women, in particular) competing alongside cis athletes of the same genders, and offered strategies on countering transphobic and misleading rhetoric shared by the media and lawmakers.

During the Q&A, I mentioned that I was a “former and hopefully future” amateur runner, and that I was glad more official races were allowing folks like myself to compete as non-binary. I also attempted to make a supportive comment about women athletes, but it didn’t come out very well. So below, I will expand upon what I intended to say.

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch