Caitlyn Jenner: ‘Everybody deserves an opportunity to compete in sports’

10th Annual Face Forward Gala

Caitlyn Jenner has been doing some press around the five-year anniversary of her “transgender coming out” interviews lately. It’s been fascinating, honestly, because as much as people dislike Caitlyn – and yes, she is deeply unlikeable – I have a lot of hate-respect for her. She really did manage to completely change conversations around transgender people and trans rights. Having such a big-name celebrity transition pretty much in front of the world “made it real” for a lot of people. So I’ll always respect Caitlyn for that, even if I also think that she’s a batty, hypocritical Republican a–hole. Caitlyn gave an interview to Women’s Health – it’s written as a first-person essay, but they just transcribed Caitlyn talking about sports, the Olympics, transgender athletes and more – you can read the piece here. Some highlights:

When she trained to be an Olympian: “During my Olympic training, I was so far away from Caitlyn. I honestly just ignored my gender issues the best I could. But it was always present. ​When you suffer from gender dysphoria, it’s not something you can take two aspirin for, get plenty of sleep, wake up the next morning, and everything’s fine. You’re just kind of stuck with it. I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t know what was going on with me.

But her struggles made her a champion: “It was also my dyslexia and gender issues that made me an Olympic champion. I channeled my struggles to drive and push me. Now, I see those issues as my gift. Whether that’s family issues or identity issues or a learning disability, the quality of your life is going to be determined by how you deal with those obstacles. The key is to use it to push you forward.

Transgender athletes in competition: “I think everybody deserves an opportunity to compete in sports, no matter who you are, no matter what your identity. Sports is a great place for young people to get to know themselves, and to learn about winning, losing, hard work, and dedication. While there’s a lot of progress that needs to be made, I think the Olympics committee is way ahead of the rest of the sports world when it comes to trans athletes because they’ve been grappling with hormone use issues in athletes for a long time that have forced them to develop clear policies for athletes. Over the last 15 to 20 years, the IOC has done a lot of research on these issues. I think they’ve done just about as good of a job as you can do. In the future, I think more sports organizations are going to have to find a way to accept trans athletes, too. We have certainly come a long way in the past 20 to 30 years, but we still have a ways to go.

An athlete should decide in their own time how to deal with coming out: I think every athlete has to contemplate coming out on an individual basis—every situation is different and every individual has to do what’s best for them. When I was young, I felt I couldn’t do anything about my gender dysphoria. Back then, I could never have envisioned a future for myself as happy as I am now… I never thought that someday I would be able to live my life authentically, I thought I’d just have to deal with my identity my whole life.

[From Women’s Health]

I wonder if Caitlyn reads Malcolm Gladwell? Gladwell spoke about some of these issues in Outliers and David and Goliath, as he studied why certain people are successful in their chosen fields, and how often the most successful people have had to deal with some socio-economic hardship, or a life-long learning disability or some secret involving their sexuality or gender identity. The point Gladwell made was that it’s almost like what made those people “outliers” eventually drove them to succeed. Of course, it’s not a perfect theory or anything like that.

I actually sort of liked what Caitlyn says about the importance of sports for all kids, and what competitive sports can teach everyone, and that everyone has a right to play. While I don’t think the IOC is actually making the best decisions right now about trans athletes, I think that like everything else involving trans issues, there’s a steep learning curve. I do think that in ten to fifteen years transgender athletes will be able to compete in certain sports openly.

25th National Television Awards,

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

13 Responses to “Caitlyn Jenner: ‘Everybody deserves an opportunity to compete in sports’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Mrs. Peel says:

    Male to female trans athletes should not be able to compete in the female competitive arena – they are physically stronger by birth so are automatically given an advantage.

    • Lamontagne says:

      And yet, every time I say this I get called a TERF. I agree with you wholeheartedly – MtF are physically stronger by design, and it’s not their fault. There’s nothing to be done about this, but we can’t deny that letting them compete with cis female athletes will skew the results – and incidentally be hurtful to female sports in general. The real question is what can we do to allow both trans and cis athletes to complete? Create a special category? Wouldn’t that lead to discrimination of some kind? And there’s also the fact that the number of trans athletes is lower, so it wouldn’t be sustainable to have them compete among themselves.

      Honestly it’s such a tricky question and no alternative is remotely pleasing.

      • not a fan of caitlyn says:

        You are both TERFs, congratulations! Please read about how estrogen affects muscle mass.

    • Dear Abby says:

      Hormone Replacement Therapy not only affects muscle mass, as “not a fan of caitlyn” said, it also affects bone density.

      If a transgender woman is on HRT, there’s no reason for her not to compete with other women whether they’re cis or not.

      • Lamontagne says:

        I know how HRT works, I could do without your condescension, Not a fan of Caitlin. I’ve also seen and read about a trans athlete competing with cis women and literally not breaking a sweat while bulldozing through her race and destroying the previous time record. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and while I’m immensely happy for trans visibility, I won’t deny that there is a discussion to be had about females (cis and trans) athletes and how to accommodate everybody. I won’t stand to be silenced either. This really needs to be discussed; so take your condescending tone elsewhere.

    • LeiDub311 says:

      Agree whole heartedly. They will have an advantage.

  2. Lizzie Bathory says:

    I was an “indoor kid” growing up (lol) & think Caitlyn is an asshole, but I really appreciate the significance of her transition & highlighting the issue of allowing trans athletes to compete in their sports. Honestly, the best thing is probably to de-stigmatize transitioning & to make sure trans kids are appropriately supported (including with hormone treatments) when they decide they’re ready to transition. Hopefully that will happen more & more so fewer people have to struggle like Caitlyn did for a long time.

  3. Turtle says:

    They do have a right to compete.
    Against equally matched participants.

    • Geeena says:

      YES! THIS!!!!! I actually think it’s brilliant Caitlyn pointed out the Olympic committee has the longest history and experience on the subject of hormone levels, and that they could be a leader in how trans athletes are accomodated

  4. CuriousCole says:

    I have a sincere question I’m hoping someone can help me with. What is the proper way to reference Caitlyn’s Olympic accomplishments? Example: is it “Bruce Jenner’s win or medal” because that’s the name she had at the time of the Olympics/ the name that’s historically recorded or is it “Caitlyn’s medals”?

    • Dear Abby says:

      IMO, it should be treated the same as if a cis person had changed their name. If I’m cis and my name is Joe and a few years later I change it to Steve, you would be saying “Steve’s medals” to avoid confusion and, well, because that’d be my current name.

      I guess you could say “Caitlyn’s medals, which she won while going by Bruce”, but it reads as so unnecessary, honestly.

  5. Dear Abby says:

    I was just reading an article on this. Not on trans athletes specifically, but on the at times severe difference between athletes when it comes to hormones and how that affects competition.

    This isn’t a transgender issue. It happens amongst cis people as well. Some cis athletes have natural advantages over their cis peers and it is time to have this discussion. Curious how it is always brought up just to swing the “trans women aren’t actually women” transmisogynist banner.

  6. Aidevee says:

    Question for NotAFanOfCaitlyn-

    Why be so patronising? Why does the poster need to be congratulated? Can you not just politely point the way towards some research you’ve heard of and leave it at that?
    Trans issues are complicated and really difficult for a lot of people and it’s great that everyone is grappling with this topic so that we can all move forward. Insulting people and trying to make them feel stupid, backward and small isn’t the way to win them over to your cause.