“What Is Fairness?” – Researchers Advocate for Inclusion of Trans Kids in Sports for their Mental Health

Doctors have argued that trans kids should be allowed to compete in school sports, arguing that competition is not as important as participation itself.

The question of transgender athletes participating in school and college sports rages on, igniting a fierce debate on inclusivity and fairness.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s June legislation marked a turning point, placing restrictions on transgender college athletes and sparking a wave of similar bans across the nation.

A Focus on Well-Being Over Competition

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, believe in the transformative power of sports, advocating for transgender youths to participate, citing numerous benefits, including enhanced mental health and self-esteem.

Dr. Alexander Sin, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center voice, advocated for a perspective shift. He told of the importance of focusing on the well-being of the children involved, urging a move away from political debates, “We are thinking about kids here,” he exclaimed.

“What Is Fairness?”

Dr. Sin questioned the emphasis on competition at an early age, particularly in kindergarten, wondering why we can’t let children express gender identity. “How competitive is kindergarten? And why do we care if there is this little boy who is assigned as female at birth, who wants to play as a boy? What is fairness?”

In a world where acceptance is paramount, transgender youth strive to be a part of their chosen communities, “They’re trying to build a community and trying to fit in. The LGBTQ population is already told that they’re ‘other’ and they’re different.” Dr Sin said.

Association Between Being LGBTQ+ and Mental Health Issues

Dr. Sin delved into the mental health aspect, “We don’t know if that causes the higher risk of having mental health issues, but we do see an association between being LGBTQ+ and having mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and high suicidal risk overall.”

He advocated for using sports as a positive outlet for these youths, “We also know that sports activities for children are important for development, as it can affect their confidence as they find their tribe and their friends.”

Sports offer vital growth opportunities for youth, impacting their confidence, friendships, and physical health.

Sports as “a Part of Growth and Maturation”

Dr. Sin insisted on providing these benefits to transgender youth as well, ensuring that they have the same opportunities for personal growth.

Beyond the realm of athleticism, sports contribute to societal solutions, playing a crucial role in reducing teenage pregnancy and school dropouts.

Dr Sin also argued that kids will mature with access to shared sports, “To share experiences with everyone else is a part of growth and maturation. It’s also shown to be beneficial to things like their physical health.” 

Competition vs. Opportunity

Is it about medals in competitions or ensuring more children have the opportunity to participate and grow through sports? Let us know your thoughts.

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