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Transgender Athletes Who Are Changing Sports History

The visibility of many trans women and trans men leads us to think of all those people of non-binary genders who have excelled in many sports.

The Woman Post | Ariel Cipolla

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We are in a time of change. The truth is that thanks to the visibility generated by the social struggle for the rights of trans women and men, we have seen how more and more people have been able to incorporate themselves into systems historically dominated by cisgender people.

For example, it recently became known that the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games will have the first transgender athlete to compete. This is Laurel Hubbard, a 43-year-old woman who is one of the best athletes in the 87kg female weightlifting competition, something that happened thanks to the changes that occurred in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Basically, in 2015 they changed the rules to allow transgender athletes to compete as women if their testosterone levels are below the maximum requested, a decision that generated controversy since, for their discipline, it may have a certain "biological advantage."

Given this case that marked a before and after in sports and the visibility of transgender people, we decided to look for other cases of similar athletes. Let's see more!

Tiffany Abreu

We begin with a well-known sport: Volleyball. Tiffany Abreu is a Brazilian woman who, at the age of 36, marked a before and after in the Brazilian Superliga. In 2017, she became the first transgender player in the sport when she debuted with the Volei Bauru jersey.

She was even characterized as the "most valuable player" on her debut, something she had also achieved on two occasions, albeit playing for men's leagues. Abreu had played like a man in leagues in Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, and Indonesia until she retired in 2012 to become a woman.

She underwent hormone treatment to change her blood testosterone levels, underwent a sex-change operation, and began the process of becoming a woman in all documents. From there, she was cleared in 2017 by the International Volleyball Federation.

Mara Gómez

We move on to Argentina, where Mara Gómez became a paradigmatic case. Aged 24, she is a soccer player who plays as a forward for Club Atletico Villa San Carlos, in Argentina's First Women's Division. That is, she became the first transgender woman to be accepted in this competition.

In a match against Lanús in 2017, she marked a before and after in Argentine soccer. When she turned 18, thanks to the Gender Identity Law, Mara Gómez obtained her female ID and legally became a woman. From that moment on, she knew she wanted to pursue her career as a professional athlete.

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This allowed her to play women's soccer, although she must present hormonal studies that prove that her testosterone is below the International Olympic Committee (IOC) limits of about 10 nmol/L. In any case, she will be looking to surprise soccer fans all over Argentina with her talent.

Renée Richards

Here we start talking about tennis. We are not referring to an active tennis player, but to one who set a precedent for the emergence of transsexual tennis players. Renée Richards was the first transsexual woman in the history of the sport. She started in the U.S. Navy in 1963, intending to pursue the profession.

At the same time that she was in the military and practiced as an ophthalmologist, Richard Raskind (her former name) underwent a sex change treatment, albeit clandestinely. Her hobby was tennis, but she had to give it up until 1976 when she started competing in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) women's circuit.

That year she won the La Jolla tournament, although part of the society did not accept her. When she decided to join the 1977 US Open, the Tennis Federation requested a chromosome analysis, which she refused. The courts ruled in her favor and allowed her to play tournaments. She retired in 1981, at the age of 47, and her story was an important one for trans people in sport.

Fallon Fox

Finally, we turn to MMA. Fallon Fox is the first transgender in the history of this professional sport, where she managed to obtain a 5-1 record. Her beginnings were not easy: she was criticized for having an alleged biological advantage over other women, especially with her bone structure.

For example, this could be seen in 2014, when she broke the skull in just 5 minutes to her rival, Tamikka Brents, demonstrating enormous power. Despite these controversies, her career was quite short, since she declared herself transgender in March 2013 and her last fight was in September 2014, precisely against Brents.

We hope you like all these stories of transgender people in sports!