Transgender refers to people whose gender identity does not conform to the sex associated with them at birth. In particular, gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue. The IOC guidelines for trans athletes have been postponed until 2022. This is three years later than originally planned.

Reasons for this delay are conflicting opinions in drafting the framework. Critics say trans female athletes have an unfair advantage. Actually, much higher levels of testosterone produced by males from puberty onwards give males greater strength and power than females. Hence, giving trans women athletes an advantage.

Meanwhile, others are calling out for inclusion in sports games. More so, people must participate in any sports using the gender they identify themselves with. All in all, sports require a balance between human rights and fairness. Thus, Real Research sought to know what the public thinks about this matter.


● 65.11% of the respondents agree that trans women athletes should compete in women’s sports. Similarly, 65.77% agree that trans male athletes should be part of men’s sports.
● Testosterone one levels give trans women an advantage over the cisgender in sports.
● The biggest challenge faced by trans women is discrimination says 36.09%.
● 42.82% state that when women compete in women’s sports it becomes ‘Unisex sports’.

The Fight for Fairness in Sports for Trans Women and Trans Men

The fight for trans women athletes to compete in women’s sports is ongoing. Similarly, the battle for trans men to compete in men’s sports is also ablaze. In detail, transgender activists are advocating for fairness and inclusion in sports. Some trans athletes have been outed and harassed online by people who oppose transgender athletes competing.

Thus, the Real Research online survey application sought to learn what the public thinks about trans athletes. To begin with, are the respondents familiar with the term transgender? 59.75% said ‘Yes’, and 10.33% say ‘I am somewhat familiar with the term’. On the other hand, 12.79% state that ‘I am not familiar with the term’. Lastly, 17.13% have never heard of the term.

Figure 1: Nearly 60% are aware of the term ‘Transgender’

Should transgender athletes compete in women’s sports is a question that has brought so much debate amongst sports authorities. The current rules lay out certain conditions for trans women to compete in women’s sports. Initially, the IOC says if their testosterone levels are suppressed for 12 months they can compete. However, this has caused a lot of controversy among those who believe that transgender athletes in women’s sports cause sports inequality.

Aside from the ongoing disputes, 65.11% agree that transgender athletes in women’s sports should compete with the cisgender. Likewise, 65.77% also agree that transgender male athletes can compete with cisgender men.

Figure 2: Trans female athletes must compete in women sports

Trans athletes have for so long tried to raise visibility to be able to participate freely in various supporting activities. Sometimes, instead of he/she pronouns, trans athletes prefer the use of they/them pronouns. It is only recently in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that most trans athletes competed in various sports.

Firstly, Quinn is the first openly transgender athlete to participate as a midfielder for the Canadian women’s soccer team. Then, Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman in weightlifting representing New Zealand. Also, Chelsea Wolfe, a transgender cyclist, played for the U.S. women’s BMX Freestyle team.

Read Also: LGBTQ Discrimination: 31% Believes Enacting a Law Matters

Through the Real Research online survey application, respondents gave their thoughts on testosterone issues in sports. 40.35% think that testosterone levels are ‘Highly likely’ to give an advantage to trans athletes. Somewhat likely (16.08%), somewhat unlikely (4.77%), and highly unlikely (3.98%).

Figure 3: High testosterone is likely to give an advantage to trans athletes

In most countries, the fight for trans athletes to compete in women’s sports continues. According to the results, 39.72% say ‘Yes they are allowed’. Secondly, 13.37% ‘They are not allowed’. It depends on the type of sport (6.43%), and it depends on the sports team and the management (4.28%). Meanwhile, 36.21% say they do not know.

Discrimination Is the Biggest Challenge Faced by Trans Athletes

There are numerous challenges that trans female or even trans male athletes face in the sports industry. Some may ask do transgender athletes have an unfair advantage in sports? Issues such as discrimination, haterade, and so much more plague them. These would counter the accusation of having an unfair advantage towards trans athletes.

To begin with, the biggest challenges faced are discrimination by perception against trans women (36.09%). Anxiety from lack of acceptance (13.44%), and lack of support from parents, team members, or guardians (7.76%). Additionally, they are also marginalized by other team members (5.66%).

The petition to stop discrimination against trans athletes in sports is ongoing. Specifically, the connection between sports and human rights is complex and often contradictory. In fact, the right to participate in sport is underpinned by the right to be free from discrimination on grounds of sex, gender, etc. Hence, there is a need to be inclusive.

Figure 4. The biggest challenge mostly faced by trans athletes is discrimination

Also, the issue of changing sports facilities has caused a lot of controversies as well. Some say trans women should have their own changing facilities. On the other hand, they identify themselves as women and they request to be among other women in sports facilities.

Regrading changing in the same sports facilities, (40.59%) say ‘Yes, they are all women’. No, trans women should have their own facilities (16.30%). No, trans women should use the male facilities unless after surgery (5.90%). Lastly, I am not sure (37.21%).

Read Also: Over 51% Think FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar Could be Cancelled if Covid-19 Persists

Women Sports With Trans Women in Participation are ‘Unisex Sports’

As much as there is a call for inclusivity, others say sports with trans women athletes cease to be women sports. It is now called unisex sports. In particular, Trans rights should not come at the expense of hard-working female athletes. Some media outlets have even chanted narratives about the unfairness.

42.82% ‘Highly agree’ with the statement that they become unisex sports. 3.94% ‘Somewhat agree’ and 26.82% are ‘Neutral’. On another note, 5.85% ‘Somewhat disagree’ and 10.58% ‘Highly disagree’.

The Olympics transgender rules state that as long as their hormones are suppressed they qualify to be in women’s sports. However, the argument is even with hormone therapy, trans women still benefit from numerous traits. This includes stronger muscles, bigger lungs, and more red blood cells.

Figure 5: 42.82% ‘highly agree’ with the statement

As transgender people fight for their basic civil liberties globally, some countries have passed some form of legislation recognizing their rights. Does your country have policies that permit and protect transgender athletes to play on teams that match their gender identity? ‘Yes’ (44.58%), ‘No’ (13.14%), and ‘I am not sure’ (42.28%).

In conclusion, few countries are taking a progressive approach toward gender recognition reform. Probably in the near future, the IOC would have an updated framework regarding transgender athletes.


Survey TitlePublic Opinion on Transgender Women Athletes Competing in Women Sports
DurationSeptember 27 – October 04, 2021
Number of Participants40,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating CountriesAfghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.