Hi, my name is Amber. My pronouns are she, her, hers. Today as I was going to sit down to write this post in the best way I saw a running meme come across my news feed. It read, “Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants you to keep going.” This happens to all of us when we are running. We go from, “I hate this. Why am I torturing myself,” to when we finish, “Yes! I did it! Let’s go do it again!”
Funny right? Yes you can laugh. Because at some point whether we are running for the first time ever, the 100th time, or a career veteran we all have those thoughts at some point. We all know that we do.
I bring this quote in because we all feel this way no matter who we are. It happens no matter our race, gender, gender identity, fitness level, sexual orientation, disabled, or able bodied those arguments we have while we are running happen regardless.
When we as runners line up at the start line who is next to us? Our partner? Our sister? Our brother? Our mom? Our dad? Someone we don’t know that we might introduce ourselves then quickly say, “Good luck, see you at the finish line. Get it!”. Yes, this goes to show that all of us at a starting line no matter how we are all different are human.
We all want the same thing, to cross the finish line. In reality who we all individually identify ourselves as has little meaning as a collective for the sake of society.
Each of us set goals for ourselves in that race. We want a specific outcome. So in a race each of us runs our own race for our goals. Our expectations for what we want. It doesn’t matter much on the competition against others but more the competition within ourselves to strive to be the best we can.
Other runners around us individually are doing the same as you. This is where respect and acceptance comes into place for our community. We are a family. We are just like siblings? Would you tell your sibling, “No, you can’t do that!” Of course you wouldn’t!
So let me ask you a question, are you supporting your running family around you no matter who the person identifies as? Are you cheering them on? Are you giving them hi fives? A smile? A wave? Go back and run with those that are slower to help encourage them on the way to the finish. You just might learn a bit about their story, strength, goals and their life. You might make a new friend.
If you aren’t doing these things to make a positive impact on our community then ask yourself what are you doing and creating? Are you supportive or are you dividing our community even further? If you aren’t fully supportive then I would like you to look deep inside of yourself asking yourself why? Only you can answer that.
Why do I mention this? In running groups and in media the trans athletes around us are not always understood and are being excluded from sports.
Trans women like myself are being told that we don’t belong in women sports. We are being kicked out or removed and told we can’t compete.
One myth that I see a lot that bars trans women from sports is that trans women competing as a woman against cisgender women (women who identify as they were assigned at birth) creates an unfair advantage for cis women.
With just one year and most times less than that HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) makes an impact on the person who is on hormones. HRT is a combination of a testosterone (T) blocker, and estrogen. The combination described changes the body chemistry of the person completely. Having that body chemistry change it affects athletic ability.
T blockers stop /slow the production of testosterone in the body lower the level that is in the body thereafter. They bring the T level of that person down into a female level and in fact sometimes for some way less than a cis woman’s T level.
HRT lowers hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen helps muscles function and perform. The more oxygen the more athletic performance that will be capable. It lowers the blood count of the person.
Along with muscles, HRT causes the person to lose muscle mass. Decreasing muscle mass quickly too. Then being on HRT muscle mass will not be easily created.
All of the changes made with the body and more that aren’t mentioned all will dramatically lower the time of a trans athlete specifically trans women in which I’m speaking of.
Trans women yes, still may have their bigger frame but they have to navigate that bigger frame with a lot less than before. It’s like having a fancy sports car with a big engine in it and then when changes are made what is under the hood of that big fancy sports car now has a smaller engine and specs to make it move and perform properly.
Trans women, training for running, will never gain back everything they lose due to HRT. Trans women in fact have to work much harder to even match cis women in sports.
Let me end this blog by saying this one statement: Trans women are women. They are women no matter how they were born. Trans women like myself are women and it is my belief that we should have all the rights in the world to compete as women against women. We don’t need a separate category to compete and we will not compete with men because we are not men.
In the last 3 years of my running where I have been competing as a woman I have only took one top 5 in my age group. The rest of the races I have been far behind my women counterparts not even close to placing.
Let’s work together to support trans women like myself in sports. Let’s end the bands that are being placed on us and especially our trans youth who want to play sports. Lets all make sure that we all meet our goals individually when crossing the finish line. Lets cheer one another on and not divide. Now is the time to move to create an inclusive environment.
As a practicing Nichiren Buddhist my dedication to my life is to be a voice for others. A voice that speaks of humanity. A voice that shares dignity and respect. A voice that ends hate and discrimination.
My mentor in my practice, Daisaku Ikeda, has a quote. It reads, “The voice is a mirror of our being of our state of life. Our voice forthrightly reveals our true character, our cultivation as a human being. Our voices are ourselves.”
Remember this qoute when you are using your voice.
Thank you and Namaste!
Written By RLAG Ambassador: Amber Morgan Desjardins