Michelle Dumaresq has won the Canadian mountain biking championships three years in a row. This year, she finished one second ahead of Danika Schroeter, so she won the gold medal and Schroeter won the silver medal.
But you can’t see Schroeter’s medal in the winners’ picture … because she covered it by a t-shirt (handed to her by her boyfriend) that says “100% Pure Woman Champ 2006.” You see, Dumaresq is a transwoman.
Schroeter was suspended for three months for wearing that t-shirt at the winners’ ceremony … and Body Impolitic agrees that the suspension was an appropriate punishment. However, it came too late to protect Dumaresq from “”a bunch of people out in the audience who were obviously [Schroeter’s] friends, or her boyfriend’s friends, who were screaming really nasty comments while the general public was there.” Dumaresq said, “They were very, very inappropriate comments which I felt were sick, really in poor taste.”
Two issues are in play here: one is simple politeness and respect. By agreeing to compete in the event, Schroeter agreed to compete with Dumaresq on equal terms. And by my lights, she agreed to accept defeat as graciously as one hopes she would have accepted victory. That means no rude comments about the winner, either with her mouth or with her apparel. Enough said.
The other issue is the place for transwomen in sports. Here, Dumaresq seems to be short on supporters. Rumors are magnifying her height (from her actual 5’9″ to 6’1″), her weight, and her sports history. As was pointed out in a blog comment on the subject, if Schroeter lost by one second, it hardly seems that she was very physically outclassed. Although she wins in Canada on a regular basis, she was 26th the last time she competed internationally. This all seems to argue logically for what I believe anyway: transwomen are women, should be welcome to compete as women, and have no more of an unfair advantage than women who happen to be 6’1″ and 210 pounds. (I know women that big, and I bet you do too.)
Thanks to stringer Steven S. for more than one link on this topic.