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Though we have come a long way in the last 50 years, transgender athletes still face difficulty when it comes to competing in competitions around the world. Recently, in this year's Olympics, though there was a record number of over 50 LGBT athletes competing, there were reportedly only two transgender athletes, neither of which chose to be named publicly.
Though public discourse on the subject continues to be polarising and we are still a long way from the stage where all athletes can feel welcome in competing in the world's biggest events, it is important to look back at how far we have come. Today we are going to look at some of the world’s famous transgender athletes.
Though Caitlyn Jenner continues to be a polarising figure, there are few that can deny the real impact she has had on raising awareness for the transgender community. Caitlyn publically came out as transgender in an interview in 2015. Caitlyn has an extensive athletic career and is a gold medal winning decathlete, taking the medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympic games.
Renée Richards was an American ophthalmologist who would go on to have moderate success in professional Tennis in the 1970s. Though Renée Richards did not have the most successful sporting career, she is most notable for the sheer amount of resistance she faced in competitions due to her trans status. She was denied access to the 1976 Open and instead of simply adhering to the action Richards turned face and took the organisation to the Supreme Court who later ruled in her favour. She has since become a figurehead of transgender rights and has helped to navigate the way for future trans athletes.
Caster is one of the most famous examples of transgender athletes and one of the most publicly discussed. Throughout her athletic career, Caster has been subjected to numerous disputes and accusations about her gender and been forced to commit to dozens of tests to prove it. Recently in the 2016 Rio Olympics, concerns were raised about Caster’s levels of testosterone, potentially causing a biological disadvantage to other athletes. This opened up a massive debate about what constitutes as a breach of privacy and personal life and sporting fairness.
Chris Mosier is an American transgender advocate and has had numerous athletic successes as a triathlete. Mosier represents a number of world firsts including being the first trans athlete to join a U.S national team, different from his gender assigned at birth. In a representative level, Mosier was also the first openly transgender athlete to be featured in ‘Body Issue’ a segment in ESPN The Magazine and the first transgender athlete to star in a Nike advert.
Through her years as a professional golfer, Mianne was challenged with numerous restrictions based on her identification as transgender. In 2004 Bagger became the first openly transgender athlete to compete in a professional golf tournament when she took part in the Women's Australian Open. Since then she has campaigned tirelessly to help other transgender athletes take part in sporting competitions around the world and help change restrictive anti-transgender policies.
These are just a few of the remarkable transgender athletes helping to make the world’s sporting community wider and more inclusive. By taking the spotlight and continuing to push themselves further athletically, these individuals continue to inspire future generations of athletes.