Media Representation of Trans Athletes

A Scoping Review of the lines of discourse pursued by the Mainstream UK Print Media when discussing Trans Athletes

Over the last few years, the UK media has become increasingly ‘concerned’ by the inclusion of trans people in sport. Or rather, by the presence of trans women in ‘women’s sports’.

This, in turn, has led to a creeping exclusion of trans women from many sports; starting with the ‘obvious’, such as rugby or boxing, where such concerns might be anticipated; but in recent months, moving on to areas such as chess, orienteering and angling, where trans women are deemed to have a ‘biological advantage’.

Both the extent and the nature of such advantage remains hotly contested. Anti-trans campaigners are quick to cite ‘common sense’; however, they are low on hard evidence.

As a media-focussed organisation, Trans Media Watch remains agnostic on the substance. However, we are concerned that debate, such as there has been, has been lop-sided, partial, and focused on a limited set of themes, such as ‘fairness’ and ‘safety’, with scant regard for other narratives – such as social inclusion, or even, the nature of genetic advantage in sport.

In this report, sponsored by Trans Media Watch, and reviewed by the LGBTQ+ Inclusive Medical Education Alliance (LIMA), the author has looked at how this issue has been covered in the UK media in 2023; the key themes to which they keep returning; and the themes that they have steadfastly refused to explore.

If you want to understand better what is happening in the UK in respect of the ‘trans sport debate’, click here to download the full report.

Researched and Written by: Kevin Palmer, University of Sheffield
Published by: Trans Media UK
On Behalf of: Trans Media Watch
Publishing date: 14 November 2023
ISBN: 978-1-7392264-1-1

1 Comment on Media Representation of Trans Athletes

  1. If young dysphoric people were allowed and supported to transition naturally before “advantage bestowing” hormones filled their bodies, the number of trans women (because that’s what we are talking about) who aspire to elite sport (vanishingly small as it is) would be almost if not completely zero.

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