Article 6 – 2023 (July)
Australian Shooter Magazine
Question and Answers
Article 6 – 2023 (July)
Question: This is a serious question so please treat it as such. I would also ask that you keep my name anonymous. I am after your opinion on whether you believe transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in shooting competitions such as those conducted at the Olympics Games? I have a close relative that is quite interested in pursuing clay shooting, but is facing some personal issues. Personally, I don’t believe there is advantage in either gender for any of the shooting events, but some may say in events such as shotgun, strength is a big factor. I am curious on your thoughts about this and do you believe there will be any backlash and discrimination towards anyone that tries this.
Name and address withheld
Answer: I have not to printed your name and address as requested because of the sensitivity of the topic. I am not wanting to start a verbal war within our readership. I do respect your question and I pre-empt my reply by stating these are my views and not necessarily those of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Australian Olympic Committee or anyone else that I represent. These are just my opinions in response to your question.
Firstly, let me state what some of the requirements are currently for any person born a male planning to cross over and compete in female competitions. Amongst other things that are way too involved and complicated to mention here, an athlete must adhere to the following conditions to be considered to compete in the Olympics as decided by the International Olympic Committee in 2015;
1.The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
- The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
- The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.
It may surprise you that four athletes competed at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as transgender or nonbinary competitors in the sports of Weightlifting, BMX, Football and Skateboarding.
The argument of male strength is the most common criticism thrown up, but it may also surprise you to know at the 1992 Olympic Games at Barcelona in the Shotgun event of Skeet, which at that time was solely an open competition with no separate category for men and women, a small petite Chinese lady by the name of Shan Zhang won the Gold Medal after shooting a perfect 200/200 over the three days of qualification. I know Shan well and she has not got a masculine muscle in her body. She is as feminine as they come so that sort of destroys the strength argument some-what. One must therefore the question is strength a huge factor in the Air Pistol events or even non-Olympic competitions like Prone or Benchrest Rifle for that matter?
Interestingly in 2017 in the United States the eleventh ranked women’s air pistol shooter was an athlete that qualified under the above criteria and “they” declared their intention to try and compete at future Olympic Games.
So, to my view on this issue and again, this is just my opinion. Personally I initially struggled with it a little. I have a daughter that shoots every now and then in small competitions and I feel she would be at a physical disadvantage against the men. But here’s the thing. She doesn’t feel that way at all. She has an attitude like Shan Zhang that when she competes, she enters the competition to shoot the highest score irrespective of what gender has entered the event. Her opinion now puts me curiously “on the fence” with the whole topic.
I admit I do not know any male athlete in our sport that wants to make the change so I can’t comment personally with any experience on the issue, but I guess if someone is born a male and feel they should have been a female and meet the above four criteria and desperately want to compete in our sport at the highest level then the door is open. I don’t accept discrimination against any human based on their race, religion or sexuality and although this is a different topic, I feel my views will be seen as somewhat hypocritical. For that I apologise if in fact this does offend you or any of our readers that are contemplating this change. I am sure it is a long road and a terribly difficult decision.
Finally will there be any discrimination or backlash? If it’s permissible under the rules then there shouldn’t be any discrimination. Will there be any backlash? Sadly, I need to be honest here, I would certainly not condone it, but I am not sure everyone in the shooting sports is ready for transgender athletes just yet, but again this is just my opinion.
It is only a matter of time before the National organisations governing the shooting sports in Australia are faced with this complex issue at a domestic competition level so I would suggest they get on the front-foot and formulate and openly publish their policy on the matter before it becomes a problem.
It’s a topic we can all have a view point on and one, I am sure, that we all won’t agree.
Welcome to 2023!