Opinion | I’m a Trans Runner. Here’s Why I Struggle With How to Compete Fairly.

Trans athletes are trapped in a culture war.
I’m not a cheater but I may have an unfair advantage.

Trans athletes are trapped in a culture war. I’m not a cheater but I may have an unfair advantage.

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Featuring Andie Taylor

Video by Lindsay Crouse and Taige Jensen

In the highly politicized debate over whether transgender women should be allowed to play women’s sports, opinions tend to divide into two starkly opposing camps.

There are those people — including lawmakers in dozens of states — who argue that the integrity of girls’ and women’s sports needs to be safeguarded against people assigned male at birth and the physical advantages they may possess. The other side argues that by the very fact of their gender transition, trans girls and women have earned the right to compete as their chosen gender.

But Andie Taylor, a 48-year-old trans woman and competitive runner who has much to gain or lose in this debate, finds herself staking out a more nuanced position, somewhere in the apolitical middle ground.

In the Opinion video above, Ms. Taylor describes how she is eager to compete among women and yearns for inclusion — but only if the scientific research unequivocally shows that her years living as a male did not give her an advantage.

There is little research regarding the performance of transgender athletes, in part because their numbers are so small. Some evidence suggests that trans women retain some athletic advantages after a year of undergoing testosterone suppression. Researchers have also found that those advantages, with time, largely fall away.

As research advances, Ms. Taylor is imploring all sides in the debate to refrain from using the issue for political gain.

“I want to win,” she says, “but I only want to win if I know it’s fair.”

Andie Taylor is a distance runner and transgender woman from St. Paul, Minn.

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