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Transgender Athletes and Indian Laws

The term “transgender” refers to people whose gender does not correspond to that which was assigned to them at birth, such as those who identify as female but are male at birth or those who identify as male but are female at birth.

The biggest problem is how it is understood; while some people can identify as transgender from an early age, others struggle with this and only come to terms with it later in life. Whether they are athletes or not, these people frequently experience hostility from the culture in which they reside; even the IOC (International Olympic Committee) shows little concern for them.

Values like fraternity, teamwork, equality, discipline, justice, and respect are embodied in sports. It brings people from all walks of life together so they can interact, compete, and forge bonds of brotherhood. It has been observed, nonetheless, that some of its unfavourable laws and restrictions serve as a foundation for exclusion as well.

Without their knowledge or awareness, transgender athletes are subjected to harsh screening procedures by the sporting community and are treated indifferently.


Sex verification or gender determination tests are conducted on athletes to determine their hormone and testosterone levels. These tests have been around for a while, and their main purpose is to stop men from dressing as women to compete unfairly against other athletes. However, there are some problems with the same, such as the fact that when female athletes are forced to undergo such tests, they feel alone and a lack of identity develops, which can cause depression and even suicide, as in the case of Santhi Soundarajan, who attempted suicide after failing the sex verification test. The main concern is the worry that men who pose as women may get an unfair competitive advantage in sports and eventually take over and rule women’s sports, particularly athletics. However, it is important to note that the topic of transgender and intersex athletes, as well as the other issues they confront, should not be confused with the quite unrelated issue of gender fraud. However, it is undeniable that there is a thin line between someone who wants to alter their gender for sincere reasons and someone who does it to obtain an unfair competitive advantage. It could be challenging to determine the difference; therefore, it must be inferred from circumstantial evidence. It should also be emphasised that this duty is far from simple because other aspects become crucial and it is impossible to evaluate the case in isolation. Without regard to the nation or the sport, the media seizes every chance to cover a dispute in the world of sports.

Sports involving transgender athletes are a contentious subject, especially when it comes to trans women who allegedly exhibit higher amounts of testosterone than cisgender women and are therefore superior to them.

Supporters claim that the testing is necessary to ensure fair competition and equality among the athletes. Some female Olympians also agreed that the testing was necessary to identify men who were dressing as women, rather than to protect women who might be vulnerable to such tests due to certain congenital conditions. Additionally, these tests only approximate the gender, not the precise genetic characteristics that make a girl to be a female. Additionally, some medical professionals have discredited such testing, claiming that it is unethical and unreliable for determining a person’s gender.


In order to assure fairness, these tests are only performed on female athletes. This is because male impersonators may dominate the sport of athletics, whereas female impersonators would not have an advantage over other competitors. This is essentially predicated on the notion of male physical dominance, which is based on sex superiority rather than someone having a better personal potential. The “gender parade” was one of the practices the IOC Medical Commission utilized until 2000, at international games or Olympics, in which women athletes had to parade naked in front of IOC Medical Commission members, assuring all females possessed the sexual characteristics of a woman. 


Santhi Soundarajan, a woman from Tamil Nadu, was stripped of her silver medal from the 2006 Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar, after failing a sex verification test, and she was deemed ineligible in the women’s competition as she didn’t possess the sexual characteristics of a woman. Her case highlights the plight of transgender people in India. The Olympics Council of Asia was unable to provide all the necessary laboratory tests to support their case against Santhi, and the Indian Olympic Association (IOC) instructed her to stop competing without informing her of the type of test she had failed. This demonstrates their lack of accountability for taking an athlete’s medal away without providing adequate justification. As a result, her rights were violated, and the government, which has a duty to defend the rights of athletes who are representing their nation, did not follow suit.


The main complaint is that, unlike doping, which is used on both male and female athletes, the sex determination test is mostly used on female athletes, leading to discrimination, inequality, and invasion of privacy. Sex testing has been used to limit the participation of women in sports, but medical professionals view this practise as unethical, unscientific, and without any real benefit.

Additionally, negative psychological effects from gossip, media, and testing of players without their knowledge can result in those athletes feeling ashamed, withdrawing from sport despite it being their source of income, and ultimately attempting suicide. Women who failed these examinations faced discrimination, while those who declined to take them had to deal with rumours about their sexual orientation. The best thing that can be done to support these athletes is to educate the government about its responsibility to uphold the rights of its athletes who would bring honour and pride to the nation through their accomplishments. Additionally, the various organisations and committees organising competitions at the national or international levels should refrain from enforcing such unfair rules and regulations.