Wpg Free Press: Transgender study analyzes varsity sport
U of M grad student's thesis looks to see if new policy is making a difference
Binary genders may not be the first words that come to mind when you talk about high school varsity sports — but it’s a whole new world for Manitoba school gyms and fields.
It’s a world in which boys’ sports and girls’ sports as the definitive and exclusive genders no longer cut it, a world with more than two genders, in which a student can choose with and against whom to play, and in which a student can request to be accommodated with a separate change room should the student wish.
This is the second academic year of the Manitoba High Schools Athletics Association’s groundbreaking transgender policy.
Yet, “Sport at high schools is still boys and girls, men and women,” said University of Manitoba graduate student Jaxon Rae Hutton, who’s researching the new transgender policy for his master’s thesis in kinesiology and recreation management.
High school athletics suffer from what Hutton academically labelled “binary genders.”
For transgender athletes, it’s not just choosing whether they will compete with and against boys or girls, with the full support of the education system, “It’s all up to the individuals if they’re comfortable or not, using certain change rooms or facilities. Something like having to ask for a bathroom to be made available for one student, suggests there’s something different about that student,” he said.
“I was surprised to hear it was enacted,” he said. “Throughout my youth, a policy like that would have been useful.”
Ten years ago in rural Manitoba, Hutton was confronting gender barriers.
The 26-year-old Hutton isn’t comfortable getting into much detail about his personal experience — it’s all about his research, not about him, said Hutton.