Gender Neutral Locker Rooms?

male-locker-roomIt's a topic that has been widely discussed in recent media: gender neutral locker rooms

As transgenderism becomes more widely accepted thanks to athletes such as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, the issue is up front and personal for athletes, athletic trainers and coaches. Should transgender athletes use traditional male and female locker rooms--and if so, which one? Or should a gender-neutral and possibly exclusionary locker room be offered? 

Even among transgender athletes, the answers aren't clear-cut. But there is one commonality: fear. 

During a recent panel discussion on "The Dressing Room: A Space for Team Spirit or Alienation?" at the 2015 Stockholm EuroGames, transgender athletes discussed three options: 

  • Gender neutral locker rooms
  • Changing stalls located within gender identity locker rooms that would allow for private dressing
  • Full integration into a locker room that conforms to their self-affirmed gender identity, which is what most transgender athletes hope to achieve

It all comes to individual facilities to work on creating positive language and culture in the locker room. 

In competitive sports, the locker room is a place where access is granted only to a few — athletes, coaches and trainers. It is a place for the athletes to be themselves and it is vital to the health, well being and performance of the athlete.

Over the past few years, there has been much talk about gays in locker rooms and whether the presence of openly gay athletes would disrupt the locker room culture. But what about the trans athletes? What are the barriers facing trans athletes as it relates to that same hyper-masculine locker room culture?

When I first started researching this topic, I reached out to several trans athletes and sources considered authorities on transgender policy. The reaction was surprising and included hostility from some. The debate on the topic can get emotional; some cisgender women oppose the idea of trans women sharing locker rooms. It turns out that there really are no authorities on the topic of the self-affirmed gender identity locker room situation. 

This article excerpt, by Kevin Majoros, originally appeared here: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/08/19/gender-neutral-locker-rooms/.

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