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Do sports police femininity?

August 13, 2021

Project Humanities fall-kickoff lecture sheds new light on the debate over transgender athletes in sports

When it comes to the topic of transgender athletes competing in sports, people have a lot to say. But it's more than just talk. This debate is expressed through popular culture, policies and politics.

Essentially, it boils down to this question: Do “fairness” and “inclusivity” hold the same weight in sports?

According to the International Olympic Committee, “participation in sport is a human right.” Translation: yes. But not everyone agrees.

On Thursday, Arizona State University's Project Humanities hosted a virtual platform for a professional transgender athlete and a scholar to offer their lived experience and research perspectives connected to this hot-button topic.

“As Project Humanities celebrates its 10-year anniversary, we continue to explore topics that divide many, topics that many actually avoid, and topics that still others choose not to understand,” said Neal A. Lester, professor of English and Project Humanities director. “Project Humanities has had conversations about transgender identities before and sees this as another opportunity to conjoin a persistent focus on justice, diversity and humanity. The lived experience of others may or may not align with our own, but each is worthy of being voiced and heard.”

The livestreamed event, titled “Dispelling the Myths: Transgender Athletes and Sport,” commenced the initiative's fall event series. It addressed the myths and misconceptions about trans and intersex female athletes in women’s sport. It also explored connections between testosterone and sport performance and looked at the current anti-transgender political and social climate.

The Aug. 12 event panel featured Veronica Ivy, a competitive cyclist, Canadian philosophy professor and transgender rights activist, as well as Scott Brooks, an associate professor with the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and associate director of ASU’s Global Sport Institute.

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Project Humanities Director Neal Lester (top right) introduces panelists Veronica Ivy and Scott Brooks for the Aug. 12 presentation of "Dispelling the Myths: Transgender Athletes and Sport." The livestreamed event kicked off the Project Humanities' 2021 fall lecture series.

Ivy kicked off the event discussing fairness in sports, what it has been like to compete as a trans athlete, the science of testosterone and performance, and discriminatory policies.

“I have a dream that one day we will be celebrating exceptional women no matter what their gendered history is, and we are nowhere near that,” said Ivy, who advises several international and national sports committees and federations on inclusion. “It bothers me when I see interviews of other successful athletes and the interview is about celebrating their performance when my interviews are always about defending my right to exist.”

Ivy said even though this topic has been debated and is constantly in the spotlight, important facts seem to get lost in the fray. She said both the International Court of Arbitration and the International Olympic Committee, both headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, and considered the “Supreme Court of Sports,” has straightforward polices in place for trans athletes that allow them to participate in sports without discrimination.

“The practice of sport is a human right,” said Ivy, who noted that the Olympics has had a trans athlete policy in place since 2004. “We need to stop policing femininity, period. We do not do this for men, only for women, and we need to stop.”

Ivy also stated that there is no empirical data on the relationship between natural testosterone and performance, and that science introduced by detractors is often “shady” and false.

“Medically all of my records say female. Trans girls are actually female,” Ivy said. “Trans women are women. Trans boys are male, and we all need to get over this.”

Ivy said she regularly competes against elite cisgenderCisgender refers to people whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth. women of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes she wins. Sometimes she loses.

“We’re all playing by the same rules under the same conditions of fairness,” Ivy said. “Everybody has different degrees of testosterone, and some women have more testosterone than men.”

Brooks said the notion that trans athletes are taking over women’s sports reminded him of a Sports Illustrated cover story from 1997, which insinuated white athletes were a dying breed.

“It (the article) was about these poor white boys who are having to take on these Black boys who are these ‘freak’ athletes,” Brooks said. “So, it struck me how it’s the same argument being used. … When we get to the heart of it, we talk about fear.”

Ivy said she has suffered from PTSD and anxiety as a result of harassment from those who believe that her participation in women’s sports is unfair, going so far as to call them "stalkers."

“It’s messed me up, I’ll be perfectly honest,” she said. “Going to competition is like a trigger for me. I have to do so much mental preparation and so much emotional work just to show up.”

Ivy did say progress was made in the recent Tokyo Olympics in which trans athletes saw competition in such sports as BMX, weightlifting, soccer and skateboarding. Midfielder Quinn became the first openly transgender and nonbinary athlete to medal at the Olympics when the Canadian women's soccer team won gold.

Lester said Ivy’s presentation changed a lot of minds and hearts, and helped bring understanding across the board.

“The survey feedback and personal responses to this opening fall event have been very encouraging,” Lester said. “Reading the powerful and engaging chat comments and getting messages of hope from attendees who are themselves transgender or the parents of transgender children is inspiring.” 

Top photo: Veronica Ivy is a transgender track cycling champion athlete. Photo courtesy of Veronica Ivy

Reporter , ASU News


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Move-in kick-starts fall 2021 semester for many ASU students

August 15, 2021

Sun Devil Nation came back to campus in force as first-year students began moving into residence halls on all four Arizona State University campuses.

The fall 2021 semester is seeing the highest number ever of Sun Devil students in residence halls — approximately 16,000 students. The move-in for 2021 began Aug. 11 and continued through Aug. 15 for first-year students; upper-division students' move-in takes place Aug. 16–18.

Building on an efficient model created last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU greeted students and their families with drive-thru move-in processes. In the past, families visited an indoor location, such as Desert Financial Arena in Tempe or the Verde Dining Pavilion on the West campus, to pick up room keys and other paperwork. Now, wherever possible those moving in stay in their cars for that process, getting their keys and materials and then proceeding to their assigned residence hall without ever leaving the comfort and air-conditioning of their vehicles.

And once they're at those residence halls, an army of ASU staff and volunteers help make the process as smooth as possible, unloading cars and moving belongings to rooms, keeping spirits up with cheers and applause, and helping families through what can often be an emotional day. Both students and families have reacted favorably to how effective this move-in process works, especially when it comes to beating the heat.

movers unpacking stuff into boxes from cars

Movers unload vehicles on the west side of Tooker House during the fall 2021 move-in at the Tempe campus on Aug. 11. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

student unlocking dorm room

Biomedical engineering first-year student Celia Martinsen-Burke unlocks her new residential hall room during the fall 2021 move-in at Tooker House. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

woman unpacking items in dorm room

Janene Martinsen helps her daughter, Celia Martinsen-Burke, organize her residential hall room during move-in at Tooker House. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

two students looking at cookbook

Computer science first-year student Brenya Nelson (left) and biomedical engineering first-year student Celia Martinsen-Burke take a look at a cookbook as they get settled in their new residential hall room during move-in Aug. 11. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

father taking photo of students moving in

Family members take photos and help first-year mechanical engineering students Craig Daley and Jack Kelly settle into their new residential hall room at Tooker House on Aug. 11. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

students and family unpack in dorm room

From left: Craig Daley, mechanical engineering first-year student Troy Daley, Tonya Kelly and mechanical engineering first-year student Jack Kelly organize their new room at Tooker House. Troy and Jack have known each since Little League and chose to room together. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

volunteers separating recyclables

Volunteer and sustainability sophomore Samantha Esparza (center) and Zero Waste student worker and marketing sophomore Sara Sroka (left) separate landfill-bound styrofoam and plastics from recyclable cardboard during move-in at Hassayampa on the Tempe campus on Aug. 14. About 60 tons of waste is generated during move-in, made up of predominately cardboard, soft plastics, styrofoam and other materials. ASU Zero Waste partners with ASU Housing try to divert 90% of the waste. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

Not only was the experience accelerated by the drive-up execution, the university staggered move-in schedules over several days, with appointments to provide not only a more public-health-conscious environment, but also to reduce congestion and maximize efficiency.

In addition, students were reminded about other public health considerations being managed by the university. Free vaccinations and COVID-19 testing through convenient Devils' Drop-off sites continue to be provided by the university, free of charge.

In a more recent development, on Aug. 11 the university provided more detail to its July 30, 2021, announcement regarding face coverings. Consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities, the university announced that masks will be required in settings such as classrooms and labs. In addition, ASU strongly recommends that everyone wears a face cover when inside any university building., The university will continue to monitor conditions and make any adjustments necessary for the health of the community.

RELATED: Find answers to frequently asked questions about campus life this fall

woman handing keys to student

Housing assistant Ahzae Heard, a second-year student in kinesiology, hands keys to a new resident during the move-in process Aug. 12 at Taylor Place residential hall on the downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

man pushing container with move-in supplies to room

First-year sports journalism student Aden Roddick navigates to his new room on Aug. 12 at Taylor Place on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

mother and son making dorm room bed

Aden Roddick and his mother, Gretchen, start setting up his new room at Taylor Place. The Roddicks are from Paso Robles, California. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

mother and daughter make the bed in her new dorm room

First-year medical studies student Kareen Ibanez and her mother, Monica Ibanez, from Phoenix, unpack during move-in on Aug. 12 at Taylor Place. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

people pushing trolleys across the street

First-year journalism student Tallulah Board and her family cross First Street in downtown Phoenix during move-in on Aug. 12, as she brings her things to Taylor Place residential hall. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

woman receiving keys during move-in

Tallulah Board gets her new keys at Taylor Place during move-in. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

The 2021 fall semester also marks the return to normal operations for the first time in three semesters due to the pandemic. The upcoming semester will be begin in Learning Mode 1, which calls for instruction to be delivered to students by faculty in person.

Students moving in to residence halls on campus will also experience a return to more normal experiences in ASU dining halls. ASU will be offering indoor dining in all of its facilities for the fall 2021 semester, providing standard dining utensils and plates for dine-in experiences. The university, however, encourages students to take advantage of outdoor dining options as weather permits. Indoor seating also will be available at fast-casual dining venues such as Starbucks and Chick-fil-A at the Memorial Union. ASU Dining will continue to have Plexiglas at all cashiering stations, and all Sun Devil dining employees will wear face coverings.

people pushing bins during move-in

Professor Duane Roen (right), former ASU Polytechnic campus vice provost and College of Integrative Sciences and Arts dean, helps Michelle Olson and her son Dylan Olson during fall 2021 move-in at Century Hall on the Polytechnic campus on Aug. 13. Roen is known for helping students and their families move in every year. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

people volunteering at move-in

Volunteer Teddy Mora (right) and software engineering sophomore Gabrielle Meacham (center) assist students checking in, along with other volunteers, during move-in at the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

people posing for photo in front of Century Hall residential hall

From left: Professional flight senior Kayla Kanemori, Community Director Elias Antelman, graphics information technology junior Cameron Tompkins and applied biological sciences Samirah Robinson were part of the Century Hall move-in team. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

student volunteering at move-in

Applied biological sciences junior Samirah Robinson looks for students to welcome to Century Hall during fall 2021 move-in on the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

woman holding a book titled "Adulting Made Easy"

During move-in at the Polytechnic campus, Clarisa Baltazar shows off the book she got for her son, first-year electrical engineering student Bradley Baltazar, as he moves out on his own for the first time. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

mom and student unpacking dorm room

Information technology first-year student Dylan Olson and his mother, Michelle, move his items into his new residence hall room at Century Hall on the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

As students in residence halls and those in living in the surrounding community settle into their new living environments, ASU Welcome Week events are on the horizon. 

There are events on all of ASU’s campuses that will allow new and returning students to get settled and meet new people. One such iconic event is Echo From the Buttes, when first-year students (and this year, sophomores as well) are invited to hike "A" Mountain and paint the A white to symbolize a fresh start to the new school year. 

Another event aimed at getting students connected to campus life is Passport to ASU, where many of ASU's hundreds of student clubs and organizations offer information and giveaways for those who'd like to get involved. It's a way for students to find people with similar interests and career goals. This year's Passport to ASU, broken into three separate times, takes place Aug. 18 at the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus. Find more information on the welcome website.

Other welcome events include the Takeover at the Memorial Union — when the Tempe building is turned into a hangout with live music, games and more — as well as a number of SophoMORE experiences aimed at those students who missed the traditional first-year events last year.

As students being to repopulate ASU residence halls, they, as well as faculty and staff, are reminded to continue to look for and be aware of social and operational protocol adjustments as the university continues to monitor and be responsive to public health guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

ASU dean talking to student by cars during move-in

Todd Sandrin, vice provost of ASU's West campus and dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, talks with one of the new students as her family begins unloading their vehicle during move-in at the Casa de Oro residential hall on the West campus on Aug. 13. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

dad helping daughter unload bicycle from car

Psychology first-year student Juliette Gigoux gets some help from her father, Jeff Gigoux, as they unload her belongings at the West campus. The Gigoux family is from Denver. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

father and son unloading car

First-year criminology and criminal justice student Sterling Currie, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his father, Brandon, start to unload the family vehicle during move-in at the West campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

students posing for photo during move-in

Some of the housing assistants pose with pitchforks during move-in at the Casa de Oro residential hall on the West campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

student walking down residential facility hall

Forensic psychology first-year student Nehaa Ram, from San Jose, California, walks down the hall looking for her room at Casa de Oro. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

student hanging poster on wall in dorm room

The first item of business for Nehaa Ram is to hang a poster of the Hindu guru Shri Sai Baba in her room at Casa de Oro on the West campus. Her mother, Priya Ram, watches. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

student carrying boxes off truck bed

Third-year social work student Sammy Sahagun helps unload her belongings from her friend's truck during move-in at the new multipurpose Fusion on First residential hall, on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Aug. 16. Sahagun says that she is "so excited" to be among the building's first residents. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

student getting residence hall keys

Third-year journalism student Alexis Watkins gets her keys and directions to her new room during move-in at Fusion on First on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Watkins is a transfer student from Virginia. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

family unpacking items in dorm room

Alexis Watkins (right) unpacks her belonging with her sister, Megan (left), and mother Dawn at the new Fusion on First residential hall. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

downtown Phoenix building with light rail crossing in front of it

The first floor of the new multipurpose Fusion on First residential hall will offer student amenities as well a makerspace. The second and third floors will feature academic space, with fashion classes on the second floor and music programming on third. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

Top photo: First-year journalism student Tallulah Board and her parents unload their vehicle during move-in on Aug. 12, at Taylor Place on the Downtown Phoenix campus. The family is from Tucson. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU

Andrew Columbro

Media relations assistant , Media Relations and Strategic Communications