Belonging nowhere: transgender athletes face an uphill battle against regulations to compete

In March 2022, American swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender D-1 athlete to win an NCAA title – and she sparked a heated debate.

On the one hand, many claim that the inclusion of transgender athletes – particularly those who transitioned from male to female – compromises the safety and fairness of competition.

But others argue that an advantage does not necessarily mean unfairness. Some basketball players have height advantages, and some tennis players are left-handed – but these do not threaten the competition’s integrity.

Bella Robbins, a water polo player with the LGBTQ+ inclusive Manchester Sharks, is in the process of transitioning from male to female.

She has played water polo her whole life – including a training stint with Team GB. But this has been put on hold – according to British Swimming regulations, her testosterone levels need to fall further before she can compete.

I caught up with Bella as she waits in limbo, and she weighed in on questions about fairness and inclusion.

Watch the video below where she shares her own experiences.

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