Lance Armstrong—a man whose entire career is defined by cheating in sports via steroids—is just “asking questions” about whether it’s fair to allow trans women play women’s sports.
On Saturday, Armstrong tweeted that he’d be launching a special interview series of his podcast The Forward, where he’d speak with notoriously transphobic former athlete Caitlyn Jenner to have a conversation, and I quote, “in and around…(long pause) trans in sport.” Aside from being dehumanizing as hell, even from a grammatical perspective, this makes no sense. But of course, there’s more!
“Have we really come to a time and place where spirited debate is not only frowned upon, but feared?” Armstrong tweeted alongside the announcement. “Where people’s greatest concern is being fired, shamed or cancelled? As someone all too familiar with this phenomenon, I feel I’m uniquely positioned to have these conversations.”
Why might Lance Armstrong, the man stripped of seven Tour de France titles; who in 2012 was banned for life from all competitive sports by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; who cheated to win races by using EPO, testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormones, and illegal blood transfusions; and who ran a wide-scale intimidation campaign against the teammates, health practitioners, and journalists that threatened to expose him, be interested in discussing trans athletes’ participation in sports? Because he was, as he puts it, canceled.
“It turns out I’m not that afraid of [being fired, shamed, or cancelled],” he continues in the video. “The way to get to a smarter conclusion, or have a smarter conversation [about trans athletes in sports], is to just go in fearless. And I’m sort of fearless on this one.” To reiterate, Armstrong believes that his existence as a “canceled,” cisgender, and “fearless” man qualifies him to wade into the topic of whether or not trans athletes should be able to participate in sports based on their gender identity. Except Lance Armstrong was not canceled, he was removed from the sporting world for using unfair advantages to win and deceiving the world about it.
As writer Charlotte Clymer suggested, I don’t think Armstrong cares about the outcome of this discussion, and I don’t think he cares about trans athletes or women’s sports, one way or the other. Rather than fading into the background with his little venture capital business, Armstrong is capitalizing on the current frenzy of hate for trans folks to insert himself back into the public eye and become relevant again.
As trans athletes have told us again and again and again, no one is identifying as trans to gain any sort of advantage in the world of competitive sports. People who identify as trans do so because it is the only way for them to live as themselves. Trans people compete in sports for the same reasons cis people do: because they enjoy it. Because it builds community and character. Because it allows for strength and competition and exhilaration. The only people entering sports to win unfairly are people like Lance Armstrong.