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'We Need To Let People Be Who They Are': Advocates Showing Support For Transgender Athletes

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Advocates for transgender rights are pushing back against the fear that some athletes may have that transgender women in sports have a physical advantage. 

Leadership and discipline are two skills athletes develop in playing group sports, but acceptance and inclusion are another set of skills some advocates are hoping to teach.

"We need to let people be who they are and affirm who they are," said Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar.

Hogshead-Makar is now the CEO of Champion Women and works with Women Sports Policy, two groups that advocate for equal rights of cisgender and transgender athletes.

A cisgender person references an individual whose gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth, while transgender references an individual whose gender identity or expression does not correspond with their sex assigned at birth.

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"If somebody demonstrates that they have mitigated their sex-linked advantage, there's no reason not to include them into the girls and women category," Hogshead-Makar said.

The sex-linked advantage is what she describes as testosterone levels, which are typically lower in women and transgender women on hormone regimens.

The International Olympic Committee and the NCAA both have policies to allow transgender women to compete in women's sports as long as they test below a determined testosterone level.

"You lower your strength when you're on a regimen of hormone replacement therapy for instance. We have to base things on research," said Bamby Salcedo, who runs L.A.'s Trans Latina Coalition. 

Salcedo, a transgender woman, send she has dealt with athletic discrimination.

"We constantly live lives in distress. Transwomen particularly walk with targets on our back," Salcedo said.

She says inclusion in sports is one of the many ways to eliminate that marginalization.

California has policies in place to protest and include transgender athletes.

ACLU Southern California champions policies like that to create a healthier sports environment.

"Having their gender respected in sports and being able to succeed and excel is really, really powerful," Amanda Goad with ACLU SoCal said. 

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