UNE President's Forum presents ‘Transgender Athletes and Competitive Sports’ on March 6

Graphic of multiple thought bubbles with words "‘Transgender Athletes and Competitive Sports: A Conversation'

The University of New England will hold the next installment of its President’s Forum series on March 6, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Biddeford Campus’ Harold Alfond Forum.

“Transgender Athletes and Competitive Sports: A Conversation” will be the fifth event in the series, launched in 2018, which aims to model the university’s role as the “marketplace of ideas” — a venue where diverse perspectives on various controversial issues of our times can be expressed and discussed with a sense of decorum and respect for those who hold opposing opinions.

The increasing visibility of transgender athletes in athletic competition has spurred dialogue around biology, possible competitive advantages and fairness, and whether various governing bodies need to develop new considerations in what historically has been a binary arena. Several high-profile cases involving transgender women athletes and recent federal court decisions have attracted considerable media attention in recent months.

The moderated discussion will present two different perspectives on the issue from speakers Carole Hooven, Ph.D., author of “T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us” (Henry Holt, 2021), and Steph Richards, a British transgender woman and the founder of "Steph's Place UK,” a trans advocacy organization (re-branded as TransLucent.Org.UK).

UNE President James Herbert, Ph.D., noted that Hooven and Richards have a track record of engaging in respectful dialogue around the issue of transgender athletes in competitive sports, notwithstanding their divergent viewpoints, which, he believes, renders them highly qualified speakers for an event intended to demonstrate courteous dialogue on contentious — and often divisive — issues. “We’re fortunate to have two experts who have demonstrated respect for each other despite their difference of opinion on this subject and who are the perfect interlocutors to model thoughtful, nuanced, civil discourse on difficult topics — UNE’s primary goal for this series,” he stated.

Political scientist and educational consultant Jeanne Hey, Ph.D., former dean of UNE’s College of Arts and Sciences, will moderate the conversation, which will include ample opportunity for audience participation through comments and questions.

Steph Richards

Carole Hooven