Both the panel discussion and the screening of a short film held in the theatre room of the Golden Bastion in Budapest focused on the issue concerning transgender contestants in women’s sports. The event was organised by Hungary’s leading conservative weekly, Mandiner, in cooperation with the Batthyány Lajos Foundation. The opening speeches were delivered by editor-in-chief of Mandiner Zoltán Szalai and by István Pócza, Programme Director of the Batthyány Lajos Foundation. The event started with the screening of the short film, which focused a recent scandal that unfolded after a female contestant had protested against a transgender woman competing with biological women in a university league swimming event.
The discussion that followed was moderated by Mandiner editor and reporter Tamás Maráczi and featured three experts. Zsuzsa Csisztu is a well-known former rhythmic gymnastics champion, who is currently a columnist of Mandiner specialising in sports-related issues. She was joined by former President of Hungary Pál Schmitt, a two-time Olympic gold medalist fencer, who is currently active in sports diplomacy in addition to being a member of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and by Professor Béla Merkely, rector of Semmelweis University, who is an outstanding physician specializing in cardiology and sports medicine.
The discussion was moderated by Mandiner editor and reporter Tamás Maráczi and featured three experts
Prior to having discovered their different identity, they had already pursued professional training as men
In Dr Merkely’s opinion, the main problem with transgender athletes is that prior to having discovered their different identity, they had already pursued professional training as men for years, which altered not only their muscle and bones structures, but also other key physical attributes including the capacities of both their hearts and lungs. This threatens the whole concept of fair-play, which is a fundamental value in any sport, Professor Merkely nailed down.
Pál Schmitt shed light on the legal and the regulatory aspects of allowing transgender women to compete with biological women. He added, however, that everyone should have the right to become a professional athlete, but he also drew attention to the requirement of equality in sports which is a basic right as well that should be equally repected. Today, he reminded, we have come to an era when in every sport there are male and female divisions, which was not always the case during history. The two separate divisions in each sport were created in order to grant equal chances to contestants, a concept that is now being corrupted due to the appearance of transgender athletes.
All speakers agreed that in sports where speed or strength decide the rankings, women should be forced to compete against transgender athletes, as without equal chances of winning sports have no point at all.