Discrimination Disguised as Protection

Trans kids who just want to live their lives are being targeted by conservative lawmakers across the nation.

All across the country, transgender kids are being targeted by conservative lawmakers.

New laws are being proposed, and some are being passed, such as Arizona Senate Bill 1165, which bans transgender women from competing in women’s sports, a common theme amongst other bills targeting trans people. 

Some bills are targeting trans kids’ rights to such basic things as changing their name at school, such as Indiana Senate Bill 354, which would require schools to notify the parents of trans students if the student in question wants to change their name at school. That would put some trans students with transphobic parents in direct danger by outing them. It puts those students at a horrible crossroads: hide their true self, or face terror at home?

In 2021, Ohio lawmakers introduced a law known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. Although it didn’t get out of committee, it frightened many trans Ohioans, myself included. If the bill had passed, it would have banned all transgender Ohioans under the age of 18 from accessing hormone blockers, which block puberty or going on hormones that affirm their gender identity, which are testosterone for trans men and estrogen for trans women. 

In other words, it would’ve been an attempt to force us to detransition, masquerading as a bill designed to protect children. This can be seen simply in the title of the SAFE Act, whose sponsor, Ohio Representative Gary Click (R-Vickery), admitted he had never even spoken to a trans person before introducing the bill, which claims it would protect children from “medical experimentation.”

In the first month of 2023 alone, more than 100 bills targeting trans people have been introduced in state legislatures. Half of the bills being in Texas, Missouri, South Carolina and Virginia combined,  according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The issue of trans people, especially trans women, playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity has become a nationwide talking point. A 2022 poll by NPR and Ipsos found that 63 percent of Americans oppose allowing transgender women to play on female sports teams, while only 24 percent were in favor. 

In reality, the idea that trans women should be forced to compete on male or co-ed teams is harmful and based on false science. Joanna Harper, a sports physicist who has previously advised the International Olympic Committee, said in an interview with WebMD that after several weeks on estrogen, a trans woman’s testosterone levels will be the same, or close to, those of a cisgender woman. There is no evidence that says trans women will have an unfair advantage because of their testosterone levels.

Every woman is different. Olympic runner Caster Semenya, a Black cisgender woman, was banned from competing as a runner in the 2020 Olympics because she was born with higher than average testosterone levels, which some officials claim gives her an unfair advantage. According to a CNN article, Black women are most likely to be targeted by sporting organizations, such as when the International Swimming Federation refused to allow a swim cap that incorporates natural Black hair.

Even though I’m a transgender woman, I’m horrible at sports. I can’t run more than 50 feet without getting tired. The one time I tried out for a school sports team, the middle school softball team in eighth grade, I was rejected. Not because I’m trans, but because I’m bad at sports. Every person has different abilities, and some trans women are amazing at sports, while others are not. Just like how some cisgender men are amazing at sports and some cisgender are not.

While bills targeting trans people may only seem like a problem for the trans community, they are an issue for far more than just us.

Under one version of Ohio’s SAFE Act, girls who play sports may be subjected to traumatizing genital exams if any doubt arose that they were cisgender, which could open the gate to requiring such exams just for girls to play any sport. In that version of the act, any girl who was suspected not to be cisgender would be subjected to an invasive exam of her external and internal reproductive system, which even Aaron Baer, President of the conservative Center for Christian Virtue, believes would be unnecessary.

But we don’t have to settle for a dystopian future.

Write to and call your lawmakers. Voice your opposition to anti-trans bills to elected officials. It’s easier than it sounds. Most elected officials have a contact page on their official website that gives you a place to  write them a letter.

We’re in charge of our future, and we need to make it one that’s not dystopian. We will fight back.

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