Transgender youth athletes need adults to go to bat for them
GOP lawmakers are threatening the integrity of athletics across the country. Their target: Transgender youth athletes. 31 states, including Missouri, have proposed statewide legislation to ban transgender athletes from playing school sports. Missouri legislators in favor of HR 53 say they want to ensure a level playing field for physical competition through segregating by sex. They are concerned transgender athletes possess an unfair advantage against their competitors.
The truth is, transgender girls have already been competing without issue for years. The number of athletes who may display an unfair athletic advantage is small enough to allow sports organizations to self regulate. Doctor Joshua D. Safer, the Executive Director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System confirms that “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.” Nearly all transgender athletes have the same athletic range as their competitors.
I want to be clear: this bill is rooted in transphobia, and is putting innocent children in the crosshairs. This kind of fear mongering is nothing new. Before this, it was bathroom bills, preceded by a long history of discriminating against LGBTQ+ men and women. Banning trans kids from sports is discrimination, plain and simple. Transphobia against children is the latest iteration of a long history of unwarranted discrimination towards the innocent.
Bills like this one are especially harmful, because they disrupt the healthy development of children, and make way for more discrimination down the line.
All children deserve the opportunity to be healthy, happy, and thrive. Playing sports empowers children to build discipline, appreciate teamwork, develop their athletic abilities, develop a competitive edge, and participate in leadership opportunities. Youth athletes have the opportunity to have all of these experiences that will propel them into success in adulthood.
When a state like Missouri passes a bill like this one, the damage is devastating. Banning transgender children from playing the sports they love limits their ability to create a sense of self without the skills atheltics offers. It also impedes their social development, since trans kids will perceive themselves as unwanted in a lot of spaces.
Trans kids are worthy of participating in sports. Trans kids are worthy of allyship from adults, in fact they need to know there are adults who will stand up against hatred. You can show them they matter through being an advocate.
You also need to consider how much government overreach you’re willing to allow in Missouri. If this bill is passed, what’s stopping the GOP from regulating independent organizations that function just fine on their own?
You may not know a trans kid, or might not feel like the issue relates to you. Here’s the thing: I’m willing to bet that you would want to speak up to ensure kids are protected in Missouri. Well, transgender kids are kids. Children have such limited abilities to make their own decisions and protect themselves in this country, and we need to stand up for them as adults. Put yourself in these kids’ shoes and imagine if for whatever reason, because you were different, you were barred from doing what you love. If you love children like I do, you can’t let this bill pass.
Are we going to let the GOP bully trans children, or is Missouri going to #LetKidsPlay?