Transgender children need you to advocate for them. Yes, you.
Transgender youth athletes are under attack. Thirty-one states, including Florida, have proposed statewide legislation to ban transgender athletes from playing women’s school sports. Florida’s version passed the House on Thursday. Proponents of HB 1475 — Sex-Specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports — have reasoned that the bill ensures an even playing field for physical competition by segregating by sex.
I assure you this reasoning is a guise for government overreach. The facts are, transgender women have already been competing without issue for years. Florida legislators haven’t even been able to find an example of a transgender athlete unfairly dominating over their competitors, and the number who are competing is small enough to allow sports organizations to self-regulate. In an interview with the ACLU, Dr. Joshua D. Safer affirms that “a person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.” The vast majority of transgender athletes have the same athletic range as their competitors.
The truth is, this bill is rooted in transphobia. This kind of fear mongering is nothing new. Before it was trans people being singled out, it was gay men, then lesbian women. But rest assured, this is discrimination, plain and simple. Transphobia is the latest iteration of a long history of unwarranted discrimination.
Bills like this one are especially dangerous, because they pull opportunities for healthy development away from children, and are based on faulty science.
Recently, Arkansas became the second state to pass a similar bill. The effects are devastating. Banning transgender children from playing the sports they love limits their ability to thrive and succeed for the rest of their lives. It also impedes their social development, since trans kids will perceive themselves as unwanted in a lot of spaces.
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.
Trans kids should just be loved and encouraged, and they are worthy of participating in sports. They are kids who should be treated like any other kid, because they are just like any other kid. You can show them just that through being an advocate. You also need to consider how much government overreach you’re willing to allow in Florida.
You may not know a trans kid and this may not affect you or anyone in your circle. But that doesn’t mean you should stand by and let this happen to these kids. Put yourself in these kids’ shoes and imagine if for whatever reason, because you were different, you were barred from playing sports. Do you want your government to bar kids from sports, or is Florida going to #LetKidsPlay?