This blog has long since talked about social issues, typically as they relate to books. While it is unlike me to use this blog for such blatant soapboxing as this, I’ve recently had an uptick in my traffic here. I want to use this as an opportunity to talk about something important to me: the wave of anti-trans legislation, coming to a school near you.
On June 1st, the first day of Pride Month, Florida Governor Ran DeSantis signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act”, which bars any trans girls from playing on public schools girl teams. This is only the latest is a series of similar laws have been signed in Idaho, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, with many other states proposing similar legislation.
I just want to mention that in Florida there have only been 11 trans students who applied for screening to participate in sports since 2013.
Eleven. Out of the whole state. This isn’t urgent legislation; trans athletes are not threatening anyone or taking away their chances. This is just hateful politicians trying to appease their base by creating discriminatory laws by targeting an already vulnerable group.
The Trevor Project
National Center for Transgender Equality
Human Rights Campaign
I know that not everyone sees these laws as inherently discriminatory, and I understand why. Sports and gender is not a new issue. Just ask Dutee Chand. Lawmakers use misinformation and fear, not scientific knowledge, to justify barring trans girls from school sports. In essence, they believe that trans girls will have an advantage over cisgender girls in competition, with the implication that trans females are not female.
Except that’s not true. This interview sums it up fairly well*. Let me give you a quick recap:
[Estrogen use by trans women] will reduce their muscle mass and red blood cells, which carry the oxygen necessary for better performance. And that will also reduce the speed, the strength and the endurance. [. . .] [A]t a high school level, many trans youth do delay their puberty, which means that even if they are not taking these gender-affirming hormones, their natural puberty in their biological sex is not happening, therefore resulting in a delay and an absence of an effect on muscle mass, at least for the male-to-female situation. So the supposed advantage of muscle mass and red blood cells because of testosterone becomes moot in middle and often high school competitions when there have been puberty blockers involved.
Dr. Eric Vilain, M.D., PhD
Luckily, the NCAA and International Olympics Committee are a little more up on the science than certain politicians. Both have put forth policies (linked here) regarding inclusion of trans athletes in college sports and the Olympics, respectively. In short, provided the athletes can meet the requirements in these guidelines, there is no reason they should be barred from competition.
Contact your representatives and tell them you support inclusive school sports for trans athletes. If you are able, please consider donating to one of the above organizations to help support trans students, and fight against harmful and unjust laws.
*For more science, in greater detail:
Sport and Transgender People: A Systematic Review of the Literature Relating to Sport Participation and Competitive Sport Policies
Trans Girls Belong on Sports Teams
Laws banning trans athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports not grounded in science, say experts
Radiolab Presents: Gonads
Stop talking about testosterone, there’s no such thing as ‘true sex’
Laws banning trans athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports not ground in science, experts say
Don’t fuck with me man, I’m a librarian.