High school association now requires youth to compete on sports teams that match birth certificate

High school association now requires youth to compete on sports teams that match birth certificate

Thanks to Republican hate and queerphobia, trans youth are already suffering. As Daily Kos has covered, trans and nonbinary youth are uniquely ill-protected when it comes to basic rights and dignities, including everyday things like having access to bathrooms that align with their gender identity. We’ve also seen efforts to ban already difficult to access safe, age-appropriate, gender-affirming health care. And perhaps the topic that proves most controversial, even among the left, is whether or not trans youth should be able to participate on sports teams that align with their gender identity (they should). Thanks to hateful legislation, however, some are already being kept on the sidelines.

As reported by CNN, trans high schoolers in Georgia have been banned from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identities. The Georgia High School Association used the anti-trans bill signed into law last week as justification for the decision. This decision, sadly, had a unanimous vote to amend its guidelines to clarify that a student’s sex is determined by what is listed on their original birth certificate. The ban goes into effect immediately.

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Robin Hines, who serves as the executive director of the GHSA, told CNN in an interview that he wasn’t aware of any students in the state that would be impacted by the change, but that they don’t actually keep information “on that.”

As background, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 1084 (misleading called the “Protect Students First Act”) into law barely two weeks ago. The law creates an oversight committee to decide whether or not trans students in the state will be able to participate on sports teams that align with their gender identity. There is no need for a 10-person committee to decide this, but of course, At the signing, Kemp made a point of saying he was signing this legislation so every “young girl” will have “every opportunity” to succeed. 

Imagine if that included trans girls! Imagine.

There is no need for this ban. There is no need for this hateful legislation. It only isolates and punishes an already marginalized, vulnerable group of young people who do not have the resources to fully defend themselves, much less vote. Research has shown that trans women and girls do not have any sort of direct (much less consistent) advantage over cisgender girls in sports, though conservatives continue to insist that they do. Conservatives like to say they’re protecting girls’ sports, but if they cared at all, to begin with, they’d put actual funding and resources into those teams and associations. They’d also work on legislation to keep players safe from predators, but I digress.

It’s also worth stressing that this ban requires the original birth certificate, so young people who are able to get the document changed are still kept out. This is also dangerous because it can essentially “out” trans youth who might not be out about their identity to classmates or teammates, but would suddenly find themselves having to explain why they’re no longer in a league or trying out for a team. This is especially a possibility in Georgia, where the organization’s current guidelines direct schools to honor the athlete’s gender identity as understood by the school.

Sadly, Georgia is not the only state to enact anti-trans legislation in recent memory. For example, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia, and Iowa have pushed comparable legislation already. 

Even if it was only one state, or one league, or one organization, though, it wouldn’t be okay. Trans youth already face a disproportionate risk of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, s well as a higher risk for suicidal ideation. Trans youth are also more likely to be bullied, harassed, and leave high school without a diploma. There is absolutely nothing to gain by further punishing trans youth and stripping them of friendship, camaraderie, and a safe place to be themselves.

Unless you’re a Republican worried about midterms, that is. Then demonizing vulnerable kids has quite a lot to offer, if you’re looking for an easy way to rile up your fanbase. In a word: Deplorable.

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