Northwest Missourian Opinion

Transgender men are men. Transgender women are women.

Transgender people should get to live their lives as they are, as the gender they identify as. 

So why are we trying to keep these kids from playing sports when there are more pressing issues trans teens deal with on a daily basis?

A new bill has been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives requiring students to play sports based on the sex listed on their birth certificate. If the bill passes, it will be on the ballot for voters to decide in 2022.

The bill will affect all trans high school student athletes but has an emphasis on girls sports.

The Missouri High School Activities Association’s handbook already has rules for trans athletes. Trans boys can play on boys and co-ed teams, but trans girls can’t play on girls teams.

The handbook further discriminates by saying that if a trans girl has started taking hormones for transition, she cannot play on the girls team, but can play on the boys team.

Missouri isn’t the only state considering discriminatory legislation against trans students. Many states including Iowa and Texas are considering similar bans of trans girls from sports.

Some people are defending the bill by saying it is unfair or damaging to young women’s careers in sports to allow trans girls to play. Rep. Mike Haffner from Pleasant Hill, who has agreed with the bill, said that, “When you have physiological boys competing with women, it becomes very unfair.”

The bill does nothing but discriminate against trans girls and is damaging to their lives and futures in sports.

Dr. Veenod Chulani, director of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Adolescent Medicine Program, has debunked the reasoning behind barring trans girls from sports.

Chulani said that these types of bills don’t recognize the diversity among trans females. 

There are many characteristics that can lead to excellence in sports, and sports utilize different skills. The skills I need to golf aren’t the same skills I would need for soccer. Simply put, there is no sound evidence that trans girls have an advantage playing women’s sports, Chulani said.

Chulani goes further to say that these bills fail to understand the biology of puberty, and that when a trans girl takes puberty blockers to stop her male puberty, she wouldn’t develop traits that are supposed to theoretically give her an advantage. 

The trans community is full of diverse people, and not all trans people fit into what many non-trans people think. Not all people who are trasngender go through hormones or gender reassignment surgery. It’s up to them if they want to physically express their gender identity or not.

And whether they want their physical appearance to match how they identify is no one’s business but theirs. 

Trans students need spaces where they can thrive and be supported, and playing sports can offer that space. We are only harming trans youth by excluding them from these spaces.

Having supportive environments for trans kids is even more crucial when you consider that trasngender youth are more likely to attempt or consider suicide than their cisgender peers — individuals whose gender identities match their birth sex.

Transgender discrimination isn’t new. We have been keeping transgender kids from living their authentic life with the use of laws such as bathroom bills that don’t allow trans kids to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

We aren’t making sports fair or protecting girls sports; we are furthering inequality and discrimination of people who are transgender. All trans kids want to do is live their lives and play sports with their friends. Kids deserve to feel not only comfortable in their own skin, but in the communities they are a part of. 

If the bill ends up on the ballot in Missouri, we must reject it to help trans kids and athletes.

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