Missouri is one of 25 states with legislation under consideration that would ban transgender youth from sports, and just last week the Missouri House approved a provision to a bill that would do just that. The approval came after a two-day-long, contentious debate.
One has to question what exactly the purpose of the bills are, particularly here in Missouri where the Missouri State High School Activities Association already has a policy in place to address trans youth who want to participate in high school athletics.
To put it simply, these bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women — but if the argument truly was to protect women and women’s sports, why not invest more funding, resources and media coverage, into women’s sports and address issues of sexual harassment and unequal pay.
Denying a 14-year-old transgender student the opportunity to play high school soccer does nothing to actually protect women or advance women’s rights. These bills are political theater and all they do is force vulnerable people to testify to lawmakers and others that they are also deserving of compassion, understanding and empathy. No one should have to publicly share their suicidal thoughts or discuss their body parts with politicians just to be able to participate in something as innocuous as high school sports.
It’s unfair to pretend to care about the well-being of children while actively creating hostile environments to them, and it’s wrong to do it in the name of “fairness” and “women’s rights” while actively ignoring the actual needs of women and girls.
These pieces of legislation are harmful to trans youth who, like so many children during the COVID-19 pandemic, felt isolated and needed support. Taking away the avenue for comradery and support that can be found in high school sports will only further isolate trans youth, who already have a one in three suicide attempt rate according to a 2019 report from The Trevor Project.
Trans youth deserve a space to grow and thrive, whether that’s on a high school sports team or other outlets.
Trans youth deserve a state that supports them and doesn’t use them for political talking points or way to further divide. Trans youth should be supported and allowed the same rights as all kids.