Editorial: Trans students should be included in sports

On Oct. 25, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 25 into effect which states that student athletes in grades K-12 must compete based on the sex they were assigned at birth. UIL currently allows athletes to compete with the gender they identify with if it’s changed on their birth certificate, but HB25 would ban it. This bill is discriminatory and targets trans student athletes.

From a young age, many trans women aren’t given the opportunity to compete in sports. Although trans women do have a physical advantage in some ways, they are largely outnumbered in women’s sports. In the most recent Olympic Games, there were four trans athletes out of all 11,656 competing. The opportunity to play sports is shown to improve students’ confidence, leadership, focus and grades as well as have positive effects on mental health.

According to a study done by Stonewall, a British-based LGBTQ+ rights organization, 83 percent of trans youth have experienced verbal abuse, 27 percent have attempted suicide and 41 percent of trans people have experienced physical attacks. Socialization is critical for development and trans students will miss out on monumental childhood experiences, making them feel further alienated and emotionally distant from their peers.

Arguing that a genetic advantage should eliminate trans athletes from competing is hypocritical. If a genetic advantage was the issue, all sports would be sorted into weight classes, or by height. Although women are shorter on average than men and men are stronger on average than women, there are exceptions to this rule, even in cisgender athletes. Also, student athletes are far from Olympians. School sports teams are meant to bring students together and teach teamwork, cooperation and school spirit — not to win medals. Trans students face discrimination, dysphoria and a number of other struggles. To even pretend that this performance is a valid argument is disingenuous. These laws are not to protect cis students, but to target trans students.

Another misconception is the predator myth – the idea that cisgender sexual predators will dress up as the opposite sex to commit sexual assault. This myth has made some people uncomfortable with trans people in locker rooms. There have been bans against sexual discrimination, which allow trans people access to the bathroom or locker room for the gender which they identify. The rates of sexual assault on cis people do not go up.

Studies have shown again and again that trans women are at a much higher risk of assault than cisgender women. In a study by the UCLA Williams Institute, nearly 10 percent of trans people said they had faced physical assault and nearly 70 percent said they experienced verbal harassment in a gender-separated bathroom or locker room. This argument is merely a scare tactic and is based on no real evidence. To perpetuate this myth is deadly.