October 25, 2021

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If this discriminatory sports bill in Texas is giving you deja vu, imagine how trans youth feel

“Our constituents expect us to see problems that are coming, and not wait till there’s a disaster till everything falls apart and try to fix it,” Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, who authored the bill, said on Wednesday in an effort to explain why the state supposedly needs to legislate an issue when, well, there isn’t an issue. “We don’t have to wait till it’s a big problem in Texas.”

Democrats and advocates have endlessly pointed out the reality that while Republicans insist trans athletes pose a threat to cisgender athletes—and especially cisgender girls—they actually don’t. Trans youth don’t “steal” wins or opportunities from anyone. Trans girls (or trans boys) competing on the appropriate teams doesn’t mean a cisgender girl is being put on the backburner or that we’re stepping backward in feminism.

“The facts of the matter are that trans kids are not decimating their cisgender peers in sports,” Emmett Schelling, executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, told MSNBC in an interview, adding that this scenario is “not a real thing that’s happening.”

Republicans have tried to argue that trans youth who take gender-affirming, age-appropriate hormonal treatments have an inherent advantage, but actual medical professionals and experts in the field have continued to point out this is not the case. Republicans, of course, couldn’t care less about cisgender women, as evidence by the extreme anti-choice abortion law in the very same state, but when it comes to excluding a marginalized group, sure, they’ll rally on behalf of giving women an “equal” chance in sports.

“We all know men and women are built differently,” Swanson said before referring to trans girls as “biological males.” As reported by local outlet KVUE, she argued that saying otherwise “doesn’t just reject biology, it denies girls their dignity, self-confidence, and humanity.”

Trans girls are girls, whether that’s reflected on their birth certificates or driver’s licenses—or, frankly, whether Swanson wants to admit it. These anti-trans measures are denying girls their confidence, humanity, and dignity—trans girls, specifically.

Once again, advocates gave emotional testimonies. Aaron Richie, father to two openly trans teenagers, said both of his children dread this time because they’re stressed in anticipation of bills that are going to “debate what rights and opportunities they should have.” 

Amber Briggle, the parent of an openly trans teenager, said she was “mad as hell” for having to show up and testify over a bill that targets her trans son. She stressed that a teenager shouldn’t have to deal with this, which is, of course, true.

“I want him to go to gymnastics,” Briggs told lawmakers. “I want him to go to taekwondo. I want him to do well in school, and I don’t want to have him worry about this because I saw how much it harmed him in April and May.”

The harm, mind you, is very real. As research has shown time and time again, trans youth suffer higher rates of suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety when compared to their cisgender peers. Trans students also face higher rates of bullying and harassment while at school and are even more likely to leave school without a diploma and become homeless.

MSNBC reports that the Transgender Education Network of Texas has gotten reports from parents of trans youth that their children have experienced some of the “worst bullying” they’ve ever had to face during the recent anti-trans hysteria in the state. The Trevor Project, a non-profit LGBTQ+ hotline for youth, reported a 150% jump in calls from Texas children and teens when compared to the same period in 2020.

After hours of emotional labor from advocates, Texas lawmakers in committee still, however, voted to move the bill to the full Texas House. More than 290 people registered opposition to the discriminatory bill, while 55 registered support, according to Texas Signal. Still, lawmakers voted along party lines. 

You can catch some brief testimony here. And here are some free mental health resources and some simple tips on how you can support your trans loved ones. 

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