Friday, June 25, 2021

Thoughts on transgender bill

| May 10, 2021 6:15 AM

Regarding HB 112, the debate over limiting transgender kids in sports needs to become a conversation of how do we include kids who are unique, instead of how can we ban kids we don’t understand.

The argument to limit transgender kids is a reductive red-herring based on a false threat that does not exist and implies we should be afraid of a few transgender children. These students are already marginalized and face multiple obstacles in the school environment. Transgender kids who choose to join sports likely just want to participate in a game they love and want to feel included in an activity that others take for granted.

Testosterone levels apparently differ about 10 percent between men and women, but more testosterone does not alone equate to better performance. Many sports require diverse abilities, technical skill

sets, and tactical knowledge that may take years to develop. According to Dr. Eric Vilain, advisor to the IOC transgender policy, higher testosterone is associated with higher performance in a few track and field disciplines and minimal performance gains in other sports or disciplines. Let us not forget that different levels of development already exist in school sports. Currently some sports have young 6th graders competing with 8th graders in late puberty. On some teams young freshmen play alongside seniors. In some small towns, co-ed club teams are the only option. Girls have joined football and wrestling teams, and these cases have been accommodated and even welcomed or lauded as pioneering. And yet, we are worried about the possibility of a few transgender kids in sports.

When most kids just want to feel included and have a semblance of normality, we are afraid of some advantage transgender kids may play with. This is clearly a complex issue

that requires more thoughtfulness than the legislature and HB 112 are using now. Many organizations already have policies in place that make the playing field of competitive sports fair and inclusive. Let’s look at those.

The real conversation should be what can schools do to make all students feel safer and more included. So let’s develop policies based on science rather than fear.

Wakefield Troy

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Columbia Falls