Senate File 51 isn’t about discrimination. At least that’s what bill supporters say.
No, supporters say Senate File 51, legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from playing sports on teams consistent with their gender, is about protecting girls. Protecting fairness in women’s sports.
Fairness is a worthy goal. But Senate File 51 is not about protecting fairness in women’s sports.
If it were, Senate File 51 would tackle the actual threats to women’s sports such as severe underfunding, lack of media coverage, sexist ideologies that suggest that women and girls are weak, and pay equity for coaches.
If it were, legislators wouldn’t be eager to jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding for women’s sports and violating existing NCAA policies.
If it were, then it wouldn’t go against major women’s organizations, like the National Organization for Women, the Women’s Law Project, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women Leaders in College Sports, that supports transgender women and girls’ inclusion in sports.
No, this is not about protecting fairness in women’s sports.
Rather, Senate File 51 is an attack on transgender women and girls that will cause them serious emotional and physical harm. If there were any doubt about this, one would only have to quickly scan news headlines to realize that transgender youth are under attack in states across the country. From Texas politicians branding affirming parents of trans kids as child abusers to legislation in states representing every region of the US, the fact is that transgender young people are under threat everywhere. Senate File 51 is no different.
It prevents transgender women and girls from having the opportunity to play sports and have their personal dignity respected.
It undermines the authority of the Wyoming High School Activities Association and the NCAA, governing boards that already have clear policies on the inclusion of transgender student athletes.
And it’s a violation of both the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which protects all students – including those who are transgender – from discrimination based on sex.
The only thing that Senate File 51 protects is the ability for people to discriminate against transgender people.
Athletic success is based on many factors that vary sport to sport. Just as there is no one way to be trans, there is no one trans body. Trans athletes, like all other athletes, do not have just one body type; there is absolutely no merit to the claim that women and girls who are transgender automatically have advantages in sports.
These false stereotypes shouldn’t get to put transgender kids in a box that dictates what goals they can pursue, how they can express themselves, and what kind of life they get to lead. People of all genders, all races, all income levels, all backgrounds – everyone – wants to be free from these types of boxes and deserves to live a life where they can fully express themselves, pursue their dreams, and connect authentically with others.
Trans students’ humanity, dignity, and ability to be full members of their school communities should never be up for debate like this. Denying trans people the right to participate in everyday society is discrimination and it doesn’t just hurt trans people, it hurts all of us.
Eroding the fundamental rights of transgender people is dangerous for every one of us. When the government has the power to deny legal rights to one group, all Americans’ rights are severely threatened.
It’s time to stop these attacks and the very real harm they cause to transgender people across Wyoming. Transgender people belong everywhere in Wyoming – including sports.