Yesterday it was announced that representatives from Texas school districts had overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal aimed at barring transgender boys and girls from participating in athletics alongside their cisgender peers.
The Texas Observer reports “District superintendents and athletic directors voted 409-25 in favor of using birth certificates to determine student athletes’ gender, according to results obtained by the Observer through a request under the Texas Public Information Act.
This is not a well-informed or inclusive policy, and ranks Texas among the worst states in the nation for transgender youth.
This policy actively excludes students whose gender identity does not match their birth certificate – a document that is challenging for a young person to change. It forces students to negotiate their own gender identity in a way that stalls their ability to be their authentic selves, and is a barrier to inclusion.
There are many documented physical, emotional, social, and educational benefits associated with playing sports that last into adulthood. These include characteristics, skills, and values I personally developed through athletics, such as leadership skills, teamwork, communicating with others, goal setting, dedication, my work ethic, and perseverance, among many others.
Trans people practice the last of these mentioned, perseverance, every day by existing in a society which tells them they do not belong and are not wanted. High school is a time when all young people struggle with self confidence and long for acceptance from peers, but trans students face discrimination at a higher rate than their cisgender peers, and they are constantly “othered” by peers, teachers, and administrators who are not educated or equipped to support trans students. It is the responsibility of those in charge to stand up and advocate for all students, and Texas has failed to do so.
Texas is denying transgender youth the opportunity to connect with others, enjoy competitiveness and the benefits of physical activity, and have a high school experience similar to their peers.
At the high school level, the focus should be on enabling athletic participation for all students. Texas school leaders have a responsibility to ensure that transgender athletes can participate in a way that is safe, comfortable, and affirming of their identity.
Allowing athletes to participate in accordance to their affirmed gender identity the best policy when considering equity and fairness for all students.
For more information on high school policies for transgender athletes, visit the K-12 page of TransAthlete.com.
For tips on how to create inclusive policies for high school trans athletes, click here.