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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order requiring all city agencies to ensure that everyone in NYC has access to bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity or expression. The executive order stipulates that no one will be required to show identification, medical documents, or any other documentation to verify their gender in order to use the facilities.
City agencies have three months to post this new policy, and will be required to provide training for city agency managers and front line staff who interface with the public.
As a transgender athlete who was denied access to a locker room in a public facility, I appreciate Mayor de Blasio’s effort to protect LGBTQ people in New York City. This policy will protect not only LGBTQ New Yorkers, but also all of the guests we have in our city. This makes NYC one of the most inclusive places for transgender athletes.
The key piece of this is the educational component. By requiring training for both supervisors and front line workers, we will ensure this will not be another posted policy that people ignore or forget. This will change the culture of our city services, including NYC Parks and Recreation facilities, which operates more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 550 tennis courts, 66 public pools, 48 recreational facilities, 17 nature centers, 13 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches in the five boroughs.
In the past six months, I have presented on LGBTQ Inclusion in NYC Recreation Spaces twice, to over 100 front line workers and managers. I applaud NYC Parks and Recreation for their proactive approach to incorporating this training in their inclusion summits and ongoing education, and look forward to seeing other city agencies get trained as well. Using the bathroom is a basic human need, and all people should be allowed to do so without jumping through hoops.
New York City’s public schools already has a policy that students must be allowed to use locker rooms or restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
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.
I was lucky enough to be on The Takeaway this week, talking trans athletes and policy.The Takeaway, is collaborative show from PRI Public Radio International and WNYC Radio, with editorial partners The New York Times and WGBH Boston. The program’s goal is to advance an authentic American conversation on issues and topics of importance. I love doing radio shows – so far they have been great conversations and very well edited.
Also, I am impressed (but not surprised) with my friends, many of whom told me they either woke up to my voice or heard me during their morning routine. I love listeners of Public Radio!
Listen to the short segment here.
The Olympics are reportedly opening the field of competition to transgender athletes by adopting an updated policy that reflects standards already adopted by other regulatory sports organizations.
As first reported by Outsports, in November the International Olympic Committee received new proposed guidelines from its “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism,” allowing for broader policies for the inclusion of transgender athletes.
Olympics officials have yet to announce formally that the Games have adopted the new guidelines, which can be found on their website. If formally adopted, the potential rules update would bring the Olympics in line with the standards already employed by the NCAA in the United States by allowing both male-to-female and female-to-male transgender athletes to compete without having had surgery.
The Olympics already had rules formally allowing and acknowledging trans athletes’ right to compete but with specific provisions under the Stockholm Consensus adopted in 2004 before the Olympics in Athens: Transgender athletes had to have gender reassignment surgery; they must have legal recognition of the gender they were assigned at birth; and they had to have undergone at least two years of hormone replacement therapy after surgery. The proposed new rules would bring the Olympics in line with the NCAA’s standard of one year of hormone replacement therapy — with no surgical requirement — before being allowed to compete.