The bill, misleading titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” allows cisgender girls to sue if a school violates the law, a framing that further allows for bullying and harassment against trans girls and potentially more isolation and ostracization from their peers. The bill specifically targets trans girls, not trans boys, meaning that transgender boys could hypothetically play on the boys’ sports teams. But this isn’t a real win so much as it speaks to how limited and specific the Republican rallying cry here is—angle this about fairness in girls’ sports and protecting women and they’re hoping to get voters on board.
Mills, like so many conservatives before him, couldn’t bring up any specific situations where this has been an issue in the state. Instead, he claimed he’d been told by parents of [cisgender] female athletes that they were concerned.
“I believe there are openings to where a biological male could be competing as a female in their junior and senior year in high school after they meet the qualifications that are in the regulations currently,” Mills said according to local outlet WDRB, though again, no specific situations were offered. It’s all hypotheticals. And again, note the intentional use of language like “biological male” instead of the factually accurate and inclusive “transgender girl.”
“Sports is a great way for me to cope with things,” Fischer Wells, an openly trans high schooler who plays field hockey in Louisville, Kentucky, said at the recent hearing. She bravely shared that passing legislature like this would have a negative impact on her mental health. Her parents, too, support her and how much of a positive impact playing sports has had on her.
Wells is far from alone in that—trans youth have disproportionate levels of mental health struggles, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Research shows that support and affirmation are two enormous factors when it comes to trans mental health, including in young people.
From here, the measure heads to the Senate, which, like the committee, has a Republican stronghold. I wish I could say I felt certain it would sizzle out, but anti-trans measures like this one have already been signed into law by a handful of Republican governors. Vulnerable trans youth don’t have the option to simply leave states with these transphobic pieces of legislation, and frankly, no one should have to leave their home simply to gain basic rights and protections.
It’s up to all of us to stand against every single one of these anti-trans measures—clearly, conservatives are trying to make this perspective the new “normal,” but it’s far from it.
Sign the petition: Demand the Senate pass the Equality Act and protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination.