Last week, legislators in the Georgia State House introduced House Bill 372, which prohibits trans students from participating in athletic programs that affirm their gender identity.
The bill first defines ‘gender’ as “a person’s biological sex at birth and shall be recognized based on a person’s reproductive organs at birth”. It states that no student can be excluded from participation in or treated differently from another student on the basis of this incorrectly and narrowly defined “gender”.
While the bill conflates gender and sex in order to strategically exclude and discriminate against trans youth, experts in sexuality and sexual health, public health, gender studies, and biology define them seperately.
According to the World Health Organization, “gender interacts with but is different from sex, which refers to the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. Gender and sex are related to but different from gender identity. Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt, internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s physiology or designated sex at birth.”
After establishing this definition, the bill states that any athletic activity or event which is conducted exclusively for male students shall only include students whose “gender” is male, and any athletic activity or event which is conducted exclusively for female students shall only include students whose “gender” is female.
For students above 18, or parents and guardians of students under 18, a waiver of this requirement can be requested by providing detailed information about the student’s reproductive organs, genetic makeup, and other “medically relevant factors.” In this case, the athletic association’s governing body will “appoint a panel of three physicians to review such petitions and make recommendations to the athletic association for responding to the petition.”
This bill comes on the heels of many similar bills in state legislatures across the country, in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and North Dakota. Laws that discriminate against trans youth in sports open the doors for further discrimination in access to health care and other issues of autonomy.
According to Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice for the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, “we are on the brink of creating dystopian government systems of sex surveillance– even more egregious than what we currently have,” he stated in a tweet. “It will infringe the autonomy and privacy of all young people if we start to expand the power of the state to define and control who we are in these ways.”
Sources: House Bill 372; Georgia General Assembly 2/11/21; World Health Organization; ACLU Legislation Affecting LGBT Rights Across the Country 1/29/21; Twitter 2/15/21