Education Health LGBT Rights LGBTQ Sports

Kansas Senate Passes Bill Targeting Trans Student-Athletes

On Wednesday, the Kansas Senate passed a bill banning transgender students from girls’ and women’s school sports. The measure passed 24-10, sending it to Kansas’ conservative House. 

Governor Laura Kelly referred to the bill as “regressive,” and said that the controversial policy could repel businesses from the state, which supporters dismissed.

One legislator, Representative Stephanie Byers, stated concern for the severe impact a ban like this could have on transgender youth. 

“We’re not talking just trans athletes. We’re talking any trans kid. When they see this put in front of them, the emotional exhaustion of fighting society around you to be who you are, that sometimes leads to those suicide rates being five times higher than the rest of the population,” Byers said.

Conservatives in state legislatures across the country are pushing for similar transphobic bans. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a measure last week banning transgender students from participating in girls’ sports. The South Dakota legislature passed a ban in early March, which the governor intends to sign.

A similar proposed ban failed in South Carolina on Tuesday— lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted down a bill that sought to ban transgender students from participating in girl’s and women’s middle and high school sports. 

Advocates in the state celebrated the fall of this bill. South Carolina United for Justice and Equality said in their statement that “this bill– and any other bill that discriminates against transgender people– has no place in South Carolina. Trans youth should be included, affirmed, and be afforded the same opportunities as any other student.”

More than 40 medical professionals signed a letter to oppose this bill. It read: “Transgender students, like other students, deserve the same chances to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership and self discipline, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers. When we tell transgender girls that they can’t play girls’ sports — or transgender boys that they can’t play boys’ sports — they miss out, and being excluded can lead to harmful outcomes with regard to social and emotional well being.”

These attacks on transgender athletes are part of a larger epidemic of transphobia that lawmakers have perpetuated. In Alabama, the state legislature voted to ban trans youth from accessing gender-affirming care and force school staff to “out” trans students to their parents if they believe or know that the student is trans. 

Sam Brinton, VP of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project, said in a statement that “this legislation will endanger young trans lives in Alabama. It contradicts the consensus of major medical associations and the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates how affirming transgender and nonbinary youth in their identities reduces suicide risk and improves health.”

Sources: AP News 3/18/21; KMBC News 3/18/21; Feminist Newswire 2/16/21; The State 3/16/21; CBS News 3/3/21

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