Shepherdstown, W.Va., – Within the past few weeks, the rights of transgender women and transgender girls have been in the political spotlight.
Last month, a Georgia state committee passed the Senate Bill 266. This bill will ban transgender girls from participating in public and private school athletic events and from being members of girls’ sports teams.
This bill is under the Save Girls’ Sports Act, which has gathered a total of 18 sponsors within Georgia state government. Sponsors of the bill (and of similar bills throughout the country) claim that it is a protection of cisgender women and girls.
Opponents to the bill, however, claim that there is no scientific evidence that the inclusion of transgender women and girls is harmful to the opportunities of those who are cisgender. Many opponents also claim that these bills could be Title IX violations, which forbid sexual discrimination within federally funded education programs.
Some people have also cited confusion with this sudden heightened and intense interest in the matter, with one upperclassman Shepherd athlete stating: “I’ve never given [trans women in sports teams] any thought. The title of this bill [Save Girls’ Sports Act] implies girls’ sports are in peril of never being the same, which seems like an exaggeration to me.”
Ryan Marketell of Shepherd’s baseball team expressed similar concerns with the sudden increase interest with women’s sports, bringing into question the accuracy of the bill’s title: “[Save Girls’ Sports Act] gives the impression that girls sports need saving if transgender women compete in women’s sports. I don’t see a problem with women sports today and the title suggests it does [present a problem].”
This state bill has sparked heated debate throughout the country, as there are similar proposed bills circulating in at least 19 other states. As of March 25, West Virginia is one of those states who has passed a similar bill. This bill was passed overwhelmingly with a 78-to-20 vote.
Unlike the Georgia bill, this bill appears to be more expansive—targeting both transgender girls and transgender boys, citing a lawful requirement for “single-sex participation” in school sports.
These bills currently do not affect public universities, but that does not mean those institutions are free from the conversation, and it is only a matter of time before universities begin to address the subject.
Throughout these past few weeks, there seems to be a lack of voice given to transgender students. In fact, there seems to be little circulation of students’ voices altogether. It goes without saying that these bills are important, especially as they impact the country’s future generations.
Legislation that confronts an already heavily targeted demographic should not be taken lightly. Studies show that a mental health crisis is surging among teens of the LGBTQ+ community in both secondary education and on college campuses. Their voices need to be heard, and hopefully institutions, such as college campuses, will amplify these voices.