Across the country and in North Carolina, counties, school boards, and school districts have been enacting laws and policies that are preventing trans and gender-fluid children and teens, and even now in some cases 20-somethings in institutions of higher learning, from taking part in sporting activities.
The reason? In the case of trans females, many conservative voters and elected officials claim their gender assignment at birth gives them an unfair advantage when playing in competitive sports activities against cisgender females.
Despite evidence to the contrary, namely the use of female hormones, which modifies musculature, redistributes body fat, and lessens the individual’s physical capabilities, the debate has exploded into a mixture of feigned fear for children, an LGBTQ witch hunt (with an emphasis on trans), cries of religious discrimination and political pandering.
In North Carolina, as of February 7, the New Hanover County board of education now requires student-athletes to play on teams that correspond with the gender recorded on their birth certificates.
A bill filed in Raleigh the last week of March by Representative Mark Brody (R-Anson and Union counties), stands on the shoulders of legislation already in place in other states and would impact trans youth statewide. “Sex shall be recognized solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” it reads.
“I do not want to wait until biological females are pushed out of female sports, and all of their records are broken, scholarships lost and benefits of excelling are diminished before this is addressed,” Brody said when introducing the bill to the North Carolina House of Representatives.
Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson has responded to the developments in North Carolina.
“We are horrified … sports and athletics are an important part of education for all students, and no child should be denied from participating simply because of who they are. We recognize this [as] a targeted attack on trans youth to take away their rights and delegitimize their identities.
“Anti-trans bills are on the rise across the country, with elected officials using schools as a space to push their bigoted and anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. Queer and trans youth deserve to have the same experiences in school as their peers, and we urge our elected officials to take a stand against this policy and others like it that discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth.”
If there is any question that fear from LGBTQ students over discriminatory policies is real, read their own words.
During the hearing in New Hanover County, Jett Tidd, a transgender student there, confirmed his fear of getting on the school bus because he didn’t want to be bullied.
“It is my fear this is the first step by members of the board who are targeting LGBTQ students to remove policies in place that protect us from harm,” Tidd said.
Another younger, unidentified trans youth addressed Hanover County School board member Melissa Mason directly.
“Mrs. Mason, your campaign website states that you want your children to be kept safe and get a useful education at school. The fear you express for children is the same I, a transgender student, face every single day. I ask you as an elected official, shouldn’t you have the same level of worry for all students or are yours more important or better than students like me?”
Clearly, growing anti-trans sentiment across the United States is impacting LGBTQ youth negatively.
The question arises: after so much positive and forward motion in the LGBTQ movement during the earlier years of the 21st century, how did we get here?
You don’t have to dig very far to find the root cause.
In all likelihood, it began right here in our own state when former one term Governor Pat McCrory launched the first legislative attack on trans individuals by signing off on the anti-LGBTQ HB2 in March 2016. The law became better known as the “bathroom bill,” and sparked a massive backlash nationwide.
McCrory’s outright lies and ill-informed actions – claiming that Trans individuals were predatory animals bent on child molestation and banning them from using the appropriate restrooms – sealed his place in political history as a one term governor. HB2 was later overturned, but it wasn’t forgotten by the Republican Party.
It was tucked away for safekeeping and later use.
All it took was a few more years of Trump-espoused mania and a pandemic to energize the confused and uneducated right wing support base to jump on board the anti-Trans hate train.
That brings us full circle to where we are today: once again claiming Trans folk and anything to do with queer culture is harmful to children, while failing to realize the harm such bigotry and intolerance is actually creating for them.