Opinion: We need to protect the transgender youth

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"Protect transgender students" by vpickering is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The rights of transgender female student-athletes all across America are under fire with the new Florida bill, “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” This bill will prohibit transgender females from playing on female sports teams. The bill exposes the dangers and difficulties facing the transgender community. We need to educate ourselves and others in the community to ensure the safety of these children.

Content Warning: This story contains themes of suicide and self-harm

We live in a world where people of all ages are ridiculed and shunned simply because of how they interpret their own gender. 

This bill targets young transgender children that want to play gender-confirming sports.”

— Op-Ed Editor Rachel Laposka

Transgender and non-binary people are constantly under fire, and for what? Because they are comfortable enough in their own identity to identify however they want? It is a personal decision that affects nobody other than themselves. 

Despite the fact that it is a personal choice that does not bring harm to anyone else, it is still a choice that is frowned upon in most countries, the United States being one of them. 

One of the court cases that has been circulating in the media lately is a bill from Florida that would prohibit transgender children from playing sports. Lawmakers justify this by stating it would provide an unfair advantage to teams if a transgender woman were to participate in women’s sports. 

While it is true that men are typically stronger than women, it is a fact used to justify blatant transphobia. Also, do not forget that it is children we are talking about here. It is not like we are talking about professional sports. This bill targets young transgender children that want to play gender-confirming sports.

[T]he school has the right to perform a physical examination that would confirm or deny a student being transgender.”

— Op-Ed Editor Rachel Laposka

Transgender women are the most affected by this bill, seeing as it only affects women’s sports. Transgender men are still allowed to play on male sports teams. It is incredibly ironic — the bill, which is titled “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” was created to promote female equality. If female equality is so important to these bill makers, then all women should be included, not just the cisgender women. 

What is truly disgusting about this bill is the inspection of transgender kids’ genitalia. If a person on a sports team is suspected to be transgender, the school has the right to perform a physical examination that would confirm or deny a student being transgender. 

The physical examination includes a check of the student’s genitalia, genetic makeup, and testosterone levels. These examinations are dehumanizing transgender women and in the name of “equality” at that. 

People will fight tooth and nail to undermine the transgender community with zero regards to how it will affect their emotional state. Not only will this bill lead to transgender women feeling dehumanized, but it can also increase the potential for mental illness and bullying in schools.

Now that schools are targeting these minorities, there will be fewer safe spaces for transgender youth to be themselves.”

— Op-Ed Editor Rachel Laposka

Transgender youth, mainly those who are over 15 years old, are 46% more likely to be diagnosed with depression, 40% more likely to self-harm, and 52% more likely to seriously consider suicide. Transgender youth make up a majority of youth-related mental health statistics with numbers increasing each year.

A leading factor for these worsening mental health issues is due to extreme bullying in schools. Because they do not identify with their assigned gender at birth, transgender and gender non-conforming students are at a higher risk for bullying in schools. In 2019, 48% of transgender individuals experienced a case of aggravated assault

Now that schools are targeting these minorities, there will be fewer safe spaces for transgender youth to be themselves. 

Crimes and acts of violence against the transgender community will only get worse with the new bill. This bill highlights gender stereotypes and paints transgender people in a negative light. A lack of media representation and general knowledge of the transgender community can attribute to this. 

Rarely do we see a transgender or gender non-conforming character in TV shows or movies. Due to this, people are not as educated about the community as a whole. This lack of knowledge leaves people ignorant of the transgender community and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis.

If people can begin to do research on the transgender community and educate themselves and others, then every space can be a safe place for a transgender person. Until we can get to that point, we must do our best to protect members of the community. We need to protect them from bills like the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

Respect people’s gender identification and pronouns. Transgender men are still men and transgender women are still women. They should be treated as such without hesitation. 

Opinions expressed in editorials are those of the writer(s).  These views may not represent the adviser, The Prowler, advertisers/sponsors, the Starr’s Mill High School administration or staff , or Fayette County Public Schools as a whole.  Please see our FAQs for more information pertaining to the rights of The Prowler’s staff members.

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