Transphobia has been a clearly prevalent issue in the US as transgender people continue to be the victims of violent hate crimes and murders. Furthermore, beyond the obvious and blatant attacks on the trans community through assault, people in power such as government officials have found another way to make their transphobia explicit yet discreet. Through proposing transphobic laws, they have established a strategy where they can continue to oppress the trans community without getting their hands dirty. 2021 has become a year where a record number of anti-transgender legislations have been passed by certain state governments. March 13th marked the week of 82 anti-transgender bills being introduced, just surpassing the 79 anti-transgender bills that were passed in 2020 and making it the highest in history. The recurring focus of several of these bills is banning transgender youth from playing in sports in middle school, high school and college.
The states passing these transphobic bills include Montana, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, and Utah. Their government’s argument is that these bills are needed to ensure equality and abolish unfair advantages. Officials continue acting as if there is no transphobic agenda behind it at all. These conservative governments utilize fear-mongering to get more people on board with this campaign against transgender youth by claiming that transgender women in sports will take away opportunities from cisgender women. They allege that cisgender women and girls participating would be physically outmatched by the transgender women.
However, these government officials are ignoring the fact that unfair advantages have always been present in sports and will continue to be present. Michael Phelps, for example, possesses a genetically advantaged body for a swimmer with a wing-span larger than his height as well as double jointed ankles that give his kicks extreme range. Furthermore, Phelps’ body produces half the lactic acid compared to his average competitor so he is much less fatigued during races according to The Washington Post. Altogether, these assets gave Phelps an advantage and increased chance of winning.
Moreover, socio-economic status also contributes to unfair advantages in sports. Some student athletes are born into wealthy families and therefore can afford additional professional coaching and club sports. By the Mississippi state government's logic, these athletes should be prohibited from playing school sports as they will have a more refined skill set and take away opportunities from lower income students who cannot afford to participate in sports outside of school.
This is why I say that banning transgender athletes from playing sports is absurd unless state governments could resolve the inequality resulted by both genetic and socio-economic differences. Or, the more rational thing to do would be to accept that differences in athletes’ inherent qualities will exist in sports. The fact that these state governments are only targeting the issue of trans people’s advantages speaks volumes. Clearly these laws are meant to target specific groups of people based on their gender identity which is nothing other than shameless discrimination. An individual’s personal prejudice should never dictate laws citizens are forced to live by. This type of state enforced discreet discrimination can have serious consequences and continue this cycle of oppression by people in power.