Transgender girls will no longer be able to participate in girls' sports
Today, June 1st of 2021, is the first day of Pride Month, a month where LGBTQ people celebrate diversity and culture, as well as the gains made over the years encompassing a span of LGBTQ rights. Also today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial law that's been debated hotly among political pundits and basically everyone paying attention for months now: the one that disallows transgender girls from participating in girls' sports statewide. It's called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, and Governor DeSantis views it as a way to keep the playing field even and sports competitions.
Transgender girls are girls who were born and listed as biologically male on their birth certificate and transitioned into girlhood later in life.
It will affect children in school, not adults in private businesses where adults compete.
The law isn't really anything new, however, as other Republican-led states have been passing these kinds of laws since 2020, with Idaho taking the lead and signing one such bill into law as early as August of 2020.
Governor Ron DeSantis and other proponents of these bills argue that allowing people who have the biology of someone who was born a male into female sports categories would create an unfair advantage for those who've transitioned. The Governor specifically cited biology as his reason for signing the bill.
People who are born males have larger and longer bones, and this means they have a frame that can support a larger build, more muscle mass, and it bestows those people with several advantages in terms of contact sports. Not to mention, males are generally much taller.
The tallest player ever in the WNBA, the Women's National Basketball Association, was Malgorzata Dydek, from Russia, who is 7'2" tall. From there, the 2nd tallest was 6'9" and it works its way down from there, which is considered medium-sized for a male basketball player, with several male players topping out at 7'6", and the tallest male player ever was 7'7".
The average height of a male NBA player is roughly equal to all of the tallest players in the WNBA with the exception of Malgorzata Dydek.
Detractors of the law say it unfairly discriminates against children who are transgender. They also say it goes against national and global standards of adult sporting competitions where transgender athletes are allowed to compete in the category they identify as. There's also very little in the way of scientific study into the performance differences of transgender athletes. For all we know, the bill may not result in any substantial or meaningful changes in the way sports are conducted for young girls.
There are also the big, lingering questions that come along with this kind of conversation every time it crops up. What advantages are people given when they take hormones such as testosterone in order to transition? Using testosterone as a steroid is illegal and the practice banned by international anti-doping laws. Anyone who remembers the 1990s remembers many MLB players being suspended and kicked out of the Major League for the use of testosterone as a performance enhancer.
There's also a long-running, unsettled debate about whether or not we should be giving children hormones to help them transition, with those in favor saying that these drugs confirm a child's identity, while those against say the risks outweigh any potential benefits and these powerful steroids could easily end up in the wrong child's hands.
And all of this comes on the heels of several bills, like the one in North Carolina that bans transgender youth care for anyone under 21 years old, that ban transgender affirming care, or, care that helps young people transition under the age of 18. Twenty-one states are considering such bills as of late May, meaning we have a robust debate ahead of us on how we proceed with transgender care.
The central question seems to be who you trust more in terms of transgender youth healthcare and athletic performance decisions. Do you trust the government to make those calls? Or do you trust medical doctors and parents to make those calls? And Governor Ron DeSantis has chosen the government.
It's a political hot-button issue and Governor Ron DeSantis just pressed the button. This is sure to flood our social media feeds over the coming days and weeks, so be prepared to see a lot of discussion pertaining to transgender athletes.