It is not the gender, it’s the person: Michigan’s attempt to ban transgender athletes

Cooper Lewis, 26’ Sport’s Editor

Earlier this year, the Michigan House Appropriations Committee—currently held by the Republican party—proposed a bill banning boys from participating in girls’ sports. In truth, the bill never included the word, “transgender,” or any word related to such, but the message and to who it was applied, was as clear as day.

Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s LGBTQ Project, said, “Boys don’t play on girl’s teams. We don’t see that in high school. This is about transgender girls.”

State Representative Thomas Albert, who is a part of the House Appropriations Committee, claimed that the bill was about the fairness of the issue, and was not meant to be cruel or mention anyone in particular. Albert said, “There are advantages that men have biologically that give them an advantage when it comes to competitive sports. Just physically, we’re stronger, we’re faster. And I just don’t think it’s fair for girls. I think it puts them at a competitive disadvantage.” He added,, “I just want my daughters to have the same opportunities as my sons.”

On the other side of this argument is Democrat House Member Regina Weiss. Weiss, along with two other Democrats, voted no to this bill. Weiss said, “Being a kid is hard enough, especially in today’s world. When kids are growing up and figuring out who they are, the last thing they need is a bunch of adults trying to shame them, segregate, and marginalize them.” She also described the bill as “needlessly cruel.”

Agreeing with Weiss is Erin Knott— a member of Equality Michigan, an organization dedicated to serving LGBT members of the community— said, “You treat the transgender female students as a young women between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., but then you treat her as if she’s a young man, when it’s time for sports to have their practice, it’s inconsistent.” 

If a person identifies as transgender, they should have their identity respected throughout all aspects of their life, not only when it is convenient for politicians who are trying to further an agenda. Freshman Jacob Weir, who plays lacrosse and runs cross country for SLHS, expressed his thoughts on this bill, saying, “The categorization of sports should be based on one’s physical capitablies rather than the one’s assigned gender at birth.”

Do the physical capabilities of boys and girls have anything to do with this? Well, not really. Sure, boys have been shown in some cases to be physically stronger and faster, but this does not mean that girls cannot outperform their male peers.

In fact, numerous scientific studies have been performed, proving that women are stronger than men in some aspects. For example, women retain more strength in their legs than men, meaning they can bike, swim and run longer than men are able to. Women might have lower muscle mass, yes, but not muscle strength. 

Gender is not a factor in this circumstance, it is the person. The person can decide as to whether or not they can become just as strong. No more with the ‘boys are already stronger, it should stay that way,’ or, ‘girls are weaker, they cannot be stronger than boys.’

Those were the mindsets of society in the past, and it is time to start creating a new mindset, one that does not fit the standards of stereotypes.

This bill is unneeded and hinders the ability of trans athletes to have a fair experience. People should be allowed to identify however they want, and their identity should never be used as ammunition in a fight to pass bigoted legislation. Transgender men are men and transgender women are women, and to treat them as anything less is to do a disservice.

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