On Wednesday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, signed yet another anti-trans measure into law. As has been the trend in recent months, this legislation focuses on the new Republican mission: keeping trans youth—and specifically, transgender girls and women—out of girls’ sports. In the case of West Virginia, the law bans transgender girls and women from competing on sports teams associated with public schools at the high school or state college level. Like other bills, this legislation defines gender based on sex assigned at birth instead of one’s actual gender identity.
"I'm absolutely all in,” Justice said at a news conference earlier as this week, as reported by CNN, “because I do not think that from the standpoint of our girls, that we ought to allow a situation to where, you know, for whatever reason may be, we end up with a superior athlete that could just knock our girls right out of the competition.” This language, of course, affirms the transphobic belief that transgender girls are not girls and that only cisgender girls are “girls.” And as Daily Kos continues to cover, West Virginia is hardly alone in making strides in these legislations.
Also on Wednesday, Florida lawmakers sent SB 2012, deceptively called “Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity,” an anti-trans sports bill, to the desk of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Florida’s situation is a bit complex, as the bill initially appeared to fizzle out in the chambers after passing in the Florida House of Representatives. Republican Rep. Kaylee Tuck, however, amended it into a charter school bill in the House, which passed, and then passed again in the Senate.
Florida’s initial bill included permission for schools to inspect the genitals of students accused or suspected of being transgender girls. This particular legislation got a wide amount of scrutiny and outrage on the national level, which is perhaps part of why it did not move forward. Now, however, the measure has been amended to say schools would refer to the sex listed on the student’s original birth certificate instead. So, while schools won’t be conducting medical exams of an adolescent’s genitals, they would be able to do what a growing number of states are pushing for, which is to use the sex assigned at birth instead of someone’s actual gender identity as a means of excluding vulnerable trans youth.
Even the ongoing specification of the original birth certificate is a barrier, as some people do update their birth certificates and other official documents (like a license or state ID). Thinking especially of older youth, like high schoolers or even college athletes, it’s simply baffling that someone could be recognized as their actual gender identity in the eyes of the federal government (say, on a passport) but not when it comes to playing high school soccer.
In a different anti-trans area, the Texas state Senate passed a bill this week that would make giving gender-affirming health care to transgender youth child abuse, as reported by the Texas Tribune. What would count as child abuse in this legislation? Administering puberty blockers, hormones, or gender-affirming surgery. Even consenting to have a minor receive these treatments would count as child abuse, which means this legislation targets both physicians and parents. The legislation now heads to the Texas House.
You might remember 10-year-old Kai Shappley appearing before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs earlier in April, where she spoke about herself, including being a transgender girl, and stressed how important it is not to criminalize gender-affirming care. She also politely implored the adults in the room to educate themselves, which should have been a humbling wake-up call for every elected official watching.
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