States Faced with Conundrum regarding Transgender Athletes

Marc Goldstein, Editor in Chief

Youth sports are the grassroots of athletics as participants are given an opportunity to learn skills and teamwork that are so integral to long term success, both in the sport and in life. However, some states have created barriers to these opportunities. Transgender athletes in 11 states are now facing some harsh realities. These transgender individuals, mostly females who were born as males, are now banned from competing in their sports. Some states have made it so athletes are unable to participate due to the “biological differences” that separate males and females in terms of athletic ability and physicality. 

Some argue that these “biological differences” create an uneven playing field, thus forfeiting things like scholarships, awards and even victories from individuals who are cisgender. Some suggest that if the country is committing to equality, then athletes, regardless of their gender at birth, should be allowed to play. 

In the past year, multiple judges and justices have ruled in favor of transgender athletes’ eligibility to play in high school sports. Seemingly, as the country has continued to develop socially, there has been a silent addition to one of the most sacred amendments in the Constitution. The five First Amendment Freedoms have seen a merge with the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment grants rights to vote as well as lawful protection for people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. People who identify as transgender or transitioning are protected as members of society, which is cited in many recent of the court cases. 

The scrutiny these laws have received have sparked an important debate in the country: are transgender people truly given a fair chance in society. After Iowa governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill that restricted the eligibility of transgender women in high school sports, the amount of scrutiny received was significant, but there was a lot of support for this legislation. Notably, many representatives in DC have voiced endorsements for the restriction citing “competitive advantage” created by allowing an individual that was born as a male to compete in female sports. Reynolds cited “basic human biology,” continuing by saying, “Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”

Even though some  states are passing these laws, the issue has not been settled. The federal government has made it clear publicly that they will reprimand states who pass and enact these laws to include economic sanctions. 

For many transgender athletes, they are put in an awkward position, something the Democrats want to eliminate. Much like other issues such as abortion rights, people on each side of the issue believe there is one solution to the issue.