Parents who are afraid of transgender children in youth sports have lost ground

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Before we go any further, I hope everyone agrees, firmly and utterly, that any member of parliament who calls for the idea of ​​fairness in youth sport to provide gynecological examinations to children has completely lost the argument.

We are here with an amendment to a new bill passed by the Ohio House of Representatives earlier this month (the Senate President has said the Senate will hold hearings on related bills this fall). The House bill would require a doctor’s statement classifying “undiscussed” sex as a male or female child. The doctor’s examination would assess the participant’s “internal and external anatomy,” according to the bill, as well as “the participant’s endogenously normal testosterone levels” and “the participant’s genetic makeup analysis.”

“Internal and external anatomy” is a phrase that seems clinical and benign, so it is worth noting that the anatomy assessed would not be the nose or foot; would be genitals. I called the American Academy of Pediatrics to see how they read the language of the bill. Melissa Arnold, director general of the Ohio chapter of the AAP, told me, “Our interpretation is that you should actually see the genitals and, for a woman, do a full gynecological examination.” He added that this would be traumatic for the children, and that he was against the AAP bill.

I contacted the original sponsor of the amendment, Deputy Jena Powell, to see if she had any other explanation as to how a study would be conducted, which would not involve putting 14-year-olds in the stirrups. Her office sent an e-mail, in part, saying, “Parents should be reassured that their daughter will always have a level playing field in our state.” He did not answer my question.

Another thing worth noting is that the bill does not use the word “transgender” or “intersex” but “discuss”. That is to say, if your daughter were to burn my daughter in the 300-meter fence, I could cry and ask for an internal and external investigation. The AAP read it that way too, Arnold said.

The purpose of this column is not to merely lambaste this bill, although it is worthwhile. The fact is that in the discussions about transgender children involved in sports, some of us have become so involved in discussions about testosterone, genetics, and genitals that we have completely, utterly lost the argument.

Perspective: Republicans thought it was easy to define “woman.” Then they tried.

Generally, people who oppose playing sports with their transgender children team members do so using two bad arguments. One: It is not uncommon for transgender girls to share cisgender softball fields or coaches with girls, and it puts them at risk of physical harm. Two: Transgender girls have an unfair biological advantage. Gender girls can’t win against them, the argument goes, so the playing field can never be the same.

Many decent people would admit that the former argument is discriminatory and bigoted, but I have met quite a few people who are moved by the latter because of the often-covered “feminism” of the idea that women should be protected. they are fragile but because we want them to be strong. Their biological makeup, she argues, prevents girls from being as physically strong as transgender. Those who believe this say that they have nothing against trans children in schools or youth groups, but in terms of sports, they think it is fair for girls to be able to compete and win for cisgender girls.

It is this line of thinking that leads to bills like Ohio: that it is not discrimination, but science.

This argument is medically questionable: research on the athletic performance of trans individuals has focused primarily on adults, not children. Also, many school-age trans-athletes don’t dominating the field. They come in third, fourth, or ninth, and as a result, we don’t hear from them. Controversial swimmer Lia Thomas UPenn also finished fifth unidentified at one of the events at the NCAA Championships this spring.

But my biggest problem with the biology-non-bullying argument is that the questions it raises, about hormone nanomoles, and what the doctor sees in an adolescent’s invasive medical examination, don’t give much importance to the concept of youth sport.

Being the mother of a daughter, the most important question is: What is the purpose of my daughter to start doing sports?

That’s the only plot worth keeping. For me, and for everyone else who hasn’t grown up with Katie Ledecky or Naomi Osaka, the goal of the sport is to accept physical fitness, gain a sense of community, improve self-discipline and learn to work hard, teamwork and win and lose. elegantly.

“There are things we agree on that we want for our children,” said Chris Bright, director of public training for the Trevor Project, in the LGBTQ Youth Crisis Intervention Program. When transgender children are banned from playing, Bright said, “We’re saying you don’t deserve to benefit or get into this space.”

It’s nice to win in youth sports, but it’s not necessary. In high school and high school, I swam happily in the fastest record I had in the teams, and then I swam happily in the same teams I was suddenly close to the bottom: I climbed 5 to 5 feet, and my teammates grew.

That’s another valuable lesson in youth sports: that genetics is a lottery. Children learn that there will often be someone who, through no fault of their own, has longer legs or was born with a growth spurt earlier, or that parents can afford private buses and travel groups. All you can do is swim in your race.

So if you tell me that my daughter can only win if she forbids playing with a transgender girl in need of teammates, or if my daughter’s fairness and sports education should involve seeing her mother. demand another girl do a pelvic exam, then I tell you to get your mirror into your chosen hole. I prefer to teach my daughter to proudly accept second place.

When you suggest gynecological exams to other players on your daughter’s team, you are informing them that the goal of the sport is to win at all costs or to exclude others from playing. You are neglecting the most important goal of youth sport: to teach children that if they ever have to choose between being a unique sportsman and being a unique human being, humanity should always win.

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