Answering Your Questions About Recent Transgender Bills
Right now an unprecedented number of states are introducing and voting on bills that center around transgender youth. These laws are part of a nation-wide push to deny transgender people rights and access to public spaces.
Learn more about the basics of what it means to be transgender, as well as the reality of these harmful and unnecessary bills:
Trans 101 Sports Bills Youth Healthcare Bills
What does it mean to be transgender?
Transgender simply means that a person’s gender identity is not the same as the assigned sex at birth. Most people are assigned “male” or “female” by doctors when they are born – but this isn’t their gender. Gender identity (or simply gender) is a person’s internal view of themselves. Gender identity develops early – children start conceptualizing as early as 3 years old and typically have a stable sense of their gender by 7 years old. Cisgender means a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Not all children may feel comfortable expressing or have the words to explain how they are feeling until they are much older. No matter what age someone comes out or questions their gender identity they are valid.
Intersex is an umbrella term for unique variations in reproductive or sex anatomy. Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries. Some intersex traits are identified at birth, while others may not be discovered until puberty or later in life. A person can be both intersex and transgender. These bills affect both transgender and intersex youth.
Gender is a spectrum.
Although the first words that you may think of when you think of gender may be “boy” and “girl” – gender is a lot more complex than that and varies throughout history and from culture to culture. Nonbinary genders are genders that exist outside of the boy/girl binary. A person who identifies as nonbinary may feel that they are “between” a boy and a girl, or they may not. No person is defined by their gender and all children benefit from being able to express themselves freely.
Just as gender is a spectrum, how someone expresses their gender and relates to their body varies widely. There is no one way (and no wrong way) to be transgender.
What does it mean to transition?
Transitioning is the process of making changes to better align their internal sense of self with their external experiences. Each person’s transition is personal. It is not a linear process or a checklist! There is no “minimum” necessary or desired to “be” trans – being trans is entirely self identified. It can be easy to think of these changes as falling into three categories: Social, Medical and Legal
- A person may change their name, pronouns, mannerisms, and/or other aspects of their appearance such as clothing, accessories, and activities.
- How a person chooses to identify socially may vary by environment or context, especially depending how supported the person feels in that space. It is important to respect their stated identity and be mindful of any privileged information that you may know that may not be public.
- Might include puberty blockers, hormones or gender affirming surgery.
- No irreversible medical interventions are done on children prior to puberty.
- There are many steps that need to be taken before a medical transition can begin and is a conversation between the patient and their medical professional(s).
- Some potential legal changes are legal name on birth certificates, drivers license and/or other identity documents.
- Institutional documents such as school records are another area which can be updated.
- Not all legal changes require a court order. The availability and requirements for these changes vary from state to state.
The Facts About Sports
Trans people have played sports at all levels consistent with their gender identity for years
16 states currently have fully inclusive policies, and there are college and professional leagues with trans and nonbinary protections, some as early as 2004. Trans athletes have competed in professional women’s hockey and the Olympics. The NCAA’s trans inclusive policy has existed since 2011, with no disruption to collegiate sports.
545 student athletes feel so strongly in favor of this policy, they signed a letter demanding the NCAA pull championships from states banning trans students. Thousands of schools across the country have successfully implemented policies that treat all youth, including transgender youth, fairly.
Trans athletes do not have an unfair advantage in sports.
Transgender athletes vary in ability just like cisgender athletes. Hormones are not a magic ticket to winning – there are a lot of factors in athletic success. Athletes aren’t penalized for having a “biological advantage” from being unusually tall or flexible or having amazing eyesight! And there’s also access to training, social and familial support, and so much more.
Physical sex characteristics can vary – and people who are not trans can have hormones levels outside of the range considered typical of a cis person of their assigned sex. Monitoring or putting thresholds on things like hormones not only harms transgender and nonbinary individuals, but also impacts all individuals who may not fall within a narrow range – as seen in the case of Caster Seymena.
Current legal rulings and national law supports trans rights.
On March 8th the Biden Administration signed “Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” explicitly naming LGBTQ+ individuals rights to protection in schools, expanding on the Supreme Court decision in Bostock vs Clayton County, which ruled that gender identity is covered under Title IX protections against discrimination
A federal judge blocked a similar law in Idaho stating that it “did not provide sufficient reasons for the law to exist” and would likely be ruled unconstitutional should the ruling be challenged further. Although both national laws and judicial ruling are reassuring, the more bills that can be defeated, the better.
Trans girls are girls – and excluding them helps no one and harms many.
Testing for hormone levels and genitals in anyone, but particularly youth, is invasive, unnecessary, and potentially traumatizing. These new laws and policies invite gender policing that will subject some, and potentially all, young players to invasive tests – and encourage people making accusations that a girl is “too masculine” or “too good” at their sport to be a “real” woman. Too many times trans children have been told they are not a “real” boy or girl – and nonbinary children are told they must pick.
Arguments for these policies reinforce stereotypes that women are weak and in need of protection. No child is in need of protection from another child on the basis of their gender identity. The real motive is never about protection — it’s about excluding trans people from yet another public space.
Participation in girls sports actually goes down in states with bans – while states with inclusive policies show no drop. In fact, girl’s sports participation either kept pace or increased beyond that of boy’s sports in those states.
Trans kids belong on the same teams as other students.
Trans people have the same right to play sports as anybody else. Excluding trans people from any space or activity is harmful, particularly for trans youth. Playing on teams aligned with their sex assigned at birth forces trans boys to play on the girls’ team and trans girls to play on the boys’ team – a situation that benefits nobody and potentially puts vulnerable children in dangerous situations. The children most affected by these laws are kids who simply want to play sports with their peers and are most in need of supportive social spaces.
The Facts About Youth Healthcare
Kids aren’t too young to know
Children begin to understand gender very young and typically their gender identity is stable by four years of age
Early care improves long-term mental health
Trans and nonbinary children who have socially transitioned demonstrate comparable levels of self-worth and depression as cisgender children, and statistics have shown that puberty blockers reduces the odds of both suicide ideation and psychological distress.
Gender affirming care is medical care.
Medical care is private and is between kids, their caregiver/guardian and their medical professional. It is a process which is driven by the child, for the child and is supported and guided by the adults in their life. The best medical care practices are broadly gender-inclusive – from intake forms to supportive therapy – and banning all gender affirming care may potentially criminalize a wide spread of medical care best practices.
Puberty Blockers are established, safe and reversible
It’s easy to make something unfamiliar and medical seems scary – but puberty blockers are safe and have been used for many years. As a youth goes through puberty, their body experiences irreversible changes. Puberty blockers put a temporary hold on the physical experience of puberty – allowing kids extra time to explore their gender identity without unwanted and distressing developments.