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Arizona to get its first out trans high school athlete

The Arizona Interscholastic Association has barred far more trans high school athletes from empowering participation than it has allowed.

USA TODAY Sports

Arizona will have its first out transgender high school athlete to compete as their self-identified gender. The Arizona Interscholastic Association last week approved the first such athlete to move forward with participation in one of their school's winter sports.

While it's wonderful to see this athlete - whose name the AIA is not releasing - able to participate, it's equally disturbing that the AIA has blocked other trans high school athletes from doing the same. The AIA has reportedly denied as many as 10 athletes' requests previously.

One of the problems is that the AIA policy is a "case-by-case" basis. That means a panel of "judges" reviews cases and decides if a trans athlete is "worthy" of participation.

There is absolutely no reason to keep any trans athlete from participating as their self-identified gender in high school.

"But what about the 6-foot-8 trans-female who wants to play basketball against the girls?"

My guess is she'll have the same advantage Brittney Griner had in high school.

"But what about the 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman who transitions and wants to compete in the shot put against girls?"

Really? Have you ever heard of a football lineman transitioning in high school? Sure, it will happen at some point. But should nine out of 10 athletes be denied the ability to express themselves fully through sport for fear of this one athlete transitioning somewhere? No.

"The case by case basis offers the opportunity to zero in on an individual and the impact it may have," Chuck Schmidt, AIA associate executive director, told KSAZ.

The fact that they've prevented far more participation than they've allowed tells you the high standard they are holding trans athletes to.

If they're so worried about advantages, then they should review every single high school athlete in Arizona and decide if their height, weight or strength gives them an advantage over other athletes. If it does, they should be barred from participation as well. If this is all about limiting advantages, then the AIA should limit every advantage of everyone so only bad or mediocre athletes can participate.

Of course they won't do that because the policy isn't really about "fairness" or "advantages," it's about transphobia. It's about limiting opportunities for trans athletes. It's like some efforts behind some voter ID laws: If you make it hard enough to participate, some people in a targeted demographic will simply drop out.

It saddens me to hear from trans high school athletes like Nic Scanlon (video below), who choose to opt out of sports instead of going through the bullshit.

High school athletic associations should open the door wide for all trans athletes. Any "advantage" one trans athlete may have over another is no different from the advantage any cisgender athlete may have. And if the 300-pound lineman transitions in a high school somewhere, more power to her.