Being a transgender person often means being a human version of Snopes.com when it comes to what is said and reported about the experiences you live every day. The mounting lies and ignorance from those seeking to make discrimination legal is endless.
I heard one of the most egregious examples earlier this week while covering the hearings on Texas’ third try at locking out transgender students from something that is quintessentially American — Representing one’s school in sports.
Enter Republican State Senator Charles Perry. He’s been a cheer captain and legislative quarterback for a good number of the dozens of anti-transgender bills proposed in the Lone Star State in the last year.
Once again, he sat at a microphone to sell something now-called Senate Bill 3, and he told it like it isn’t. Some of the lowlights were a part of this week’s edition of the Trans Sporter Room podcast.
In proposing the measure, which would tie participation to what is on a student’s original birth certificate, he painted a tale of deception rivaling the Southern Methodist University college football scandal of the 1980s.
“What do you do with a 14 or 15 year old biological male who has not had any conversation regarding trans and they have a doctor and they said “I feel like I need to be a woman”, and that process is engaged and we all realize that jurisdictions can be shopped and that process is put in place....and shows up in the female sports activity and runs the gamut be it whatever sport.” - State Senator Charles Perry
Never mind that the law itself opens the door to another Mack Beggs situation, this tale of dystopian subterfuge used to sell this law is laughable, insulting, and dangerous because many buy into it.
Despite Senator Perry’s assertions, this isn’t how it works. This isn’t how any of this works. The fears of him and others show a total ignorance of high school kids, high school sports, and the lives of transgender people.
Beggs’ ordeal has been documented in print and film extensively. At the hearing, there was another young man who testified to his experience as a transgender boy forced to play on a girl’s team because of the same rule.
“I’ve had to submit my medical records to to UIL to wrestle,” he recalled. “Imagine the harassment I’ve had to have walking into the girl’s locker room. I have permanent injuries because I am trans and I was on the girl’s team. I’ve almost committed suicide because of the bullying.”
Who really thinks someone goes through what that young man described just to win a match, a race, or a game?
But, but, but — They’ll take away a scholarship!
I’ve seen affirming, loving parents being slurred as “child abusers” for standing with their transgender child.
I saw one parent having to maintain their dignity, with transphobia spewing inches away from them, and then refocus to explain what impact this legislative assault was having on their child.
What kind of person thinks any family goes through this vitriol for a scholarship that has yet to be offered?
I heard policymakers, and the groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom who finance them, shriek “domination” in regards to the recent Olympics in Tokyo when the facts show there have been over 60,000 qualifying, competing Olympic athletes since the rules for transgender participation were put in place by the IOC in 2003.
But, but, but even if it hasn’t happened yet, it will! Just give it (insert number greater than zero) years!
Such groundless fiction is thrown in the face of a community under siege in areas far beyond a ball field. These attacks affect the most vulnerable the hardest.
Still, transgender tykes, tweens, and teens are standing tall in their state’s legislature, looking transphobes like Senator Perry in the eye, and telling their truth. A supportive community in the fighting spirit of the late, great Texas trans advocate Monica Roberts stands in solidarity with them.
Even with such support, for a large number of transgender people of all ages, transition means loss. It can mean losing family, losing friends, and in much of this country one can still lose their job, or an opportunity to be employed, for being trans even with a Supreme Court decision last year that ruled that such is unconstitutional.
I’ve experienced some of this first hand. No medal or trophy is a tradeoff for the fear and tears I’ve felt and shed.
There was a post on Twitter I ran across this week that sums this up perfectly.
I gave up everything to be who I am. I lost everything. I will miss dozens of funerals. I will never be invited to weddings. The things I have had to shed. Afterwards, I set my compass to one thing: I would never lie. I would never be inauthentic. That’s why I’m still here.
I would encourage these legislators to sit down and really listen. Listen to transgender people. Listen to these kids who are speaking to you in these sessions and take it in instead of holding fast to fiction to sell discrimination.
No one transitions to break records. No one.
We transition to stop being broken. It would help greatly if many would stop trying to use the law to break us.
This week’s edition of The Trans Sporter Room had a complete look inside this week’s hearings on SB3 in Texas through the prism of myth as public policy. Check it out on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts, and many other platforms for Outsports podcasts as well.