On Tuesday March 3rd, 2020, the Arizona House of Representatives passed the “Save Women’s Sports Act” after six hours of debate. The bill, which if passed into law by Senate, could ban transgender girls from participating in women’s sports at different levels of schooling, ranging from K through 12 schools to even colleges and universities. So, in a time when we think we are progressing as a collective society and becoming more accepting of someone’s life, is this bill the ugly reality of our society?
In the United States, we celebrate Women’s History Month in March. For thirty-one days, we celebrate the accomplishments and the achievements of all the women that have paved the way before us. Some outstanding women to celebrate would be Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, and so many more. But what of our transgender counterparts? Women like Marsha P. Johnson, Laverne Cox, Angelica Ross, and Renee Richards are some prolific trans women to discuss. Each of these women contribute to the history of women and the constant growth and equality women strive for every day. But, are they still so different from natural born women?
The bill, backed by Republican Representative, Nancy Barto, aims to ban transgender female athletes from participating and competing in girl’s school sports. Barto is quoted saying, “Women are being displaced in their own sport. The playing field is no longer level. All that needs to be determined is what sex a person is and that determines which team they can play on.” This bill allows an athlete to dispute the gender of another athlete if they feel they have been negatively impacted by it. The dispute would then require any female athlete accused to provide proof of their biological sex with a signed doctor’s note after undergoing genetic testing. This is the amendment to the bill by Barto, as the original follow-up to a dispute required a sworn doctor’s statement that detailed their genetic makeup, “internal and external reproductive anatomy” and “normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone.” Barto stated that research shows biological males, even with cross-sex hormones, have an “unequivocal advantage” to women because of their genetics and that the bill ultimately aims to preserve women’s sports.
Arizona is not the only state to bring about a bill banning transgender athletes from playing on teams that align with their gender identity. Other states to consider such a bill are Idaho, New Hampshire, Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri. A major factor for the Arizona bill cited a sex discrimination lawsuit in Connecticut wherein high school female track athletes argued an unfair loss to transgender athletes they had competed against. The bill also throws out organizations such as the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), the state’s governing body over school sports that already has policies in place that allows athletes to compete in alignment with their gender identity, regardless of sex assigned at birth. This already existing rule would be squashed under Barto’s bill and continue acts of discrimination against transgender athletes.
Why does this matter and what does it have to do with Women’s History Month? Women, both cis and transgender, have fought throughout the decades to be heard and understood. To this day, women are still overlooked in order to accommodate others. Though the intention is to preserve women’s sports, this bill would be mass scrutiny to and within the female sports world. There is no way to progress forward as a collective when we are still willing to step on others to reach our goals. Transgender women are making their history as well and they will be remembered for what they did for the LGBTQ+ and women communities. Young transgender girls are not hoping to get ahead of natural born women, they just want to be our equals.
During Women’s History Month, we remember and commemorate the courage and perseverance of women before us. All women. It is not a give and take what we remember. It is all important. We cannot be willing to celebrate trans people when it is convenient, but then turn our backs on them when we want our own spotlight. In order to grow and move forward to a more promising future, we must do it together. Women are women through and through. All radiant, beautiful, fierce, passionate, brilliant, trailblazing women.