Transgender Sports Bans Are Rooted in Racism

Photo Credit: Matt Malone | CC License

With the fight over redistricting maps moving on to the courts, the Louisiana Legislature is now set for its next big fight: a ban on transgender children from participating in sports in Louisiana.

Republican Senator Beth Mizell’s Senate Bill 44 is a carbon copy of the transgender sports ban that was vetoed last year. According to Mizell, the bill is meant to protect girls and young women from transgender athletes she believes would have a biological advantage because of their birth sex.

But it may be more than that. History has shown that Black women in sports have long faced obstacles to their participation in sports. In 2021, two cis women Olympic medal contenders for Namibia were disqualified from competing in the women’s 400-meter race because their natural testosterone levels were too high. What’s more, other Black women were excluded for the same reason, notes sports commentator Idy Uyoe, owner of Idy Sports & Entertainment.

“The women’s 800-meter race was won by Caster Semenya of South Africa. The silver medalist was Francine Niyonsaba from Burundi. The bronze medalist was Margaret Wambui from Kenya. All three athletes tested for high levels of testosterone and [were] absent from the Tokyo games,” he said.

The only way for the women to compete, said World Athletics, the governing body of the Olympics, is if they took medication to lower the amount of testosterone their bodies naturally produced.

“Without conclusive evidence that transgender girls are ‘biologically male,’ this policy and legislation stands on anti-transgender accusations that have historically and contemporarily disproportionately been used to discriminate against Black women in the U.S. and abroad,” notes the American Psychological Association.

In addition to the racial history of these bills, they are also rooted in the misogynistic idea that women are inherently weak and in need of protection, notes the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Excluding women who are trans hurts all women. It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being ‘too masculine’ or ‘too good’ at their sport to be a ‘real’ woman.”

The American Psychological Association agrees and notes that all youth – regardless of gender identity should have access to the benefits provided by youth sports.

“There is ample evidence that an opportunity for adolescents to participate in sports results in positive outcomes such as better grades, greater homework completion, higher educational and occupational aspirations, and improved self-esteem. Additionally, excluding any subset of girls from sports can encourage divisiveness and compromise group cohesion, undermining the benefits all youth deserve from team sports.”

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