This morning, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle published this column of Jen's highlighting some of the unintended, overlooked, and misogynistic consequences of efforts to ban trans girls from youth sports: SF133 threatens the well-being of all girls in Wyoming.
[NOTE: Because it isn't paywalled, we've republished it in its entirety below. As always, we encourage you to subscribe to your local newspaper! Here's the subscription info for the WTE.]
SF133 Student eligibility in interscholastic sports alleges to protect the Wyoming girls the bill’s sponsor refers to as “biologically female” from trans girls. Throughout two years of committee hearings and floor debate, two recurring defenses of the bill arise:
It is about “fairness.” The fairness argument says that trans girls are biologically superior and will beat biologically female girls at every turn if not kept out of youth sports.
It is about “safety.” Allegedly, biologically female girls are physically weaker and will be injured if not protected from trans girls.
Yet the premise of these two arguments is false.
There are very few trans girls in Wyoming. They amount to approximately 0.56% of the population according to 2022 data.
There are nearly 66,000 Wyoming girls the sponsor of SF133 refers to as "biologically female." These 66,000 girls are also at risk because of this legislation.
What are “biologically female” girls at risk of? It’s not what the sponsor asserts. Rather, if this bill passes, these 66,000 Wyoming girls are at risk of having the new law weaponized against them. They are at risk of being legally required to prove their sex–in Ohio, the investigative process first described in statutory language included "internal and external exams of girls' reproductive anatomy"–if someone thinks they are too “masculine,” too “boyish,” or simply “too good to be a ‘real’ girl.”
When I was in 7th grade, I was a superior athlete. Even before the current “professionalization” of youth sports, sports were a clear path for me to pay for college.
When I was in 7th grade, I had the same haircut as my brother. Sometimes, people thought we were twins. In 7th grade–and again in high school when I had very short hair–I heard a lot of “I thought you were a boy” jokes. No question, I looked like my brother. I looked, to some people, like a boy.
So I looked like a boy at the same time that I was a superior athlete, outcompeting girls who were older than I was. Had a law like this been on the books, what would have prevented those girls or their coaches or parents from accusing me of cheating, assuming I must be that good because I was a trans girl? What would have kept them from investigating me? And what would have happened to me then?
I was shy. I was not trying to attract attention. I was just trying to be the best student athlete I could be. I was trying to figure out how to do well enough that I could pay for college with academic or athletic scholarships—or both.
If anyone—a teammate, a competitor, their coaches, or parents—had accused me of cheating, had questioned my identity, had forced me to prove I was a "biological female," I have no doubt that would have been the end of my athletic career. It would have been more than enough to deter a shy kid. It is more than any student athlete should ever be subjected to. It is also entirely irrelevant to the entire premise of youth sports.
Let me say it clearly: no Wyoming girls should be subjected to this kind of questioning or examination.
The sponsor has also said that the bill is about "safety."
Flash forward to college. Thanks in large part to the fact that I was able to compete and grow as an athlete in high school, I was three-time captain of my college team and worked with the Athletic Director to ensure the school’s compliance with Title IX.
I tried out for, was selected to, and played on a state all-star team. My teammate–also my roommate when we traveled to national tournaments–was 6'2" to my 5'6", 180 to my 120. She was bigger and stronger than a lot of the male athletes we worked out with. Yet, no one was concerned for my "safety," no one proposed that she might injure me during scrimmages, she was not benched during games to keep other players “safe.” No one posited that we should shift to height and weight classes to ensure we were all evenly matched for size.
What we are doing with this legislation—legislation that very specifically targets a tiny number of already vulnerable young people in Wyoming—also sends messages to tens of thousands of girls in Wyoming. We are telling them they are fragile. We are telling them their trans peers are threatening. We are showing them that adults will use statute to bully people they fear or don’t understand. And as egregious as all those things are, we are also risking the opportunity for all girls to participate in sports.
We are creating opportunities to weaponize this new law and threaten the future and well-being of every girl in Wyoming.
Which is why I am saying to you today: We should not pass SF133 into law.