Trans rights are human rights

Elena Roe, Staff Writer

The Sunshine State has become a very dark place for trans rights. On April 14, the Florida state House of Representatives added its contribution to a wave of discriminatory legislation that has swept the nation as of late, passing a bill banning transgender athletes from women’s sports. The bill is one of 30 others floating in state legislatures across the country, and one of the most controversial to ever appear in Florida’s legislative body. If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, HB 1475 would allow schools or fellow competitors to file complaints against those they suspect may not have been assigned the female sex at birth; such a complaint must be resolved via a genetic test/analysis of testosterone levels, or a physical examination of the child’s reproductive anatomy. To emphasize: the Florida legislature has attempted to legalize invasive examination of a child’s genital organs in schools to further their own transphobic agenda.

While there is much to be unpacked about the unprecedented damage dealt by this legislation, it seems pertinent to begin with the fact that this legislation is comparable to legalized sexual abuse of minors.  The physical examination of transgender children is incredibly damaging and invalidating, opening the door for the sexual exploitation of trans children by adults. This is especially chilling considering not only that one of two transgender individuals will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime (some reports put this statistic even higher at 66 percent), but that these examinations are done in the name of transphobia disguised as, remarkably, feminism. Republicans, with an abhorrent track record regarding their consistent opposition of policies benefiting women, have made the concept of trans women competing in sports a painfully misguided crusade to “save Title IX” — in the process spewing hateful rhetoric towards an entire group of women, as well as legislation regarding a baseless talking point that is simply not an issue.

The reality of the debate over whether trans women should compete in women’s sports is that it is incredibly lopsided in its impact. After the passage of the Florida legislation, reports circulated indicating that only 11 children have applied to compete under the current regulations of the Florida High School Athletics Association.  To interpret this statistic, the prophesied “takeover” of women’s sports by… well, women — though conservatives would invalidate this reality — isn’t happening, and never has been. The legislation is useless in its advertised intent because the true intent is to further isolate and harm a community that is already incredibly vulnerable and marginalized. Transgender and non-binary individuals are disproportionately affected as victims of homicide — especially those who are people of color.  Among children specifically: the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than half of trans male teens, 30 percent of transgender female teens, and 42 percent of non-binary teens have attempted suicide in their lifetime. These children already struggle in abusive, unaccepting homes and face bullying from their peers at school. This kind of legislation is absolutely abhorrent in its ability to tear down the privacy, legal protection and basic human rights of trans women, as well as its promotion of further violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

Alongside the recent Arkansas legislation banning gender-affirmation care for trans children, this Florida bill makes it clear that the era of Trump-fueled bigotry among conservatives is nowhere close to dying out. Hypocrisy runs rampant, and transgender women are under attack in the name of “saving women’s sports.” Let’s be perfectly clear: feminism must include all women, and transgender women are women. That is an absolute objective fact, backed by the biology transphobic figureheads claim to hold so dear. Forcing transgender girls to compete with boys in athletics is not just incredibly damaging to the mental health and gender affirmation of trans youth; it’s an unscientific grab for control. It’s an attack on individualism, bodily autonomy and identity, and yet another example where Republicans have proved that they aren’t against big government — they are enthusiastic contributors for the sake of their own agenda, and will take every chance they can to enforce their own hateful, power-driven beliefs of the gender-binary. Denying not only participation in sports, but healthcare and basic human rights to an entire group of people simply because they are not cisgender is the gateway to democratic dissolution. Abuse and bigotry cannot be disguised as heroism to fan the egos of those who have only ever dealt oppression, yet never faced it. Intolerance and suppression cannot stand, and it should take much less than threats from the NAACP to cause Florida to think twice — it’s a matter of basic humanity.

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