Republicans give priority to anti-trans athlete bill

The Senate E-12 Education Committee heard a bill this week that would prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams at high school and youth levels.

The bill received a hearing despite already being deemed unconstitutional, based on a 2019 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. In the original case, two Minnesota high school cisgender boys weren’t allowed to join the girls’ competitive dance team based on the Minnesota State High School League rules. A federal court judge ruled in favor of the High School League; however, an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned that ruling due to the protection provided by Title IX and the 14th Amendment.

DFL committee members pointed out that the bill is clearly discriminatory and will harm trans athletes and students as it gives others the authority to invalidate and question their gender. It aims to keep trans students from experiencing the beneficial aspects of playing sports such as team comradery, the building of teamwork skills, and the other positives that come with participating in athletics and team sports.

Opponents of the bill were right to point out how offensive it was, as it continuously misgendered trans girls and attempted to use “women’s rights” as means to justify the exclusion of trans students from sports. The failure to recognize that trans girls’ rights are women’s rights contributes to the further ostracization of the trans community and is very harmful.

DFL committee members opposed the bill on discriminatory and unconstitutional grounds and questioned the enforcement policy and the merits of even hearing the bill when other more important issues face the Legislature and Minnesota schools as a whole during the pandemic. The Senate Republican chair ended some of the discussion from the opposition and said he intended for bill discussion to be “civil,” and the bill’s author insisted the bill was not discriminatory to any groups despite testimony given to the contrary.

The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate Republicans’ education omnibus bill, so no vote was taken. The Senate DFL will oppose any and all efforts for this or other types of transphobic legislation to become law. (SF 96)