It really grinds my gears when people say “why is everything made so political” or “I don’t care about politics” when it comes to laws being passed that affect groups of marginalized people. Maybe people will “be less political” once there aren’t laws that affect others based on their bodies and identities.
Back in 2019, Republicans in South Dakota tried to pass a bill that would ban transgender girls from school sports, in order to “protect cis girls and keep male anatomy out of the girls locker room”. This bill would restrict transgender female students from participating in women’s sports. Thankfully this bill died before making it out of the committee. However in January of 2021, Republicans pushed for this bill again but this time with a strategy that was meant to deceive others. This time they decided to use women as their sponsors instead of men naming the bill the “act to promote continued fairness in women’s sports”. By shifting the focus on fighting for women’s equality in sports and the fairness in competition based on anatomy they were able to pass the bill in South Dakota. It seems that policies discriminating against trans people have moved from bathroom issues to women’s sports. After this Mississippi and Arkansas followed and passed similar bills that will be in place by this summer.
This is extremely problematic for many reasons. For one it compares the fight for equality in women’s sports to the fight for equal opportunities in life for transgender people, and in South Dakota it sends the message that women’s sports as more valuable than human rights of transgender people. It also gives off an idea that there is a victim of “transness”. When in reality studies have shown that most transgender students are the victims at school to bullying, harassment, and feeling unsafe.
Time and time again through history we have seen laws that discriminate against marginalized groups of people passed on the basis of a scapegoat. For example, in March 2017 more than 200 municipalities had anti-discrimination laws allowing transgender people to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The main argument against allowing this to happen is the safety of women and children. However, in an article by Psychologist Dwan Johnson he notes that “law enforcement agencies, state human rights commissions, and prosecutors have steadfastly denied there is any equivalence between such policies and an increase in assaults. Most notably, civil rights activists argue there are more reports of transgender people being assaulted in bathrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity.”
However, in an article by Psychologist Dwan Johnson, he notes that “law enforcement agencies, state human rights commissions, and prosecutors have steadfastly denied there is any equivalence between such policies and an increase in assaults. Most notably, civil rights activists argue there are more reports of transgender people being assaulted in bathrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity.”
This reveals that the problem is not about fairness or safety but lies in the transphobic ideologies behind the people pushing for these policies to be passed. I also want to highlight that in general men have used politics to control women’s bodies whether it be abortion laws, or the recent ban in France of Hijab’s for children. There is always a scapegoat, and there is always oppression hidden behind the fallacy of equality or safety. It seems as though the current battle that has risen is focusing on women’s sports and before then it was bathrooms, so I ask again when will republicans stop using politics to target women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community ?! Because if it is not one issue it is another and enough is enough. The common factor in these bills reject any type of scientifically backed research. In order to fight against laws that discriminate and oppress people there needs to be a change within the system that grants more accountability for passing bills and takes into account what studies and people’s lived experiences have shown. Especially bills that can infringe upon the freedom and safety of marginalized groups. Peer-reviewed research should be the backbone of bills and policies of the future, contact your local representatives to see how you can make an impact on the bills and policies being passed. It all starts with small change so be an ally!