Fischer Wells just wants to play field hockey. The State of Kentucky says she can’t. I’m not making this up. Kentucky passed a law to make sure this twelve-year-old girl won’t be able to play field hockey at her middle school. Think about how fucked up that is.
You know what? It’s more fucked up that you think. Consider the process of passing a law in Kentucky (or any other state, for that matter). It’s a time-intensive process. You have to cobble together the language of the bill you want to become law, including defining all the elements. Then you have to present the bill to…wait. Here, look at this:
This is the amount of effort the State of Kentucky went to in order to keep 12-year-old Fischer Wells from playing field hockey at school. Note Step 11: “If bill is vetoed, it goes back to each chamber. If approved by a constitutional majority in each chamber, the veto is overridden and the bill becomes law.” That actually happened with this particular bill.
Andy Beshear, a Democrat and the Governor of Kentucky, vetoed the bill because it “most likely violates the equal protection rights afforded by the United States Constitution.” The Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, voted to override the veto.
Why would Republicans go to so much fuss and bother to pass this law? Because Fischer Wells is a trans girl. She’s the ONLY known trans girl playing in middle or high school sports in Kentucky. She’s in the 8th grade. She’s not much of a threat.
A number of states have passed similar laws designed to prevent trans students from participating in middle school, high school, or college sports. They claim they’re doing it in the interest of ‘fairness’. Their reason can be summed up in this comment by Robby Mills, the Kentucky law’s GOP sponsor:
“Boys have athletic advantages even before puberty in cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, agility and power tests. A lot of time and effort is put into achieving a certain level of mastery in a sport and it would be crushing for a lady to train her whole career to have it end up competing against a biological male in the state tournament or state finals.”
Sure, that would be tough on a ‘lady’. But Mills and his fellow (should I call them bigots? I mean, the law is bigoted, to be sure. And it’s supported by anti-trans bigots. But it’s possible, I suppose, for a legislator to support the bill NOT because they’re a bigot, but because they want the votes cast by a bigoted public. But fuck that, if you vote for a bigoted law, you’re a bigot) bigots seem to be under the insane impression that there are guys out there in the sports world who consider themselves male BUT are so insecure in their ‘mastery in a sport’ that they’re willing to temporarily identify as female simply in order to win a high school sports championship.
And that’s fucking ridiculous. You have to be astonishingly stupid to believe that.
At the college level, where sports participation starts to really pay off, they’ve already taken steps to insure fairness. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a complete policy outlining transgender student-athlete participation. In theory, it applies to both trans men and trans women; in practice it’s directed primarily at trans women. It says trans women have to be taking hormonal treatment for gender transition for a certain period of time in order to participate in women’s sports. Trans men, on the other hand, don’t have to be taking testosterone in order to participate in men’s sports.
I’m not entirely convinced the NCAA actually needs to do this, but at least it’s an honest and sensible approach to ‘fairness’ regarding trans folks in college sports.
But the ‘fairness’ issue is really just a mask for all trans-related fear and hatred. Banning trans athletes isn’t just unfair to openly trans athletes, it actively discourages trans kids from even considering participating in sports. It actively discourages trans kids from letting their family and friends know they’re trans. It actively encourages trans kids to hate themselves. It actively increases the likelihood of trans kids self-harming or killing themselves. It actively encourages transphobic people to bully trans kids or find other ways to harass trans people. It normalizes trans fear and hatred.
On the surface, this seems to be a partisan political issue. Republicans pass anti-trans laws, Democrats try to protect trans rights. But some (how much, I don’t know–maybe a lot, maybe a little) of GOP anti-trans legislation is an aspect of their performative politics. It gets their base motivated, so they don’t give any thought to the repercussions. And yet at least one GOP governor demonstrated some basic human decency.
Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah vetoed an anti-trans sports bill passed by his own party–a bill that, like the Kentucky bill, only affected a few kids. Cox wrote this in his response:
“Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”
I want them to live. There it is. I don’t understand what they’re going through or why they feel the way they do. BUT I WANT THEM TO LIVE. You don’t have to understand (though it would be nice if you tried). You don’t have to agree with their choices. Just refrain from cruelty. Just let other folks live and be comfortable in their bodies.
There have been thousands–tens of thousands–of Fischer Wells, who’ve grown up afraid. There are lots of adult Fischer Wells out there, trans women who worry about going out in public, who wonder if they look fem enough to avoid harassment, to avoid assault, to avoid being targeted and killed.
If you vilify a 12-year-old trans girl who only wants to play field hockey, you create the social conditions that can keep her scared and uncertain and anxiety-ridden and alienated her entire life.
Just let Fischer Wells play. Let every Fischer Wells play. Just stop being assholes. Just make some attempt at some basic human decency. That’s really what this is about. Letting other people get on with their own lives. Letting people be themselves. It’s really not that hard.