School Board Member Accuses Cis Player of ‘Looking Trans’ in Utah

Back when I was in school, I had a friend who was a fantastic athlete – she still is. She was tall, thin, wore her hair short and excelled in gym class and in just about any sport. She didn’t wear makeup, and her wardrobe mostly consisted of gender-neutral athletic apparel. We played on a few teams together, and once the opposing team (and, unfortunately, their parents) realized how superior her athletic abilities were, the taunts would begin. It injured her morale deeply, and her teammates watched helplessly as her self-esteem suffered. I often think of her and I’m glad she played sports before the trans kid witch hunt in conservative states today.

When the Republican party, having lost the battle to demonize same-sex marriage, turned its attention to the trans community, those of us who have played organized sports knew just how this was going to go. Parents and coaches on opposing teams were going to target young women who didn’t conform to society’s idea of what a “girl” looks like. Natalie Cline, a Utah state school board member, is facing calls to resign after she falsely accused a young cisgender girl of being a trans girl on social media. The harm caused by these adults obsessed with the genitals and sexual development of children is multilayered. It created a witch hunt where any child who doesn’t fit society’s idea of what a “girl” looks like has to be constantly on guard. They are the reason states like Utah have put a target on the backs of trans kids.

The ban on trans kids in sports that Cline and her ilk have supported has established being transgender as something hidden from the status quo, something to be exposed. And all for what? Let me be clear: There is no trophy, no medal, no conference record that means more than the life of a child. Denying kids a place to find their team, their community, based on defending girls’ sports is cruel and shortsighted. We defend girls sports by getting as many girls involved as possible, and that includes trans girls. And we defend girls’ sports by giving girls a safe space to play, to be themselves, and by refusing to allow adult bullies to demonize children.