Letter: Transphobic measures, including about who gets to play sports, would harm children

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Flags standing at City Hall in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. to mark Transgender Awareness Week. Each of the more than 300 Trans Pride flags stands in remembrance and is marked with the name and story of a transgender person murdered in the last year.

Do you remember the discussion about the importance of school sports for students?

Playing sports is so essential for mental health that it has to go on even during a pandemic. The current debate about excluding transgender students from playing  sports in the teams that align with their gender is shameful. Transgender students are among the most vulnerable youth in our state. This policy would affect children who are at high risk for bullying, self-harm, or being shunned by their families simply for being who they are.

The purpose of schools is a space for learning and development for all. If we are lucky, they level the playing field in life. We should not kick children off teams because some harbor irrational fears about transgender teammates. This debate is not about fairness; it stems from transphobia.

What’s more, the discussion about making participation in sports more difficult for transgender youth happens at the same time that  another bill seeks to prevent minors from accessing gender-affirming treatment. Lawmakers seek to exclude children from sports and seek to deny them affirming, and potentially life-saving medical treatment. These measures are not centering child well-being. They are deeply rooted in transphobia and will harm Utah children.

Claudia Geist, Millcreek

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