Transgender student-athletes could face criminal penalties in new proposed bill

Jessica Miles
Updated: March 02, 2021 07:10 PM
Created: March 02, 2021 06:47 PM

As captain of her cheer and tennis teams at her Minneapolis high school, N.G. has always felt supported by her teammates.

"Something that always gave me comfort and hope was the safe space of tennis and cheer," she said. "To be able to walk into my high school proudly wearing my uniform, that made me feel safe that really made me feel like I belong."

But as a transgender female high school athlete, she's also had to do things most others have not, like defend her identity.

"For us to sit here and criminalize those who are trying to figure out who they are, it's ridiculous," she added.

A new bill introduced at the State Capitol has advocates questioning what comes next for transgender athletes.

"It’s just really despicable that politicians would play games with children’s lives like this," said Jess Braverman, with Gender Justice.

The bill would restrict male student participation in female athletics, and restrict male access to female changing facilities.

"We don’t even call them problems in search of solutions, we just call them bigger problems," Braverman said. " It’s like they found the problems in girls sports and thought, how can we exacerbate these problems."

The bill would also impose criminal penalties against students who don't abide by them.

"If a child plays sports on a girls sports team and they are a transgender girl or cisgender boy, meaning a boy who’s not transgender, they would be subject to a petty misdemeanor," Braverman stated.

The use of the wrong bathroom or locker room by a transgender athlete could also come with a misdemeanor penalty.

"(If this passes) this would be the first bill that criminalizes children for playing sports, Braverman said.

The Minnesota State High School League already allows students to play sports based on their gender identity.

Braverman says so does the NCAA, and the Olympics.

"There is no reason why it should be harder to play girls kickball in Minnesota than it is to play an Olympic elite sport," Braverman said. "It is lunacy."

N.G.'s father calls it heartbreaking.

"It's hurtful for one thing, but it's genuinely dangerous," he said. "When we get increasingly comfortable with pointing people out as other it gives us permission to treat them as less than a person, and that's genuinely dangerous. And Rep. Lucero knows that and that's deeply disappointing."
Rep. Eric Lucero, (R)-Dayton, said his schedule was too full to accommodate an interview but sent a statement that reads:

"The last several years have been witness to a rise in the number of confused boys and men mistakenly believing themselves to be girls and women when the science says otherwise, yet demanding to play on female sport teams, use female bathrooms, and even shower with females, causing outrage and concern among parents by the threat to their daughters' safety. I'm a strong believer in science and, because I share the concerns of parents for their daughters' safety, I introduced HF 1657 seeking to prohibit those with an XY chromosome-pair from participating on a female-only sports team and also prohibit those with an XY chromosome-pair from using female restrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing rooms, etc."

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