Opponents of Michigan's proposed trans sports ban are working to educate people about its dangers

click to enlarge Opponents of Michigan's proposed trans sports ban are working to educate people about its dangers
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Opponents of Michigan's proposed trans sports ban are working to educate people about what they see as its dangers.

Senate Bill 218 would prohibit trans high school students from playing on teams associated with their gender identity, verses their sex assigned at birth.

A key concern among the bill's supporters is that trans athletes — particularly those born male who identify as female — would have a competitive advantage. As a transgender youth in Ann Arbor, Eli Herrman contended there's no scientific evidence to back up that claim.

Herrman, who is co-facilitator of the Michigan Organization on Adolescent and Sexual Health Youth Advisory Council on Transgender Youth, noted that trans youth already feel shunned by the homophobic culture of sports.

"Many trans people just don't want to be a part of that," said Herrman. "I don't know any trans people in my school that partake in sports; I'm the only person. So, it is not as if, very suddenly, we're going to see hundreds of trans people."

Some argue measures like SB 218 promote women's rights. However, more than two dozen national women's rights and gender-justice organizations publicly support full and equal access in athletics for transgender people.

SB 218 has not yet had a committee hearing.

Herrman plays on the boys soccer team, and said he thinks sports help validate a young person's identity and skills. He added trans people can't control how they were born, and just want to live their lives, like everyone else.

"There is a lot of hate, and sports can be a place for kids to escape," said Herrman. "Taking that away from someone who is young, who might not have a supportive family, might not have a supportive school — that can leave a person in an extremely dark place, and I've seen it before."

Advocacy Director at MOASH, Shakti Rambarran, noted the Michigan High School Athletic Association has called the bill "unnecessary." She said she thinks it would create more problems than it would solve.

"Realistically, what this bill is trying to do is invalidate trans youth and their experiences, and perpetuate transphobic stereotypes," said Rambarran. "It is unacceptable and unnecessary."

More than four dozen groups signed an opposition letter sent to Sen. Lana Theis — R-Brighton — who introduced the bill. It is co-sponsored by a dozen other GOP senators.

Moash is also hosting a town hall with legislators and youth to discuss the measure later this month.

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