Minnesota Opinions: There’s no need for transgender sports ban laws. Period
There's a rash of bills to ban transgender sports participation. These meddlesome bills aren't needed because athletic associations and sports federations have policies that work well.
FARGO — Legislative busybodies have been hard at work trying to create a problem that doesn’t exist involving transgender athletes in high school and college.
Bills are being considered in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota that would require high school and college athletes to compete under the gender listed on their birth certificates.
- Minnesota panel weighs blocking transgender athletes from girls' sports
- South Dakota House passes ban on transgender athletes in girls sports
- Bill to restrict transgender athletes passes North Dakota House
- High school transgender athletes rarely seen in Dakotas, Minnesota
The sponsors of the bill in North Dakota claim the bill isn’t an attack on transgender students — although it’s clearly exactly that — and argue that the legislation is a matter of fairness to prevent males from competing against females.
But that argument utterly ignores the fact that, since 2015, the North Dakota High School Activities Association has followed a rule, closely patterned after a regulation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Under that policy, a student who has transitioned from male to female can still compete in male sports and is eligible to compete in female sports after completing a year of testosterone suppression.
The director of the North Dakota High School Activities Association calls it a “non-issue.”
In fact, officials of the association have never had a transgender case come to their attention, apparently because no student-athlete has gone through hormone treatment to switch genders.
North Dakota’s experience is convincing proof that athletic bodies at both the high school and college level are quite capable of addressing this matter in the rare instances when cases arise.
There’s no need whatsoever for the heavy hand of the state to meddle. There’s no problem to solve. It’s ironic that these transgender sports ban bills come from the very social and religious conservatives who ordinarily are so vocal to denounce state interference.
Although there’s no problem to solve, passing these bills could create very real problems. At the college level, if the bill becomes law, state universities could have to forfeit competition or stop hosting events.
Similar concerns have been raised among swimmers. USA Swimming, which allows athletes to compete according to their gender identity, could drop North Dakota from its membership, a move that could harm the careers of many swimmers and hurt revenues for water sports venues, including Hulbert Aquatic Center in West Fargo, N.D. — in the district of Republican Rep. Ben Koppelman, prime sponsor of the North Dakota bill.
Let’s not forget that young people who have made the dramatic decision to transition to another gender are going through an extraordinarily difficult time. They too often are victims of ridicule and discrimination, and are at higher risk of depression, anxiety and suicide.
These busybody bills should be thrown in the trash. Our states have much more important issues to tackle. This legislation would do more harm than good.
This Minnesota Opinion is the opinion of the editorial board of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.