OPINION

Senate bill banning transgender youths from Kansas sports is a bad solution looking for a problem

By The Editorial Advisory Board

The 24 Kansas senators who voted Wednesday for a bill banning transgender youths from girls and women’s school sports evening voted for small-minded bigotry.

They voted for harassment, for name-calling, for bullies. The House of Representatives should refuse to hear the bill. If it passes there, Gov. Laura Kelly should veto it.

Right now, it’s reported that a total of five transgender athletes are competing in the whole of the state of Kansas. And Republicans in the Senate would have us believe that somehow these athletes’ involvement in youth sports is a pressing problem demanding a legislative solution.

You don’t have to understand why someone might come out as transgender. It’s really none of your business. But you do owe anyone in such circumstances a bit of empathy. Can you imagine how difficult it is to tell everyone that your gender is different than that assigned to you at birth? Can you imagine the bravery it takes to change how you present yourself to the world, living your truth openly?

Rep. Stephanie Byers, D-Wichita, testifies against legislation restricting how transgender individuals participate in sports.

Again, you don’t have to understand why. But you should understand the challenges. And then realize that legislators in the state capitol have decided that your very being is worth passing a law against. And not a law that would bar bullying or abuse against you — but a law that is itself bullying and abuse.

Bill is incoherent

The bill isn’t even coherent on its own terms. Why does it only address girls' and women’s sports? Why not boys' and men’s sports? Could it be that stereotypes of predatory transgender women motivate hateful activists more than transgender men?

For that matter, what about students who may identify as nonbinary? More and more young people are identifying themselves as occupying a space between genders. How might we define them?

Gov. Kelly is right to call the bill regressive. Student athletes are right to call on national sports tournaments to boycott Kansas if the law passes. We are better than this piece of nonsensical garbage masquerading as legislation.

Change isn't the end of the world

We understand: Transgender men and women can be difficult to understand for those of us who grew up with a certain view of the world. But some 20 years ago, it was unimaginable that gay men and lesbian women would get married and raise families across the United States. That has happened, and far from damaging anyone’s moral code, the change has been wholly positive for families and communities.

Change came, and it ended up being no big deal.

The inclusion of trans athletes is precisely the same situation. It may seem strange or uncomfortable. But there’s no indication the sky is falling, or that school sports or women’s sports will somehow fundamentally change if trans girls and women compete.

Let them play.