EDITORIAL: Talk around Trans Bills

State legislation puts adolescents at risk by introducing anti-transgender bills


Student poses with a transgender flag during a student-organized walkout. Students from across the district walked out from class on March 28 to voice their opinions on the introduction of anti-trans bills in Kansas. ““[Trans] rights should be like anybody else’s rights: being protected, and being valued, because they are human rights, obviously,” event organizer junior Adriana Cazares said.

Lilly Wall

For many students, school sports are a central source of stability and a safe space to feel valued among peers. On April 5, Kansas legislature voted to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of House Bill 2238, which requires that female athletic teams only include members who are biologically female. This decision will directly harm students’ mental health, causing terminal drawbacks to self-esteem and emotional security in daily life.

State legislature has failed to consider how this bill will permanently tarnish transgender lives physically, mentally and socially with no public policy benefits. 

As a female student-athlete who has played numerous sports at a competitive level my whole life, I have not seen anyone concerned with the teammates that stand beside each other — aside from elected officials themselves.

According to the National Athletic Trainer’s Association, youth who involve themselves in school sports are less stressed, maintain lower depression symptoms and have higher self-esteem and confidence.

Bill Faflick, executive director of the Kansas State High Schools Activities Association, said these legislative decisions will largely impact student mental health as some students may feel isolated or abandoned for simply desiring to participate in an activity they enjoy.

“Denying a group of students eligibility deprives them of the opportunity to learn and grow through participation,” Faflick said. 

To make it clear: the enactment of this bill will not improve test scores or enhance education. All it will do is fabricate harmful rhetoric toward transgender students who will experience further social isolation because of these damaging legislative decisions.

Although Kelly vetoed the bill on March 17 for a third year in a row, taking a needed stand against anti-trans legislation, the Kansas Legislature voted to override Kelly’s veto on April 5. 

When considering this decision, Republican house leaders claimed the Fairness in Women’s Sports act will protect the rights of female athletes and their opportunities to athletic awards, opportunities and scholarships. 

Legislation is cherry-picking whose rights they aim to protect, and are arguing to solve a non-existent problem. Rarely do you hear about a student who has lost a title or trophy because of the participation of a trans athlete. 

The true destructive loss would be straight from the transgender youth community itself. All students deserve to feel safe and like they belong, regardless of their identity. 

Growing up as an athlete, my peers used sports as an avenue to express their true selves. With sports, I have found self-identity by finding my people, gaining leadership skills and learning valuable life lessons. Taking away these rights from transgender youth is blatant discrimination and will deprive children of the opportunity everyone deserves — to participate and discover themselves through sports.

Furthermore, the enactment of HB 2238 will not only create social isolation for kids on the field and in the gym but also in the classroom. The actions taken by HB 2238 will send a malignant narrative to transgender students that they are not welcomed or accepted for who they truly are.

Therefore, legislators cannot expect students to feel safe, respected and cared for in the classroom after their right to participate in athletics as their true selves are mindlessly stripped away.

Not only will this bill affect teenagers in Kansas, but it sends a shattering implication to all teenagers around the country — that legislators wrongfully voted against the rights of transgender teens to participate, learn and succeed in the same manner as their peers around them.

EDITORS NOTE: This editorial is last updated on April 6 following recent legislative decisions.