Laws banning transgender athletes are a ploy to control women

Adrienne Lawrence
Liberal Opinion

Adrienne Lawrence

Legal commentator
Archive |

The controversy over transgender athletes has become a heated issue across the country. As the debate over the fairness of allowing trans women to compete in sports continues, lawmakers have introduced anti-trans bills in 36 states this year. In Indiana and Utah, lawmakers quashed vetos by the state governors to pass laws banning transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports. Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence warns that these anti-trans laws are all a ploy to control women.

All said, women and girls don’t need protection from anything but the patriarchy. As for white supremacy, its presence here too is evident in the regulation of women’s bodies. These anti-trans laws are enforced on those who don’t look feminine. We know this because since that anti-trans Utah law was passed in March, parents have filed complaints against girl athletes, arguing “that female athletes do not look feminine enough.” 

Guess what? Our society defines femininity based on whiteness. Yeah, white women are the benchmark for what is “feminine.” From how a woman should be, keep her hair, her shape, her gait…everything about her appearance has been defined in our society based on white women. Sociologists have written scores of papers on the matter. And because whiteness dictates femininity, non-white women like myself are more likely to be targeted for not meeting the “standard,” because we’re less likely to bear the features of society’s ideal white woman. 

For that reason, non-white girls in Utah are far more likely to be subject to speculation in terms of whether we are or aren’t female.  Girls who look like me are targeted and torn down. 

Serena Williams, for example, has endured this type of shade for decades, as have other Black female athletes. These anti-trans laws limiting women in sports is really all part of policing the bodies of marginalized people. As Vice reported, this year 42 states have passed either anti-trans or anti-abortion laws, and more than half of states have considered anti-trans legislation. And as we know, anti-abortion laws adversely impact non-white women the most for a host of reasons. It’s all about what’s built into the inequities of our society. 

We don’t need more inequity in our society. That’s why those who are claiming to stand for equality, they should really be using their voices and their resources pushing back right now against anti-trans laws. Not because these laws are harming cisgender children who are talented in sports, but because these laws are a problem. They advance white male supremacy, which hurts us all.

After a high school athlete in Utah beat another girl by a wide margin during competition, the girl’s parents demanded that the school district check the athlete’s gender. And the school district obliged, confirming that the girl is and has always been female. This ongoing anti-trans hysteria is nothing more than a ploy to advance white male supremacy in a society on the verge of anomie. 

Those who claim to support gender equity and stand against white supremacy? They should be doing more to fight back. Let’s look at this story deeper. Because a girl got smoked by a girl with more talent, the talented girl’s gender was doubted and her privacy violated to assuage some loser parents.

Mind you, this ridiculous gender background check was all done without the talented girl’s knowledge. Although the names of the schools and parties involved were not publicly disclosed by the media so to protect the children’s identities, we know this happened last year, before Utah passed a law banning trans girls from participating in girl sports. 

While the Utah law is still being challenged by the ACLU, similar laws in Indiana and West Virginia have been struck down by federal courts. Yet the attack on trans children continues—all under the guise of protecting women. That’s simply how maintaining patriarchal white supremacy works. How do these anti-trans laws have anything to do with patriarchy and white supremacy? I’ll give you two of many examples that are out there. 

First, the patriarchy is readily apparent in this notion of needing to protect girls in sports in a way that boys don’t need protection. This is nothing more than benevolent sexism; that is, the thought that women are far more delicate than men and thus must be protected and handled with a certain degree of care that warrants withholding opportunities and choices and decisions from women and making decisions on their behalf. It’s simply a way to justify limiting women in life. 

In the case of trans girls in sports in particular, the facts confirm that these anti-trans laws are completely unnecessary. There’s no unchecked threat of trans girls dominating in sports. For example, when Republican Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the anti-trans bill, he noted that only four of the 75,000 high school kids playing school sports in Utah were trans. And of those four, only one student played on a girls’ team. Yet the Utah legislature overrode the veto, ushering in a nonsensical, unconstitutional law that unnecessarily prevents one trans girl from playing on her team.

How foolish is this?

Again, these laws rest on lies perpetuated in furtherance of benevolent sexism. Because really… If people truly cared about women having equal access in sports, there’d be less need for Title IX and there’d be adequate opportunities for women athletes. 

But Title IX is in full effect even though enforcement efforts continue to be sketchy and women athletes still struggle to enjoy meaningful support. All said, women and girls don’t need protection from anything but the patriarchy. As for white supremacy, its presence here too is evident in the regulation of women’s bodies.

These anti-trans laws are enforced on those who don’t look feminine. We know this because since that anti-trans Utah law was passed in March, parents have filed complaints against girl athletes, arguing “that female athletes do not look feminine enough.” 

Guess what? Our society defines femininity based on whiteness. Yeah, white women are the benchmark for what is “feminine.” From how a woman should be, keep her hair. her shape, her gait…everything about her appearance has been defined in our society based on white women. Sociologists have written scores of papers on the matter. And because whiteness dictates femininity, non-white women like myself are more likely to be targeted for not meeting the “standard,” because we’re less likely to bear the features of society’s ideal white woman. 

For that reason, non-white girls in Utah are far more likely to be subject to speculation in terms of whether we are or aren’t female.  Girls who look like me are targeted and torn down. 

Serena Williams, for example, has endured this type of shade for decades, as have other Black female athletes. These anti-trans laws limiting women in sports is really all part of policing the bodies of marginalized people. As Vice reported, this year 42 states have passed either anti-trans or anti-abortion laws, and more than half of states have considered anti-trans legislation.

And as we know, anti-abortion laws adversely impact non-white women the most for a host of reasons. It’s all about what’s built into the inequities of our society. 

We don’t need more inequity in our society. That’s why those who are claiming to stand for equality, they should really be using their voices and their resources pushing back right now against anti-trans laws. Not because these laws are harming cisgender children who are talented in sports, but because these laws are a problem. They advance white male supremacy, which hurts us all.


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