Thursday, December 04, 2014

Another anti-trans ad in Minnesota

The Minnesota State High School League meets tonight to discuss their policy for the inclusion of transgender students in sports. And earlier this week, the Minnesota non-profit Child Protection League Action went back in transphobic action with a second full-page ad published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

And this one has garnered far more attention than the first, making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook and generating many calls and emails to the Tribune, which is being chastised for running this second ad. (The Tribune met with people concerned about the content and message of the first ad but seems not to have taken much from it. The newspaper itself is coming under attack for printing the second ad. There are petitions out for the paper to issue an apology.)

The ad include a picture of a seemingly despondent female softball player and the copy of the ad reads as follows:
The ends of girls' sports?
Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your daughter just lost her position on an all-girls team to a male...and now she may have to shower with him.
Are you willing to let that happen?

The ad also includes contact information for the leaders of MSHSL so a reader can express the outrage CPLA assumes readers will have.

Similar themes as the last ad (predatory males taken sexual advantage of female athletes, the shower as fraught space, and the complete ignorance of what transgender means) and now the added fear mongering: transgender women (which the CPLA refers to as men) will ruin women's sports.

I could dissect all the problems with the rhetoric, but I feel that it is an exercise in frustration to fight the logic of such a group. (Plus I kind of did it the other day.) My concern is more about the ad's effects. I have never heard of such vehement, hateful opposition to a high school policy that attempts to be inclusive. I believe this policy would have passed back in September, without revision and little fanfare but for the work of this group and their Catholic allies.

Now there is an even more problematic policy--one that is still in danger of not passing--based on hormones and other medical interventions and testimony of health professionals (though I have read elsewhere that all that is required is the confirmation of a parent).

"A female-to-male transgender student who has started hormone treatment can only play on male teams. One who hasn’t can play on either team. A male-to-female student must provide evidence of testosterone suppression therapy. The shower policy requires school districts (when possible) to provide private shower and changing facilities to any student athlete who requests them. It also bars school districts from revealing that a student athlete is a transgender person.”

The reliance on hormones as a measure of gender reveals the restrictive nature of the policy and puts it more in line with other restrictive policies that exist at higher levels of competition including the NCAA recommendations and the IOC's Stockholm Consensus. It does not follow the trend in policies by other high school athletic associations.

Finally, the idea that transgender students will be kept anonymous is highly suspect. Because the policy allows schools to decide how to handle the issue of showers and locker rooms, it is difficult to understand how privacy could be maintained when one student is singled out and asked to use a private bathroom facility at his/her own school or during an away contest. This aspect of policy is quite worrisome and, as I said, would seem to contradict the desire for students to be able to maintain control information about their identity.

A curious aside: the picture of the softball-playing young woman used in the ad is is lifted from a novel about lesbian teenagers. One: oh, the irony. Two, copyright violation?

I assume an update about what happened at the meeting will be forthcoming.