by Robin Kemp

The Georgia Senate voted 34-22 Thursday to ban transwomen and trans girls from playing on sports teams in public schools, colleges, and universities, as well as on private school teams that play against public schools.

Opponents of Senate Bill 266 said it would create actual harm to transgender children and characterized the legislation as seeking to protect against what they said was “imaginary harm” to cisgender girls who play team sports. They cited vague language in the bill that incorrectly defines “gender” as “sex,” as well as studies that show nearly half of all transgender youth are more likely to commit suicide.

Backers of the bill said it would remove an unfair biological advantage that they claim transgender girls have over cisgender girls–specifically, that transgender girls as a group are necessarily stronger or faster than cisgender girls.

The bill did not address transboys or transmen playing on boys’ and men’s teams.

Similar bills are in the House this session.

Clayton County Senators Gail Davenport and Valencia Seay voted against the bill.

SB 266 would give cisgender students and their parents the right to ask schools and coaches to force transgirls (or, in the case of college athletics, transwomen) off the team, to seek relief in Superior Court if the school or coach refuses, and to recover legal fees and costs (but no monetary damages):

Sen. Marty Harbin called the bill a “common sense” measure that would keep “biological girls” from losing competitions and scholarships.

During floor debate, Sen. Sally Harrell took to the well in tears.

“I’m the mother of a trans child and it’s hard to stand up here and say that because it hurts, it really, really hurts,” she told colleagues.
Harrell said her child asked whether the bill would come up today, which she confirmed. They then had a long exchange via a Google Doc, which she said they use for complicated discussions. Neither of them could come up with a solution, she said, but they agreed that schools need to come up with ways to make sports more open to all children, including trans kids.
Earlier today, The Clayton Crescent asked the Clayton County Public Schools how many trans youth are enrolled and whether any of them play sports, as well as CCPS’ policy on trans youth. We sought comment on the matter on a short deadline prior to the bill’s passage.
A spokesperson replied, “Thank you for your inquiry. We will share it with district leaders for possible feedback. We will work our best to accommodate your deadline, however, it may be later than requested.”

We will update with any response.

On the House side, State Rep. Rhonda Burnough told The Clayton Crescent, “Our students have just survived almost two years of isolation because of COVID. Instead of developing legislation to help them get back on track, the authors of those bills are proposing legislation to push our children  further apart from their peers. We live in a polarized nation because of hateful stereotypes. Let’s not continue to endanger our children and their ability to fully participate in important extracurricular activities or allow them the opportunity to select a book to read. Our focus should be on developing well-rounded students because they are truly our future.”

What is it like to be transgender?

Transgender and non-binary (neither male nor female) people explain the basics in this video from the National Center for Transgender Equality:

About 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, according to the Atlanta nonprofit Lost n Found Youth. Many young LGBTQ people whose families reject them wind up on the street, where they are subjected to violence and sexual abuse, and can fall into addiction and trading sex for food and shelter. They also may be rejected by some organizations that serve homeless people, based on their status as LGBTQ people.

Violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people reached a record high in 2020, then was surpassed in 2021, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. In 2020, at least 44 trans or gender-nonconforming people were murdered. In 2021, at least 47 were murdered.

Among those victims were several Georgians:

Sophie Vasquezof Brookhaven

Serenity Hollis of Albany

Scott/Scottlyn Kelly DeVore of Augusta

Felycya Harris of Augusta

Bianca “Muffin” Banks of Atlanta

Five other transgender people murdered in Georgia since 1978 have not been identified. Their bodies were found in Atlanta, Cobb County, and Eatonton.

Patrick Saunders of Project Q reported in 2021 that those five Georgians, as well as others, are the subject of trans-led cold case investigations. Anthony Redgrave of the Trans Doe Task Force, which does genetic investigations of trans murder victims, told Saunders, “Every day I wake up and think that I could be one of those people on this list. For that and the fact that we’ve continued to survive, we have to continue going back to the people who didn’t make it.”

If you are a transgender student athlete, or if you or your child is transgender, and you live in Clayton County or the Southern Crescent, we would like to hear from you. Contact editor@claytoncrescent.org and tell us your story.

Resources

Here is a list of every bill in the Georgia Assembly this session that refers to the word “gender.”

If you are an LGBTQ+ person experiencing homelessness in metro Atlanta, you can call or text Lost n Found Youth at (678) 856-7825.

If you are an LGBTQ+ youth in crisis, you can call The Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or text 678678.


Transparency note: The reporter is a member of the LGBTQ+ community who identifies as lesbian (she/her), and has two family members, once deceased, who are transgender/nonbinary.

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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