by Robin Kemp

The Georgia Senate is set to take up a bill that would ban transgender students from taking part in sports in high school, state colleges and universities, and private schools that compete against public institutions.

Senate Bill 266 would:

  • define “gender” as “a person’s biological sex and shall be solely recognized based on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth”
  • ban local school systems and private schools “whose students or teams compete against a local school system in this state” from operating, sponsoring, or facilitating “interscholastic or intramural athletics that permit a person whose gender is male to
    participate in any interscholastic or intramural athletics that are designated for females”
  • allow students “aggrieved by an alleged violation or anticipated violation of this subsection or his or her parent or guardian” to file a complaint against any employee involved “if a violation or anticipated violation is determined to exist or about to occur”
  • if the employee allows a trans student to pay, “such complaining party shall have the right of an immediate appeal to the local board of education for relief,” as well as the right to sue for enforcement of the law in Superior Court
  • if the complaining party wins, they “shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees, court costs, and expenses of litigation, but shall not be entitled to any monetary damages”
  •  an exception is carved out for the American Disabilities Act

State Sen. Kim Jackson (D-41), an ordained minister who was an elite athlete and who is a lesbian, said the same myths about gay athletes–preying on straight teammates in the locker room or grabbing them inappropriately on the field–that she had to suffer through 20 years ago are being used against transwomen athletes.

“You are loved by God,” she stressed.

“Trans girls are girls. Trans women are women. And we see you.”

Here is the full text of Jackson’s speech:

I rise this morning to speak to young women and girls in our great state and beyond. I rise to speak directly to all girls, cis and trans alike.

First, despite what others may say, I want to be clear: trans girls are girls. Trans women are women. We see you.

When I was growing up, sports were a central part of my life. However, back then, in the early 00’s, adults said really cruel things to me about gay athletes. At first they pretended like same sex attraction wasn’t real.

Then when they could no longer deny that, they said that people who loved like me, people who are gay. They said that there was something wrong with us.

In college, I became an elite athlete and had the great privilege of representing our country on the United States National Team. I played team handball on the world stage, proudly wearing a uniform with USA emblazoned on the back, while never feeling free to be my full self.

As I stand here today, the very same accusations and mischaracterizations that were hurled at me 20 years ago, are now being used to harm a new generation of children.

I want you know, that they were wrong to be afraid of us and to deny our dignity then. And they are wrong to be afraid of you and to deny your dignity now.

I am committed to creating a world where you don’t have to go through what I went through.

I am committed to creating a world where girls — all girls — get to feel safe and free to be exactly who they are.

Finally, with the authority that I have as a trained theologian and ordained pastor, I want all young women, girls, and non-binary students to understand this: 

You are Loved by God.

You are created in the image of a God who transcends any human concept of gender, feminine, masculine, and nonbinary alike. You are Loved.

Watch the Senate floor live:

Georgia Senate Floor

Several bills this session attempt to limit transgender students’ ability to take part in organized school sports:

  • HB 372 would define “gender” as based on the sex organs a person has at birth. Gender is widely defined as the social expectation for how a person presents themselves in relation to their sex; sex is widely defined as the sex organs a person has at birth.
  • HB 276 would ban transwomen from playing on women’s teams and allow non-transgender athletes two years to sue educational institutions for any alleged damages arising from playing on a team with or against a transgender athlete: “Any student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers any direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this subsection shall have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law against the board of regents. Sovereign immunity of the state shall be specifically waived for purposes of this paragraph. All civil actions shall be initiated within two years after the harm occurred. Persons who prevail on a claim brought pursuant to this subsection shall be entitled to monetary damages, including damages for any psychological, emotional, or physical harm suffered, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and any other appropriate relief.”

This morning’s Senate invocation included a call for acceptance of diversity, including “he, she, and they.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ political group, offers this list of myths about transpeople.

More to come.

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....