Studies continue to show that transgender girls aren't blocking opportunities for cis girls.
Republicans in Congress and state legislatures across the country are spreading misinformation about transgender people. They, as well as anti-LGBTQ groups, are propagating these myths as they oppose federal bills to expand nondiscrimination protections for queer, transgender, and nonbinary people and argue in favor of legislation that would block transgender youth's access to health care and sports.
On Wednesday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) argued against transgender people's rights and advocated for voting against the Equality Act, the landmark civil rights legislation introduced in the House on Feb. 18.
"You see, as a woman, I have competed in sports and I'm so thrilled that I was able to compete against biological women," she said. "They will be in her locker room. They will be in her showers. They will be in her bathroom. They will be in her hotel room when she travels with her team. All under the Equality Act."
Rep. Vicky Hartzler tweeted that the legislation will "erase decades of progress for women," and Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) said it should be called the "Forfeiting Women's Rights Act."
The Family Research Council, which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated that the Equality Act "jeopardizes the wellbeing of our children. The role of parents. The privacy & safety of vulnerable women."
On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) parroted such statements when questioning Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden's pick for assistant secretary for health, who is transgender. Paul suggested minors aren't capable of making "such a life-changing decision as changing one's sex."
Right-wing media outlets have amplified such messages about transgender young people's health care and sports participation.
Myth 1: Transgender girls are ruining sports for cisgender girls
Shoshana Goldberg, a researcher at the University of North Carolina whose work focuses on adolescent, LGBTQ, and sexual and reproductive health, said that the issue of transgender girls destroying fairness in women's sports is not a problem that actually exists and that state bills on the subject are mostly being pushed by national conservative groups.
"When you look at states like Connecticut and California, which have inclusive policies and women's sports, women's sports participation has gone up," she said. "The number of slots available and scholarships available for women athletes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association have gone up. We're not seeing that women are suddenly being forced out of sports in the states where trans athletes are able to participate."
Goldberg added, "Conservatives are using scare tactics and really politically charged language and taking advantage of the fact that a lot of people haven't thought about [transgender people and sports] or know anything about this."
Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, which provides crisis and suicide intervention to LGBTQ youth, said bans on transgender athletes playing on the sports team of their gender are "incredibly harmful to the mental health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary youth."
Myth 2: Transgender kids are just confused
Goldberg said that arguments from people like Paul and Greene that most transgender youth are simply confused and will grow out of the belief that they are transgender "has never really borne out" in research and that such arguments are "harmful and potentially life-threatening."
According to a 2015 National Center for Transgender Equality Survey, 8% of transgender people said they had detransitioned. The report notes, "The majority of respondents who de-transitioned did so only temporarily, and 62% were currently living full time in a gender different than the one they were thought to be at birth."
In a 2018 policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics opposed "conversion therapy," a medically debunked practice that purports to change a person's sexuality or gender identity, for transgender youth, and said variations in gender identity and expression are "normal aspects of human diversity."
Lawmakers who oppose puberty blockers and hormone treatments for transgender youth also falsely portray the transgender-affirming care as easy to access and ignore how much time, effort, and cost goes into accessing it, Goldberg added. They're also focusing on transgender people's bodies and leaving out that transitioning includes not just medical changes but also social development, and that transitioning varies from person to person, she added.
Goldberg also confirmed that surgery for minors is not a common occurrence. Dr. Lauren Wilson, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Montana chapter, told Montana Free Press in January, "Nobody is doing surgery on young children. It's just not happening."
Myth 3: Trans people are a danger to cis people
Another repeated claim pushed by Republican lawmakers and the religious right for years is that transgender girls and women are going to harm cisgender girls and women by using spaces appropriate for their gender such as single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and shelters.
A 2018 study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law did not find any evidence to support the idea that policies that allow transgender people to use the facilities of their gender led to more criminal incidents.
Republican lawmakers who focus on what they say is an increased risk of sexual assault against cisgender children make no mention of research on the risks faced by transgender children. A 2019 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that transgender and nonbinary students were at increased risk of sexual assault when they attended schools that did not allow them to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with their gender.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.