Republicans have failed constituents again and again amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, whether it’s about mask mandates, anti-vaccine hysteria, or unsafe school guidelines. In the face of more than 700,000 deaths in the United States alone, Republicans have been more than happy to distract from their mistakes by using whatever they can to get people mad about, well, someone else. A Republican favorite? Trans folks.

Daily Kos has covered numerous anti-trans bills that have cropped up (in both traditionally red and traditionally blue states, by the way) across the nation. While many of these bills have fizzled out in committee, some have gone through both the statehouse and state Senate and been signed into law by the state’s respective governors. The latest example of this tragedy comes to us from Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed an anti-trans sports bill into law, barring trans girls from participating on girls’ sports teams, as reported by The Texas Tribune

Abbott signed House Bill 25 into law on Monday, along with 18 other bills. HB 25 requires public school student-athletes from kindergarten through grade 12 to participate on the sports team that aligns with their gender assigned at birth, not necessarily corresponding with their actual lived identity. So if a student, for example, uses she/her/hers pronouns while in the classroom and is identified that way by peers, teachers, and family, she’d still be forced onto the boys’ team. That’s disturbing and problematic for obvious reasons. Even an updated birth certificate isn’t enough under this wildly transphobic new law—updated birth certificates would only be admissible if revisions were made because of a clerical mistake.

As of now, the bill is set to take effect on Jan. 18. Republicans who bolstered the legislation have claimed their rationale rests in feminism and women’s rights, suggesting that trans girls are potentially dangerous to cisgender girls and, in the big picture, that trans girls are not “really” girls. Feminism, mind you, includes all girls, both trans and cis. Republicans championing women’s rights rings fundamentally hollow, especially in a state like Texas, where some of the most restrictive anti-choice legislation in the country is alive and well. 

It’s unclear how to reach people who are so willing to push and pass such discriminatory legislation. In Texas, for example, we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of folks come to speak and appeal to lawmakers in person, even during the pandemic. We’ve seen both parents and children offer testimony about the dangers of this legislation and what it means to them to participate fully in life, which, for many young people, includes playing sports and spending time with teammates. 

Socialization is essential for youth, and given the high rates of depression, anxiety, and bullying reported among trans children and teenagers, it’s especially cruel to isolate trans athletes from opportunities to bond and build positive relationships. We also know sports can lead to opportunities for scholarships and careers or serve as motivation to stay in school or achieve certain grades. As always, we know one thing for sure: Cruelty is the point.

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