I want them to live
March 26, 2022 8:18 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, Republican Governor Spencer Cox vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high-school sports (the second Republican Governor to do so (NYT link) this week). In doing so, he wrote a (perhaps surprisingly) thoughtful letter in an attempt to appeal to the humanity of his fellow legislators.

Yesterday, the Utah House and Senate overrode his veto.
posted by fight or flight (36 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've tried to start a comment four or five times now, but I keep deleting the entire thing because I am just so. fucking. angry.
posted by xedrik at 8:44 AM on March 26 [43 favorites]


They don’t have any, you know, policies that improve folks lives or even poll particularly well. Doubling down on culture war is literally their only play to drive their voters to the polls. It will get increasingly frenetic as their voter base dwindles.

Voter suppression and coup attempts are not signs of a confident party.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:49 AM on March 26 [46 favorites]


Cox may well be a “stopped clock,” but if indeed he’s right twice a day, it might just be at LGBTQ+ issues o’clock.

The Utah Legislature, meanwhile, has never given one good God damn about girls’ sports until now. I doubt any of them who are old enough were supporters of Title IX back in the day.

What they’re trying to “protect” here is their own cherished fiction that all AMAB bodies are naturally more athletic and strong than all AFAB bodies, across all sports, because this is Utah and gender essentialism is gospel.

As I’ve heard several people point out, you know the kind of men who never recreate at all but earnestly believe they could beat the Williams sisters at tennis? Same guys who tend to make laws around here.

I’m embarrassed for us all. But what else is new?
posted by armeowda at 8:51 AM on March 26 [35 favorites]


This is disgusting.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:55 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Some related links:

Erica Sullivan, US Olympic swimmer, writes an opinion piece: "Why I'm Proud to Support Trans Athletes like Lia Thomas"

More than 300 current and former NCAA, Team USA and international swimmers and divers signed an open letter in support of Lia Thomas.

10 trans US athletes to (vocally) support.

If anyone is coming to this thread to ask "how can I help?" the answer is always the same: contact your legislators to express your outrage and pledge your support. Use the power of your vote when you can. Be loud and proud in your challenging of harmful speech in the people around you.
posted by fight or flight at 8:58 AM on March 26 [17 favorites]


Utah state senator Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, who voted against the override:

"If it costs me my seat, then so be it," Thatcher said. "If I lose my race, I lose my race standing for what I believe in."
posted by armeowda at 9:20 AM on March 26 [29 favorites]


Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars spent to make life worse for one girl in Utah.

One girl.

I hope she runs for office some day.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:40 AM on March 26 [79 favorites]


stop punching down, republicans.
posted by heyitsgogi at 9:40 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Well, the Republican party has succeeded in one goal... I no longer feel very safe to live in this country.
posted by Jacen at 9:53 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist (and IMHO, national treasure) Pat Bagley nutshells it perfectly.
posted by armeowda at 9:59 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


This seems to be the Republican strategy this mid-term... drive all the wedge issues such as LGBTQ+ issues that can drive the conservatives to vote, by going ultra-conservative.

This will either get them the turnaround they wanted, or completely destroy them for decades as they disgust any of the moderates they have.
posted by kschang at 10:00 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


This will either get them the turnaround they wanted, or completely destroy them for decades as they disgust any of the moderates they have.

keep punching down, republicans.
posted by heyitsgogi at 10:04 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


What gets me is that it’s only a first step to get across the idea that transgender people are not valid anywhere: they can’t use the bathroom public (they shouldn’t go in public), they can’t play sports (they’re not really students), they can’t transition (because) - and I fear it’s an endless road of hate. Politically profitable hate.
posted by kerf at 10:12 AM on March 26 [13 favorites]


Punching down is all they’ve got. Literally nothing else.
posted by hijinx at 10:13 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


Dr Chuck Tingle making sense, as always (click the link to see an example of the argument he's making):
very common for seemingly liberal buds to say 'i support trans buds but sports gets complicated'. good test to see if they actually MEAN values they speak online or if this is just empty political phrase they use. if 'trans women are women' then you should support trans athletes


And again:
'trans women are women... until they try to SWIM' will go down as one of the goofiest dang arguments in history, especially coming from fake left devils who wave a flag of being 'logical' and 'fact based' WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT?


This whole thing is hateful, but I'm used to hate from big-c conservatives. What gets to me the most is seeing these "liberal" takes on the situation that always begin, "I support trans people, but.." or, "I believe trans women are women, but.." as if they don't realise how completely pointless it is to include anything beyond the "but" when it comes to proving you're just a transphobic jackass in a Love Means Love shirt.
posted by fight or flight at 10:19 AM on March 26 [54 favorites]


keep punching down, republicans

They keep rigging election boundaries and elections, themselves. The more they are allowed to punch, the worse it will get.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:31 AM on March 26 [10 favorites]


Doubling down on culture war is literally their only play to drive their voters to the polls. It will get increasingly frenetic as their voter base dwindles.

I really wish folks would disavow themselves of the idea that the republican base will, eventually, simply evaporate. Those were pretty young members of the republican base who stormed the Capitol. Walk into any suburban evangelical church on a Sunday, and you’ll see hundreds of young faces and their families, who largely vote republican. Most police forces in the US are overwhelmingly on the young side, and that particular cohort votes overwhelmingly republican.

Republicans aren’t going anywhere except further to the right.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:37 AM on March 26 [59 favorites]


If you have wanted to be a good ally and support trans and intersex girls and women so that they can participate in athletics, but have not been sure how to address the biological essentialist arguments you constantly encounter, here is a good, substantial social media post laying things out, historically, biologically, and politically.
posted by DrMew at 10:46 AM on March 26 [29 favorites]


If I were religious, I'd be praying hard for the hand of God to be stretched out in protection over that young lady.
posted by praemunire at 10:50 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


A side benefit of this will be to reduce or even eradicate sports programs for girls - they were thinking ahead! This will help eliminate opportunities for all those dreadful mannish cis-girls to do un-womanly things like running and kicking and throwing balls. I expect they are feeling quite smug today. Now they just need to get them out of science and leadership programs.
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:08 AM on March 26 [15 favorites]


I could (vaguely) understand if this were about top-tier, elite athletics like the Olympics and other world-record competitions.

But this is all about college, high-school, and younger sports. Where they repeatedly talk about how it's about "character, not about winning or losing." Instilling virtues like discipline, perseverance, camaraderie, and such.

Even if trans athletes had an advantage (they don't), it shouldn't matter any more than the fact that kids go through growth and development spurts at different times and still play against their peers.

This is not about protecting sports integrity. It's only even vaguely about attacking trans kids. It's about getting laws on the books that define and reinforce their definition of what gender is. People really need to understand that they're not going to stop at hurting just trans people.
posted by explosion at 11:14 AM on March 26 [14 favorites]


I could (vaguely) understand if this were about top-tier, elite athletics like the Olympics and other world-record competitions.

I could not. If you believe that trans women are women, there are no justifiable grounds for excluding them from elite sports.

It's not just that it is questionable whether or not they have an advantage. It's also just that, since they're women, whatever physical advantage they might have doesn't matter. All elite athletes have some sort of physical advantage. If you think that these alleged physical advantages are disqualifying in a way that, say, being tall isn't, then what you really believe is that you think these physical differences take them out of the category of "woman" in a way that, say, being tall doesn't.

A lot of social conservatives will proudly say yes, that's what they believe. But I am immensely frustrated by people who say they support trans people turning around and showing their whole asses on this issue.

If trans women dominate elite pole vaulting in fifty years, I don't care in the same way I don't care that tall women dominate elite pole vaulting now.

I'm not saying that's what you believe, because it's just one sentence in a larger comment, but it's something that I think bears repeating when this comes up. I don't think a lot of people realize what sort of assumptions they're making when they voice their concerns over trans women in elite sports.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:33 AM on March 26 [58 favorites]


What gets to me the most is seeing these "liberal" takes on the situation that always begin, "I support trans people, but.."
Yes. THAT.

I have to chime in here because this is one of the few places in my life I can talk openly about being trans, and I am a trans woman who is an athlete. Any debate on whether I belong competing against other women is one of the most invalidating experiences I encounter.

Before transition, I identified as a fairly tall, scrawny, 44-year-old nerd who dreamed of being a girl, and happened to practice Aikido moderately well.

Now? People who meet me ask me if I played volleyball or basketball growing up. And they're right - I am an athlete now.

One month on testosterone blockers, with T levels still much too high, I found myself in a brown belt test being absolutely miserable as all my endurance was gone.

I spent the next five years finding out that now, I identify as an athletic woman. I am proud of what I can do in the dojo, what I can do on a bicycle, what I can do sword fighting at a LARP. No, I'm not an "elite athlete" - but I am a black belt who teaches children - some of them little girls who look up to me as a role model of what they can do. I occasionally place in the top ten in the women in a climb on Zwift - or God forbid, I take the women's jersey on days when few of us are riding. And the other women at the LARP look to me as a role model as well, picking up a sword or putting on armor themselves because they see me showing it's okay for women to be warriors too.

At my synagogue, the other women followed my lead in being the first to lead daily services - now there are several of us doing it. At work? I'll be our first woman Vice President.

You could look at all of that as someone with an unfair advantage - a body frame (5'11") taller than I might have ended up with, or perhaps bones that are a bit tougher, or a brain that wasn't told growing up that 'girls shouldn't do that' - but then you would be a transphobe. You wouldn't be accepting me fully as a woman.

Instead, we need to be looking at trans people as what we are: examples that our cis competitors can actually look to. In my case, a woman - and in the case of trans men, examples of what men can accomplish. And the non-binary athletes? We need to be proud of them, too. Allow them to compete as they identify, in existing or new categories that they find suit them best.

So put up or shut up, trans allies. Either you accept us as who we are, or you're not our friends. Not our allies, and we will lead the way to find our rights. Trans people have been leaders before, and we will be again.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 11:42 AM on March 26 [121 favorites]


I live in Park City, Utah. If we get the 2030 Olympics (which Salt Lake is bidding on but Park City will be the major alpine area for as it was in 2002) I stand to make a small fortune on our property value increasing, being only a few minutes from major venues, even over the near 100% increase we had during the pandemic. Like potentially sell up before the games, retire in my 50’s, move home to NZ and live well type deal.

But even more than I want that, I want the US Olympic committee to be pressured into pulling the Salt Lake bid *so hard* until this is reversed. Like fuck it - we simply shouldn’t have a major sporting event in this state until this is reversed.

Between this, huge climate change challenges that are clearly evident in Utah (say goodbye to the Great Salt Lake!), and massive inwards migration to Utah of relatively more liberal people, I actually think there is a chance of a shift in Utah politics - it will be slow and gerrymandering to extremes is not helping. But for what it is worth - we have friends with a Trump photo next to their bed (yes - I know, I fucking know, but when you have special needs kids you take your friends as you find them - any other family who also has special needs kids at the same age and can deal with hour long meltdowns on a play date by your kids is a port in the storm) - and even they seem to get that climate change is getting extreme, that maybe picking on LGBTQ+ kids is wrong, and maybe them crazy liberals may be right occasionally.

Fuck the majority of the current Utah state legislature though. Hateful fucking assholes.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:32 PM on March 26 [22 favorites]


The weirdos comic sums it all up: if it's weird/different, the Republicans want it gone/dead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:10 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Mod note: Couple comments removed, let's cut it out with the reductive hot-take brinksmanship stuff. You can just talk at more and more nuanced length about the stuff you're thinking, if the intent is to contribute to a conversation instead of just stake out territory for staking's sake.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on March 26


One only has to look at cases like Caster Semenya's or Dutee Chand's to see that the exclusionary camp doesn't even have a coherent working definition of cis womanhood that isn't merely a (racialized) weapon. These are AFAB women of color who, only after their athletic success was questioned, discovered through invasive medical requirements that they possess biological characteristics often considered intersex (I do not know whether either of them now identify that way). To be clear, transphobia would not somehow be okay if its understanding of womanhood was more coherent. But it's worth pointing out that these categories are not even as clear-cut as the exclusionists posit. I saw a thought-provoking tweet the other day noting that the majority of cis people actually have no idea what chromosomes they have. In the exclusionist vision for sports, any cis woman athlete too should really make sure she knows her full genetic and hormonal profile at all times (papers please) or risk losing her athletic career. Not to in any way de-center the trans people, the trans KIDS, who are clearly the target and recipient for this hatred; but the ramifications of this type of gender policing are so wide.
posted by dusty potato at 4:17 PM on March 26 [11 favorites]


the ramifications of this type of gender policing are so wide

Yep, and it's deeply insidious. And it's only going to get worse as this sort of legislation becomes normalised (much like the way trans lives have become something that you can "debate").

As a trans man, it's not difficult to see the way this whole thing is fuelled by misogyny, which doesn't just impact trans women and girls. Though there are plenty of trans male athletes out there, also playing at this level, trans boys aren't considered as much of a "threat". Why? Because these legislators and transphobes don't consider us men, so obviously we'll never beat cis men in sports (even though there are trans guys at the top of their game and definitely beating cis men). It's particularly horrible to feel relieved to be overlooked in these hateful tirades, while also knowing that the relief of being invisible stems from transphobia. There's a good article on this here on InsideHook.
posted by fight or flight at 4:42 PM on March 26 [30 favorites]


You could look at all of that as someone with an unfair advantage - a body frame (5'11") taller than I might have ended up with, or perhaps bones that are a bit tougher, or a brain that wasn't told growing up that 'girls shouldn't do that' - but then you would be a transphobe. You wouldn't be accepting me fully as a woman.

So this is my mea culpa. When it comes to elite sport, I did have a vague feeling that trans women possibly, maybe had a small unfair advantage because of testosterone growing up.

Your comment, Flight Hardware, do not touch, and DrMew's article link made it very clear why I was wrong. I viscerally would defend women athletes against invasive testing to see if they're 'really' women, and officials trying to exclude them because they're black and have too much testosterone, or are XY, or any of the other variations given that sex really isn't a simple binary biologically; I know this, and I know it's rooted in misogyny, policing women's bodies still. We accept as fair without question all sorts of physical advantages in elite sport from all sorts of other causes such as height or body shape or low lactic acid etc etc etc. And being an elite athlete takes a lot more than just a physical advantage. And that absolutely applies to trans women too.

Not thinking so means I'm still buying into some remnant of the whole gender essentialism bullshit, and it means I don't really accept trans women as fully women in some circumstances.

So I'm genuinely sorry; you're absolutely right, and I'll try and do better.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:58 AM on March 27 [18 favorites]


Abolish gendered sports and let people compete in classes based on parameters such as height and weight. We could do that, it's not a big leap. It makes more sense than scanning chromosomes or hormone levels.

But we can't because misogyny.
posted by emjaybee at 4:26 AM on March 27 [13 favorites]


But we can't because misogyny.

After all, isn't the only reason we have "women's sports" is the centuries that men kept women from playing sports at all? It's pretty clear that ON AVERAGE, men and women can compete fairly based on weight/skill classes, and that terrifies some of them.
posted by mikelieman at 5:37 AM on March 27 [9 favorites]


The same people who are so passionately against having kids put on masks, insist that others wear one preferably for the rest of their lives. That’s what this is really about. For every trans kid who actually has supportive parents and gets the support they need; there are countless more who are wearing a mask everyday. Some pray that the feelings go away; others just want to make it through high school and get away to make their fresh start. Many end up killing themselves.

These laws are not designed to protect kids, to ensure fair competition; they are a way to make it clear that trans people need to wear a mask and disappear.
posted by interogative mood at 10:35 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


There will always be a small group of athletes who are the best and most people will not be in that group, thinking "Wow, I will never be that good." The only question is how many other people are allowed to participate.

In a lot of sports the few athletes at the top used to all be white, but most white people had no chance of being in that group. Now we allow people of color to participate, and a few more white people have joined the group who will never be the best, but a huge number of people are allowed to play who were previously not allowed to participate at all.
posted by straight at 11:21 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


The fog of Utah. It's much worse in Idaho.
posted by Oyéah at 12:50 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]




Not thinking so means I'm still buying into some remnant of the whole gender essentialism bullshit, and it means I don't really accept trans women as fully women in some circumstances.

So I'm genuinely sorry; you're absolutely right, and I'll try and do better


I don't exactly mean to single you out, ANYKW, but that's exactly the reason why anti-trans groups have specifically focused on sports. Good "allies" like you and explosion, or fairweather "allies" who just say "trans women are women" and put pronouns in their signature as a liberal shibboleth, are easy targets for things that *seem* to have a scientific gloss, that *seem* reasonable based on "common sense" and shallow biology.

It works. It seems logical if you don't think about it too much or understand any of the science, because, yeah, men are on average stronger than women, thanks to puberty, and of course, the stereotype is that trans "women" went through male puberty and were raised as men and played with boys... as if that first molecule of testosterone is the original sin that taints trans women everywhere, forever consigning us to a singular manhood, an inescapable event horizon.

Anti-trans groups have figured out that bathroom bills aren't subtle. It's grotesque and every "ally" can see that blaring alarm.

But sports? Or protecting little kids? Especially "confused" ones, who might not know what they really want? Or teenagers, or early 20s kids, whose brains haven't developed yet, are they really ready for transitioning?

They're easier to believe, if you're cis. Cloying lies that seem "reasonable" and like vaguely understandable concerns. And so few cis "allies" ever dig deeper.

Why should you? Your necks aren't on the line. You can use our trauma as fundraising opportunities for the next round of elections. And every single time, another "reasonable concern" will crop up because, as the Lauren Hough award meltdown case, or how the liberal pundit/substack crowd defends and platforms people like Singal, Herzog, and Shrier, or how any time trans people make a tiny peep the free speech/anti-cancel culture brigade gets NYTimes inches, or how Chapelle and Gervais are getting more specials on Netflix, or how the HRC CEI still gives perfect scores to Disney and Fox, prove, the media will rarely to never speak with us at all, preferring to talk about us and over us instead.
posted by i used to be someone else at 2:13 PM on March 27 [18 favorites]


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