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Transgender Mainers, Allies Oppose Bill Targeting Trans Student Athletes

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Maine is one of 20 states that have introduced bills aimed at banning transgender students from participating in school sports. (Michael Chamberlin/Adobe Stock)
Maine is one of 20 states that have introduced bills aimed at banning transgender students from participating in school sports. (Michael Chamberlin/Adobe Stock)
 By Lily Bohlke, Public News Service - ME - Producer, Contact
March 9, 2021

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Advocates for transgender Mainers are opposing a newly introduced bill in the state Legislature which would ban trans students from participating in girls' or women's school sports.

Maine is one of more than 20 states where similar legislation has been introduced.

Quinn Gormley, executive director of the Maine Transgender Network, said the bill is part of a national campaign to target trans people, especially trans young people.

"It's really a disingenuous effort on the part of people who would like to see trans people unable to participate in school and in society at large," Gormley asserted.

The bill would require students who want to challenge a school's questioning of their gender to undergo a privacy-invading medical exam.

Gormley contended while the network is confident it won't pass in the Legislature, even debating bills like this can be harmful to trans kids.

While proponents say they're trying to protect female athletes from unfair competition, in nearly all the states pursuing similar bills, sponsors have been unable to point to a single local instance in which trans participation has been an issue.

Gormley pointed to research that shows when trans kids are encouraged to participate in sports, all students benefit.

"We know that trans inclusion is not only good for making school life and student life safer for trans girls, but more encouraging of growth and leadership developments and teamwork for all girls, which is of course the benefits anyone gets from playing on a sports team in school," Gormley explained.

Gormley added it's key to understand the bill did not come up organically in Maine; rather, it came from conservative national groups drafting model legislation for states to take up in accordance with their own political motivations.

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