Another wall in Texas, this time against trans people

Adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force on September 2, 1990, and has been ratified by 196 countries – including the US. Some US states, the most recent of them Texas, seem to turn a blind eye to the first paragraph of Article 3, which says: “All actions relating to the child, whether taken by public or private welfare institutions, courts, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, should consider primarily the best interests of the child.”

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that placed restrictions on transgender teens’ access to school sports. Children and teenagers can only participate in sports and teams that correspond to their gender described in the birth certificate, ignoring the identity of each one.

It was this understanding that led, in 2018, the transgender teenager Mack Beggs to fight against his classmates. The result? The boy won the competition twice, and had the results of his fights contested by the parents of the opponents. Mack never wanted to compete against the girls, but he was forced as the school and the state blocked his access to the male category.

Both then and now, the rationale for law enforcement is that it reflects the government’s interest in ensuring equality of “interscholastic athletic opportunities for girls.”

In conversation with the Brazil in fact, Travers, professor of sociology at Simon Fraiser University, does not believe the text. “This has nothing to do with protecting cis-gender athletes, because women’s sport has historically been subjugated and underfunded. And, you know, when you don’t give athletes the same resources, it’s clear you’re taking sides,” she says.

Also according to Travers, it is essential that society discusses what is considered a fair and unfair advantage. “People don’t complain about someone extremely tall, like Michael Phelps, or Katie Ledecky, who are athletes who win every competition thanks to their super favorable genetics,” he says.

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Transgender runner Joanna Harper agrees but has her caveats. “I believe that certain transgenders may indeed have some advantages, that’s why I defend regulation, not prohibition”, he says.

Harper researches the participation of trans people in sport and has already advised the International Olympic Committee on decisions on the subject.

For her, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has done a good job in this regard, accepting transgender participation but imposing certain rules. It is necessary, for example, that the athletes are within a predetermined hormonal range, which does not guarantee them an advantage over the others.

Even with all the information available on the transgender agenda, the fact that states like Texas and other American states that ignore the data is hardly a surprise – in fact, it is exactly the opposite.

“It’s all pretty clear when you realize that the same states that are barring trans women from competing in schools are the same ones that are passing other proposals that restrict the rights of trans people,” adds Harper, “are barring hormone therapy, surgery of social designation by the public network, and even messing up the issue of bathrooms”.

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By making the path even more difficult for trans young people, experts believe that this measure will reduce the participation of these athletes in all sports.

“A lot of young trans people have come to tell me that they’re not even going to try to be a part of any sport, because everything else is too difficult,” laments Dr. Harper.

Harper reminds us that the cradle of modern sports is not Ancient Greece, as many believe, but Europe – and that says a lot about what we live in. “Sports emerged in Europe and its colonies explicitly to promote a hetero-patriarchal society and masculinity. So none of this is accidental, because every institution plays a role.”

Challenging this “normality” is not easy, especially for those who do not have family support or a support network. Despite the odds, Joanna Harper never stopped running, but she knows that her decision was not free.

Although her memories are not pleasant, the teacher and sportsman prefers to share the inspiring experiences: “before I moved to England, I lived in Portland, Oregon, and ran through a club, as part of a group of women with more than 40 years,” he says.

Embraced by her teammates, coaches and other club members, Harper can’t control her emotion when she remembers the support she received there. “They treated me like any other running woman,” she says.

Wanting to be “just another one” is a very low ambition for most people, but it is the journey of a lifetime for those who still need to prove to part of society that gender is a matter of identity, not choice.

Edition: Thales Schmidt

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