Transgender Sports Ban Bill

Tim Rickabaugh – Sociology of Sport (SPMT 320) instructor

Recently (April, 2023) the US House of Representatives passed a Transgender Sports Ban Bill with no member voting across party lines on the controversial issue (219 Republicans “for” and 203 Democrats “against”). This bill states that, “Transgender athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth was male would be barred from competing on girls or women’s teams at federally funded schools and colleges”. Being that this is an issue central to the study of sport sociology, our SPMT 320 course discussed the bill and then voted on it as a class.

Despite 95% of our SPMT students personally supporting transgender individuals and rights as a whole, the class voted 16 to 3 in favor of the transgender sport ban. At face value, this would appear to be quite a contradiction, however, our students focused upon the central issue of fair competition when voting on the ban instead of placing judgement on transgender persons. In fact, 90% of our students felt that deciding whether to support the sport ban should require deep self-questioning and self-reflection upon one’s personal beliefs and attitudes.

What the class found to be most alarming was that it appeared that not a single member of the US House of Representatives appeared to question their own personal beliefs or to struggle with the issue; They simply voted along party lines. When questioned if the House vote indicated that politicians display fixed/rigid beliefs on issues related to the rights of transgender individuals, 85% agreed that our representatives cared more about voting along party lines than individually considering the importance of the issue. Both sides, Liberals and Conservatives alike, failed to show any true appreciation of the delicate balance between fairness in athletic competition with the inherent right of all individuals to participate in sports.

If Defiance College sport sociology students can take the time to personally consider, and struggle with
such a complex issue, why can’t our elected members of the US House of Representatives?

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