The District, considered a national leader on pro-LGBTQ issues, has made it clear it will not partake in a national effort to curtail their rights and has embraced such causes as allowing transgender youth to participate in sports in their chosen gender.
On March 11, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed legislation that would prohibit transgender athletes in public schools and colleges from participating in women’s sports – the first state to do so this year. Reeves’s action, which other states are considering, drew the rebuke of Alphonso David, the president of the District-based Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in the nation.
“These bills are not addressing any real problem and they’re not being requested by constituents,” David said. “Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate. What they don’t understand is opposing equality is highly unpopular – even among Trump voters – and states that pass legislation that attacks our community will face severe economic, legal and reputational harm.”
“In many cases, these legislative pushed are being prioritized above COVID-19 response and relief. This push comes as equality measures gain not only popular support but legislative momentum on the federal level, with the Biden administration championing equality in executive actions and the Congress considering the Equality Act within the first 100 days of the new administration.”
While South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has indicated her interest in signing an anti-transgender sports bill into law and state legislatures nationwide are considering 73 bills penalizing transgender citizens, four Republican U.S. senators recently questioned Amazon for refusing to sell an anti-transgender book, “When Harry Become Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.” The book, written by Ryan T. Anderson, posits LGBTQ individuals as mentally disturbed.
The District has a history of being receptive toward the transgender community.
D.C’s Long-Standing Transgender Tolerance
The District has a significant history of being receptive toward the transgender community. Legal scholars consider D.C.’s Human Rights Act of 1977 to be one of the strongest of its kind in the country. The law prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identification minorities in areas such as employment, public access, housing, credit and financial opportunities and health care.
As for the rights of youth, Clark Ray, director of the D.C. State Athletic Association, said transgender student-athletes in the District can compete in sports freely without any concern about gender identity.
“We allow students to participate in sports under the gender in which they want to identify,” Ray said.
His assertions remain in accordance with the May 5, 2020 edition of the DCSAA handbook which allows student-athletes the right to compete in any sport under their gender preference.
But Ray said new issues regarding gender identity may be on the horizon.
“There is also the issue of non-gender conformity,” he said. “There is a male athlete at H.D. Woodson who’s interested in volleyball, a traditionally female sport, and football. Young people these days don’t like to be held back by labels.”