Gender identity executive order protects students

Annabel Williamson, Managing editor

On January 20, 2021, the same day President Biden was Inaugurated as President of the United States, he signed an Executive Order on Preventing Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. Overall, this legally bans all discrimination against non-cisgender and non-heterosexual people. This executive order allows for transgender students to enter the bathroom, locker room, and play the sport of the gender they identify as. This new order created an eruption of controversy, and as many believe, this will create a new glass ceiling,or additional barrier, for female athletes and is thus “erasing women.” Despite concerns, Biden’s executive order causes more good than the potential harm for women sports. 

Once Biden signed the Executive Order, the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen trended on Twitter. The outrage came from the idea that transgender MTF (male to female) athletes will have a biological advantage coming in with the anatomy of a male, thus outperforming women and “erasing” the success and opportunities of women in sports. The example often used to prove the new glass ceiling are the stories of Terry Miller and Andreaya Yearwood. These two students were born male, then transitioned to female and began playing women’s sports. They quickly became top runners and began to outshine all other players at their Connecticut high school.

Outraged by Miller’s success, Chelsea Mitchell, along with two other Connecticut high school runners, filed a lawsuit to block transgender athletes, saying they have an unfair advantage. The case was lost as Mitchell beat Miller in the 55-yard dash, proving her own words false due to Miller’s so called “advantage,” even though it was still not enough to overcome Mitchell.

A cisgender beating a transgender female while claiming to be at a disadvantage shows the exaggerated fear of trans athletes that has little to no evidence of ever proving true. Despite the failing nature of the lawsuit, the case is still quite often used as an argument against transgender athletes in sports. 

The need felt to protect women in sports from any inequalities that may come with biological advantages or disadvantages are justified, but overall, the concern for the health and mental wellbeing of transgender students well surpasses the small possibility of an unfair competition. Especially with the amount of transgender students in high schools today. The Trevor Project shows 2% of American high school students identify as transgender, estimating to about 30,000 students. Data found as of April of 2020 reveals that 78.5% of non-cisgender students suffer from a mental health condition, with depression being the most common at 66.5%. Additionally, research has shown that transgender youth have an increased 23% feeling of sadness or hopelessness. The rates of those who have seriously considered suicide is 28% higher than cisgender youth, and as cisgender youth had a 7% suicide attempt rate, that of transgender youth was 35%. Transitioning in the peak of adolescence is proven to be difficult enough, so if being able to play sports for the team students chose to identify as will help the mental well being of trans students.

The fears of MTF transgender students harming female sports are genuine; that is a problem that will be faced as it occurs. This issue is incredibly rare and will not cause any problems that can’t be fixed. In the meantime, the wellbeing of trans students stuck in a heteronormative world much overpasses as a priority to high school athletics. Biden did the right thing by passing the executive order, and hopefully he continues on this path of one day heading to full equality. 

Terry Miller (center) is pictured here in a race for Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn. in 2019. Miller’s success in athletics led to a lawsuit in the state after she transitioned from a male to a female and was allowed to compete. She became a top runner in the state (Photo courtesy of NBC News).