In a disheartening yet unfortunately expected development, Oklahoma has followed suit with other states by contemplating a law that seeks to prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports on teams aligning with their gender identity.
Although both collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, the Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 2, also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” by a 73-19 vote last year.
The bill was not then brought to the Senate floor for a vote because it could not be introduced there before the end of the legislative session. It was finally introduced this year. But again, Senate Bill 2 passed by a wide 37-7 margin.
In March 2022, Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law that bars transgender girls and women from participating in gender-conforming sports teams in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary schools. The law takes effect immediately.
Being a transgender athlete is hard enough without having to deal with discrimination from the very people who are supposed to be supporting you.
For years, transgender athletes have been fighting for the right to compete in sporting events with a team corresponding to their gender identity. However, recent changes to the rules have made it so that they are now forbidden from doing so.
This is not only unfair, but it also puts transgender athletes at a distinct disadvantage. Not being able to compete with others who share your gender identity can be extremely isolating and discouraging.
In a world where transgender rights are already under attack, this is yet another way that transgender people are being marginalized and excluded.
“State legislators are deliberately misleading Oklahomans and ignoring science. Transgender girls are girls, and transgender children are children. They deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a press release. “Without a doubt, this discriminatory bill will harm transgender kids. It singles out children who are just trying to learn important skills of teamwork, sportsmanship, and competition in a healthy environment.”
He added: “The Oklahoma state legislature’s decision to advance SB 2 is nothing more than a political sham. [...] This discriminatory legislation will only invite the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation — including economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation.”
It is disheartening to see such a wide margin of support for such a harmful bill that will negatively affect the lives of many people. Elected officials should represent the interests of all of their constituents, not just those who support them. It is frustrating that elected officials can so easily ignore the concerns of those who will be most affected by this legislation.