Lawmakers: Legislation is hateful attempt to ignite culture war in Pa

Say proposed bill is disingenuous, harmful

HARRISBURG, APRIL 5 – Lawmakers in the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus responded Monday to a group of GOP representatives’ latest hateful attempt to fuel a culture war over the existence of transgender people and block their full participation in their own communities.

The Republican lawmakers had unveiled legislation to bar trans girls and women from playing sports.

“It’s really disappointing and troubling that women in the majority party of the State House of Representatives would take the time and energy to prioritize and amplify legislation that doesn’t actually address any real problem,” said state Sen. Katie Muth, D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery. “Unfortunately, there’s a nationwide effort driven by political organizations to use this waste of time and resources to fundraise and spread their harmful agenda.

“What’s further baffling is the claim that this legislation would advance or ensure fairness in women’s sports. I would advise the sponsors of this legislation to consider pulling this bill and instead introduce legislation that has substance and positive impact.

“The real unfairness in women’s and girls’ sports is rooted in systemic underfunding, fewer resources, unequal pay, unbalanced media coverage and sexual harassment. ‘Funny’ how those initiatives are not included in any capacity in their sham bill.”

“As a former women’s swim team member in high school, I care about protecting women’s sports and know that transgender girls in no way threaten them,” said Rep. Jessica Benham, who is the first out LGBTQ+ woman in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. “This bill is a complete invasion of young people’s privacy in response to a non-existent issue. It’s also likely an unconstitutional violation of transgender people’s rights.”

The House and Senate co-chairs of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus noted that the sponsors of the anti-trans legislation failed to mention a single Pennsylvania case in which a problem was caused by allowing transgender children and young adults to participate together.

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, said that blocking athletes from participating in sports runs counter to the values that children learn working on a team.

“All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That includes our trans student-athletes. The bill proposed is a hateful mix of bigotry and scaremongering masquerading as serious legislation. It has no place in our General Assembly or in our state,” he said.

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, said that representatives who truly are tapped into their youth sports communities know that teams and leagues have overwhelmingly welcomed trans athletes, accepted them for who they are, and quickly gotten to the business of training to improve skills and bonding to build relationships.

“Truly, nobody is asking for this. It was dreamed up in a laboratory of wedge issues, not on a soccer field or at a swim practice. This is about campaign fundraising, not girls or women or sports,” Frankel said.

“This discriminatory and hurtful legislation is a despicable ‘solution’ in search of a problem,” said state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and the first out-LGBTQ+ person in the General Assembly. “Not only are there no actual examples of a transgender woman’s competitive advantage in sports, but this bill also creates a pathway for open discrimination of transgender Pennsylvanians and sadly, transgender children. This fallacy being pushed by my republican colleagues is part of a long-coordinated attack on the LGBTQ+ community, and this time transgender kids are in the crosshairs.”

“Yet again Republican leaders are attacking kids – kids,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., “This political theater will not become law, but it sends a chilling message to trans kids and their families that the majority party continues to traffic in hate and unscientific bile. LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians and their families deserve better than this garbage.”

While the GOP paints transgender youth as threatening to other children, the reality is that they are one of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable groups of citizens, according to members of the caucus. Transgender youth are at a high risk of depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation – and those risks are magnified in children whose gender identity is not affirmed early on. Transgender people are also subject to discrimination, along with high rates of domestic and sexual violence and staggering amounts of hate crimes.

For the facts about transgender youth and sports, those interested can follow this link.