Iowa State students worry the Iowa transgender athlete bill will expand to include queer athletes


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Emily Hatch, an Iowa State club lacrosse player, said she worries that the Iowa transgender athlete ban might expand into limiting the rights of queer athletes.

Nicole Hasek

Growing up, Emily Hatch, co-president of the Iowa State Lacrosse Club, had an unknown and unintentional advantage in sports: a hormone imbalance causing her to be more muscular than her other teammates and competitors. Even with this, she was still able to compete and was never seen as an unfair competitor.

Strong opinions have been shared since Iowa passed a law to ban transgender female athletes from competing on female sports teams. Some see this ban as a victory for female athletes and eliminating potential advantages and many see it as transphobic and excluding athletes based on hormonal differences.

“It’s disgusting. I’m from Texas, a state equally or arguably more transphobic than Iowa. Both states have been pushing these homophobic, transphobic laws and it’s hurtful, disgusting, and only harms children,” Hatch said. “I’ve played with and against trans athletes in lacrosse, and they were treated like any cis-gendered female athlete.”

According to CNN, this law states, “Only female students, based on their sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women, or girls.” Along with Iowa, several other states have enacted or considered similar bans, as shown on CBS.

“The point of sports is to have an advantage over someone,” Hatch said. “I’ve played with and against trans athletes transitioning either way and never once thought their transition was the cause of an unfair advantage. Athletes train to be better, to get an advantage in their favor; that’s the whole point.”

As stated in the Iowa High School Athletic Association Transgender Statement, students are unable to be discriminated against based on their gender identity in academics, extracurriculars, intramurals and occupational training. However, they are not protected against discrimination in competitive athletics.

Hatch said, “Unfairness in sports only exists when people choose to put others at a disadvantage in the hopes it guarantees them the win. Being trans doesn’t put you at that advantage.”

Hatch feels that people do not transition simply to win more games or be better athletes, but because it is what is best for them personally and they are only doing it for themselves.

This ban comes with a fear of further exclusion for many, such as the possibility of banning queer athletes or encouraging discrimination towards them. This fear is emphasized when this bill is added with other homophobic laws, such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.

“I do fear the ban of queer athletes. As a queer athlete, I struggle already with acceptance in my sport,” Hatch said. “Trans kids and queer kids need to be protected just like cis-gender kids. Take identity out of sports and focus on the love of the game. Is the kid happy? Is the kid a good sport? That’s all that matters.”