This Tuesday, Missouri Senate results show that the controversial transgender athlete bill is unlikely to pass in the House. The bill earned its controversy as a result of the long-winded debate regarding the morality of allowing transgender individuals to participate in the sport of the gender they identify as.

“I think it’s good – trans women being in womens’ sports – I wouldn’t put a woman in a man’s sport with a bunch of men. But it depends on weight – you wouldn’t put a woman in boxing who’s 5’2 with a man who’s 5’7. Especially if they’ve transitioned and gone through hormone therapy,” William Barret (’23) says regarding trans-identifying people participating in sports. In certain sports, differences in weight and height will differentiate who plays in what regardless of their sex at birth (i.e. different weight classes in wrestling.)

On Tuesday, the House debated an amendment sponsored by Republican Chuck Bayse that essentially forced transgender students to participate in the sport aligned with their sex at birth if they so chose to play a sport. For example, if an AFAB (assigned female at birth) student who identified as male wanted to play a sport, they would be forced to play on a female team. This amendment proposal was attached to an unrelated education bill that passed with a 100-51 vote.

The major controversy with allowing transgender people to participate in the sport that aligns with the gender of their choosing is the physical differences between the male and female bodies. Regardless of how someone may identify, their physical ability may put them at an unfair advantage or disadvantage in a certain sport. This changes with trans-identifying individuals who have gone through hormonal and surgical transitioning, but as it isn’t legal for minors to medically transition without parental consent in the state of Missouri, the argument still holds.

“Imagine a 6-foot tall man who identifies as a woman, in a women’s sport. It’s just kind of unfair,” Ethan Wood (’22) said about the matter.

Like many controversial issues, the debate has no real right or wrong answer. It’s highly dependent on the situation – what sport they’re participating in, how far they are into their transition, and several other factors need to be considered in order to determine the actual morality of the situation.

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, issued a “critical” warning Thursday after two transgender women were found dead in hotel rooms. Officials have characterized the deaths, which occurred less than two weeks apart, as homicides, which they warned could be connected.

Rob Tufano, a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said at a news conference that community members should remain “vigilant” while law enforcement seeks answers in the killings. 

Tufano said a transgender woman, whom he identified as a sex worker, had been found shot dead in a Charlotte hotel room early on Thursday morning. Tufano said police were aware of the woman’s identity but said he would refrain from revealing her name as her family had yet to be informed of her death.

 The homicide comes on the heels of Jaida Peterson’s death. Peterson, a Black transgender woman, was found shot dead in a different Charlotte-area hotel on April 4, police said.

Authorities identified Peterson, 29, as a sex worker, which her relatives and friends later confirmed to The Charlotte Observer.

Local Black transgender activists held a vigil in memory of Peterson last week. A reporter at the Observer said dozens of people attended the memorial, some of whom sobbed and screamed.

“My heart is breaking,” Peterson’s mother said of the loss.
 
Tufano said Thursday that police are investigating whether Peterson’s death is connected to the more recent attack.
 
The two deaths are “consistent enough” to have “gotten our attention, and it needs to get the attention of the community,” Tufano said, though he stressed it was still “premature” to link the two cases.

Tufano urged the public to contact law enforcement if they have any information about the women’s deaths and warned the community — particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those involved in sex work — to be on guard.

“There’s never been a more vulnerable time for them than tonight,” Tufano said of LGBTQ sex workers.

After Peterson’s death, the Human Rights Campaign said she was at least the 14th transgender or gender non-conforming person to have been violently killed in the U.S. since the beginning of the year. Most of the victims were Black transgender women

“This violence is alarming and unacceptable. Her life should never have been cut short,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said of Peterson in a statement. “We need everyone to speak up, affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter and take action now in order to end this violence. Jaida had family, friends and a community who cared about her and loved her, and our hearts go out to them.”

HRC noted that transgender women of color are disproportionately targeted by violence.

“We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality,” the organization said.

 

CHESTERTON - Over 200 people protested at Chesterton Middle School on Monday in support of the LGBTQ community.  The "Times" reports that's after Duneland school administrators directed three middle school teachers to take rainbow flags, and other affirming items, off of their walls.  The school corporation said there were complaints from parents and students that the items, “conflicted with their personal social and political beliefs.”

Other parents were upset that their kids feel unwelcome at the school and that teachers are not getting the support they need to support students who are just trying to find their way in life.

The protest was peaceful.  It started at Chesterton Park and ended at Chesterton Middle School where a school board meeting was taking place.  Originally administrators said they would only address the matter on the agenda, a $168 million done issue, but then they relented and allowed the protesters into the meeting to present their concerns.  
 
The Duneland School Corporation officials said in a statement that it promotes inclusion and diversity LGBTQ community, while striving to maintain a learning environment in which all students and staff are respected without promoting or advocating a particular point of view.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several bills that would prevent transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming therapies are making their way through state legislatures, including Tennessee’s.

CHOICES is a reproductive healthcare center in Memphis that prides itself on being inclusive and patient-centric.

Executive Director Jennifer Pepper said the center’s services include reproductive healthcare and resources for transgender youth and their families.

“Everybody has sexual reproductive healthcare needs, general healthcare needs, mental health care needs. Everybody deserves holistic care,” said Pepper.

Using that holistic approach, CHOICES’ services range from connecting transgender patients to mental health services to educating them about options like puberty blockers.

“Being able to take puberty blockers and put a pause on that transition in life, just gives folks some more time and space to really think about their gender, and how they want to present and how they want to live,” said Pepper.

Pepper added that puberty blockers are 100% reversible with no long-term effects.

But some lawmakers in Tennessee are looking to stop healthcare professionals from providing that care to patients.

HB 578 looks to make it punishable as a class A misdemeanor under a child abuse statute.

Under this same bill parents of transgender youth would need written statements from at least three physicians recommending gender-affirming therapies in order to receive such care.

Similarly, SB 126 bans healthcare providers from prescribing transgender minors hormone treatments.

These bills mirror dozens of others cropping up across the country, including one that was recently passed in Arkansas.

Supporters of the law say it protects children from making decisions they could regret later.

“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said Arkansas Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several bills that would prevent transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming therapies are making their way through state legislatures, including Tennessee’s.

CHOICES is a reproductive healthcare center in Memphis that prides itself on being inclusive and patient-centric.

Executive Director Jennifer Pepper said the center’s services include reproductive healthcare and resources for transgender youth and their families.

“Everybody has sexual reproductive healthcare needs, general healthcare needs, mental health care needs. Everybody deserves holistic care,” said Pepper.

Using that holistic approach, CHOICES’ services range from connecting transgender patients to mental health services to educating them about options like puberty blockers.

“Being able to take puberty blockers and put a pause on that transition in life, just gives folks some more time and space to really think about their gender, and how they want to present and how they want to live,” said Pepper.

Pepper added that puberty blockers are 100% reversible with no long-term effects.

But some lawmakers in Tennessee are looking to stop healthcare professionals from providing that care to patients.

HB 578 looks to make it punishable as a class A misdemeanor under a child abuse statute.

Under this same bill parents of transgender youth would need written statements from at least three physicians recommending gender-affirming therapies in order to receive such care.

Similarly, SB 126 bans healthcare providers from prescribing transgender minors hormone treatments.

These bills mirror dozens of others cropping up across the country, including one that was recently passed in Arkansas.

Supporters of the law say it protects children from making decisions they could regret later.

“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said Arkansas Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).

Transgender advocates said delaying care further isolates transgender youth and could have a deadly cost.

“It’s important for people to be able to make those decisions with experts and their parents not with politicians,” said Pepper.

For more information on Transgender resources, visit OUTMemphis here: https://www.outmemphis.org/resources/transgender-resources/

The Arkansas Legislature passed a sweeping law to prohibit doctors from treating transgender youth with hormone treatments, puberty blockers or surgery. And today the Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, surprised many people by vetoing the bill. Jacqueline Froelich from KUAF joins us from Fayetteville to talk about the reasons the governor gave for his decision and what happens next.

Welcome.

JACQUELINE FROELICH, BYLINE: Thank you, Ari, for having me.

SHAPIRO: So what did Governor Hutchinson say about his reason for the veto?

FROELICH: Governor Hutchinson says he's aware the nation is looking at Arkansas as the general assembly passes bills that are a product of what he calls a culture war in America. And if this bill becomes law, it will create new standards of legislation. So this is what he said when he vetoed the bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ASA HUTCHINSON: House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and health care experts.

SHAPIRO: And at what point did he decide to veto? I know he was under a lot of pressure. Can you tell us more about what led up to that?

FROELICH: I queried the governor last Tuesday about his plans for the bill. He said he needed to meet with trans Arkansans, activists, parents, as well as transgender-affirming medical providers before making a decision. And he did that. He has since learned that gender reassignment surgery - what conservative legislators here who support this measure characterize as genital mutilation - he has learned it is not performed on anyone under age 18 in Arkansas. He's learned that trans teens, with parental consent, are provided psychosocial medical support and hormone therapy to help them progress through their transition. He learned we only have a few hundred trans youth in the entire state of Arkansas that this law would affect. The governor has also received hundreds of thousands of communications from across the country asking him to veto the bill. And he says denying medical care to transgender youth will cause harm. And if enacted, the law will penalize medical providers and allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.

SHAPIRO: But the legislature could override the veto. How would that happen?

FROELICH: To veto, House Bill 1570 will require at least 51 members of the House and 18 members of the Senate to vote to sustain. We have a majority-Republican legislature, so the ban on gender-affirming medical care for youth is expected to be passed, made into law here. I spoke with Holly Dickson. She's director of the ACLU of Arkansas. She says she's grateful to the governor for his veto. But if enacted by the legislature, sustained by the legislature, it will be deadly for trans kids, she says. She says denying trans people health care because of who they are is wrong and illegal, and she's prepared to challenge the law in court. She says the entire country is watching Arkansas right now.

SHAPIRO: So if a simple majority can override the veto and it is expected to pass and then be challenged in court, where does that leave the state? And what are people in Arkansas saying about this right now?

FROELICH: I've interviewed young, trans activists who are feeling profoundly victimized by Arkansas lawmakers right now. They believe these anti-trans laws have placed targets on their backs. I spoke with the mom of a trans child who says she's going through a grieving process watching these various laws unfold in the general assembly. She says she and her family may have to move to be safe. I spoke with a family practitioner who treats trans kids, who says trans youth in Arkansas will become more at risk for suicide because of this law.

SHAPIRO: That is Jacqueline Froelich of member station KUAF in Fayetteville, Ark.

Thank you.

FROELICH: You're welcome, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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