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Despite recent legislative pushback, schools across the country are recognizing the important benefits of equal participation in sports for all young people, including transgender youth. Jay is a transgender man who competed in equestrian throughout high school and college, including through his transition during college. Below, he describes his experience navigating his transition and team, excerpted from an interview he participated in with the author of this report. I came out to my equestrian team first. I sent out an to the entire team, including the coaches, coming out to them.

I knew they were going to be supportive because I walked into the barn the next day and my name had already been crossed out on the board and corrected with the name that I had sent them in the literally 12 hours prior.

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I know a lot of other trans athletes have to give up the sport that they love when they start to transition because organizations have a lot of regulations in terms of trans athletes competing on non-coed teams. My new coach referred to me as one of her boys. In recent years, opponents of LGBTQ equality have zeroed in on the participation of transgender youth in sports as part of their assault on the equal rights of transgender people. Transgender student-athletes are driven to play sports for the same reasons as all athletes, yet in many states, they are denied the opportunity to do so or can do so only after overcoming numerous invasive and stigmatizing hurdles.

These transphobic laws and policies deny transgender athletes access to the numerous well-being, educational, and social benefits sports can confer, while ignoring the reality that transgender women and girls are women and girls, and transgender men and boys are men and boys. Transgender athletes have been competing openly for decades, with multiple state high school athletic associations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAAthe International Olympic Committee IOCand several professional and amateur sports leagues allowing transgender athletes to participate in accordance with their gender identity as early as Yet while cisgender athletes remain unharmed when transgender athletes participate, policies known as transgender sports bans—which ban transgender students from participating and competing on sports teams in accordance with their gender identity, or make it difficult for them to do so—can do substantial harm to the mental health, well-being, and lives of transgender youth, athletes and nonathletes alike.

Across multiple surveys, age groups, and settings, three consistent, troubling trends emerge: 1 Transgender youth and young adults are more likely than their cisgender Women want sex Fair Play to report worse mental health, including substantially higher risk of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts; 2 Transgender youth and young adults are substantially more likely than their cisgender peers to experience bullying, victimization, harassment, violence, and rejection from peers, against a backdrop of discriminatory policies such as transgender sports bans that serve to legitimize and foster hostile climates; and 3 Where transgender youth encounter accepting and affirming policies and peers, including transgender-affirming sports policies, their risk of poor mental health and suicidality decreases—and where these supports are lacking, risk is substantially higher.

In spite of the risks transgender sports bans pose, in alone, 20 states introduced bills to regulate or outright ban transgender athletes from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling on the federal government to fully implement the U. As presented throughout this report, the latest research on transgender inclusion in sports illustrates that inclusive policies provide ificant benefits for transgender young people—and have no proven effect on competitive equity.

The benefits—physiological, social, and emotional—of participating in school sports teams and athletics are wide-ranging.

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In addition to physiological benefits such as lower rates of obesity, 3 research has found that high school and college student-athletes may be at lower risk for anxiety and depression, 4 suicide attempts, 5 and tobacco and illegal drug use. Sports participation can also help increase opportunity for vulnerable school-age youth.

For those who have experienced adverse childhood events—including poverty, disruption in family structure or family deaths, or learning or behavioral problems—sports participation can be a source of resilience and empowerment, protecting against short- and long-term negative impacts to mental health and well-being. These types of benefits are particularly crucial for transgender youth, who are at increased risk for family and peer rejection, victimization, stigma, and discrimination—so have more to gain through their participation in sports.

In the U. Transgender Survey USTS of more than 40, transgender adults ages 18 and above, more than 77 percent of those who were out or perceived as transgender while in grades K reported negative experiences at school, such as verbal or physical harassment, physical or sexual assault, or being prevented from dressing in accordance with their gender identity; almost one-fifth of respondents said they had to leave school because of such mistreatment.

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For example, among the USTS sample, more than half 54 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed, one-quarter 24 percent reported being physically attacked, and 13 percent reported being sexually assaulted as a result of others perceiving them as transgender, with rates of all three substantially higher among American Indian, multiracial, and Middle Eastern transgender people. Department of Education from March through May revealed that the Department of Education has been failing to uphold the rights of transgender students.

Furthermore, complaints from LGBTQ students were more than nine times less likely to result in corrective action under the Trump administration from January through May than under the Obama administration from May through December School-based harassment, victimization, and rejection can have life-threatening consequences for transgender youth.

An analysis of data aggregated from the 15 states with publicly available data that assessed gender identity in the and Youth Risk Behavior State and Local Survey YRBS16 a representative study of individuals in grades 9 through 12, showed that almost 44 percent of transgender youth, versus 16 percent of cisgender youth, reported considering suicide in the year. According to the same survey, almost 3 in 10 These rates are ificantly lower for white transgender and cisgender youth More disturbingly, among transgender students, those who had been bullied were 2.

Similar increases in risk for suicidal Women want sex Fair Play, suicide attempts, and depressive symptoms were seen for those who had skipped school due to safety concerns or who had been threatened on campus. Lack of access to affirming spaces and a community that supports transgender youth by affirming their gender identity, name, and pronoun has also specifically been tied to increased suicidality and decreased mental well-being among transgender youth.

Given the well-documented benefits of sports—and disproportionate mental health struggles among transgender youth—transgender sports bans can have disastrous consequences, particularly as they continue to perpetuate and legitimize rejection of gender identity.

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While inclusion in sports is not a cure-all for the deep-seated discrimination against transgender youth, their exclusion from such activities can potentially put their lives at risk. Though limits on available data make it difficult to estimate the exact of transgender athletes, across available datasets, transgender youth and young adults are consistently found to participate in sports at ificantly lower rates than their cisgender peers—including cisgender LGBQ peers.

While there Women want sex Fair Play numerous reasons why transgender youth and young adults are less likely to participate in sports, access is one prominent barrier. The International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to participate in the Olympic Games since22 and several professional and recreational leagues, including USA Gymnastics, U.

Department of Education and the U. Department of Justice; 26 this aligned with a growing of federal courts holding that Title IX prohibited gender identity discrimination. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos confirmed that Title IX complaints filed by transgender students regarding access to sex-segregated facilities were no longer being investigated. The U. Clayton County, Georgiaheld that under Title VII—a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in employment—discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination and therefore prohibited.

In fact, several courts have already applied that reasoning in cases involving Title IX claims. In addition to Title IX, transgender sports participation policy is governed by inconsistent regulations and laws that vary throughout the United States. Currently, 10 states have no state guidance on transgender sports participation. Currently, 16 states plus Washington, D. In supporting access to athletics based on gender identity, almost 42 percent of transgender high school-age youth nationwide—representing approximately 62, transgender students among more than 6.

In 14 states, home to Women want sex Fair Play than 4. Those outdated and unscientific stereotypes are at the heart of the state athletic guidance held by six states—home to an estimated 24, transgender youth—that have the most extreme, and most explicit, transgender-exclusive sports guidance. Such policies not only set arbitrary guidance around physical characteristics that ignore inherent variability in the bodies of athletes of the same sex, but they also further force transgender athletes to choose between playing a sport and living, and competing, authentically as their gender, as well as create hostile climates that contribute to the negative mental health outcomes detailed earlier in this report.

The of states with a legislated transgender sports ban is at risk of growing in the upcoming year: Duringstate legislatures in 20 different states introduced bills to ban transgender high school students from participating in sports. Meanwhile, in the first month of alone, 11 states introduced bills similar to—or more extreme than—the bill implemented in Idaho. The first state to do so was Tennessee, despite no existing Tennessee policy allowing transgender students to participate in athletics.

As measured in the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the percentage of high school girls nationwide playing on at least one sports team has remained statistically unchanged since —as has the percentage of high school boys.

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Similar trends emerge within individual states. Inmore than half Meanwhile, participation among boys increased by less than 2 percent in the same period.

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Similarly, in Connecticut, where transgender sports inclusion has been allowed sincesports participation among high school girls increased slightly by 2. Though the has fallen since then, the of female outdoor track and field athletes in the — season—the most recent year for which data are available—remained higher than that prior to the implementation of the trans-inclusive policy.

In Washington state—the first state to allow transgender athletes to compete in accordance with their gender identity, in —only three transgender athletes had competed in sports as ofnone of whom had won a championship. The only U. Together, the fact remains that even when transgender athletes are included, it is the variability of athletic ability—not transgender status—among students that le to success. Supporting women and girls in sports means expanding opportunities to play, not restricting which women and girls get to play.

Nationwide, school budget cuts have reduced the of high school sport opportunities for girls, with schools with majority-female enrollment far more likely than schools with majority-male or gender-balanced enrollment to cut or altogether drop school sports programs. While legislators may be concerned about the impact of transgender participation in sports, evidence further highlights that many cisgender athletes are supportive of trans-inclusive athletic policies.

While trans-inclusive policies have no negative impact for cisgender athletes, trans-exclusive bans harm transgender youth and young adults. As detailed above, transgender youth are already less likely to play sports than their cisgender peers. Fears and safety concerns around using gender-segregated athletic and athletic-adjacent facilities—such as locker rooms and bathrooms, as well as physical education classes—further complicates every aspect of the school athletic experience for transgender and nonbinary youth.

Such findings highlight the reality that many transgender students attend schools in unsafe or unwelcoming environments, which necessitates policies and programs to reduce transphobia, increase acceptance, and subsequently improve mental health and well-being among transgender youth. Instead, unfriendly and noninclusive policies—including policies such as transgender sports bans—perpetuate exclusion, further increasing the risk for adverse mental health. Among schools with any transgender-inclusive policy, only 42 percent specifically enumerated protections that allowed transgender students to participate in sports in accordance with their gender identity.

Further, those who had experienced discriminatory policies reported ificantly lower self-esteem and sense of school belonging than those who had not experienced discriminatory policies, as well as ificantly higher rates of depression and school absenteeism. When transgender youth play sports—and, more importantly, are accepted as teammates and competitors while doing so—they are able to access the same benefits afforded to all athletes.

research has found that inclusive school policies, such as anti-bullying policies that specifically enumerate protections for LGBTQ youth, have been associated with lower risk of suicide attempts and higher levels of school belonging and feeling safe at school among sexual and gender-minority youth.

Among — YRBS respondents, transgender students in states with fully inclusive polices Among college students surveyed in the National College Health Assessment III during the fall and spring semester, 74 approximately Relative to Women want sex Fair Play transgender peers who did not participate in sports, transgender athletes reported ificantly higher levels of psychological well-being and flourishing see Figure 8and were ificantly less likely to meet the threshold for severe psychological distress, to have suicidal thoughts or to have self-harmed in the prior year, or to screen positive for suicidal behavior.

In addition, transgender college athletes reported ificantly better Women want sex Fair Play climates than transgender college students who did not participate in sports.

Women want sex Fair Play

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