Body politics: Sacramento bill considers fate of transgender athletes

May 10, 2013

Tennis Player Renee Richards

Tennis player Renee Richards on the tennis court, July 1977.; Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s AB 1266 would allow transgender students in public K-12 schools to use bathrooms and participate in team sports that correspond to their gender identity. California law currently prohibits discrimination in education, and the Ammiano bill would take protecting trans students one step further, as the first bill in the country to address issues of restroom use and school sports. Last week, AB 1266 cleared a state assembly  and is headed next to the California Senate. It’s an issue that professional sports leagues  have had to wrestle with.

In 1997, Renée Richards sued the United States Tennis Association, and won, in order to play as a woman in the US Open. And mixed martial artist Fallon Fox came out in March as transgender, again raising the question whether she has an unfair competitive advantage over other female fighters. Both the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have implemented regulations for transgender athletes.

Is it competitively fair to allow transgender athletes to participate in team sports based on their gender? What do parents think of their kids possibly sharing a locker room with a trans student?


Helen J. Carroll, leads the Sports Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights; former head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina-Asheville

Brad Daycus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties

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