Recently, our articles have been all about trans youth and students. It’s important to us to dedicate an article to trans and gender diverse youth athletes. In 2021 and 2022, thirty-one states introduced bills targeting transgender student athletes. Sports participation has many benefits for youth, including helping to prevent obesity, lowering the risk of depression, and tobacco and substance use. Youth athletes also have higher self-esteem, stronger academics, and community supports. Sport can build resilience in youth who are a part of historically minoritized and oppressed populations.1
Thankfully, only twelve of those bills were signed into law. According to GLSEN, seventeen states have passed sport laws that discriminate against transgender student athletes.
That’s seventeen too many. But, these laws are being challenged in court. Everyone should be able to play, especially kids and youth.
As of May, 2022, 16 states plus Washington, D.C. had affirming policies in place for high school students.
Here are some of our favorite resources for transgender student athletes, their families, and their schools:
Education and Advocacy:
1. TransAthlete: transathlete is a resource for students, athletes, coaches, and administrators to find information about trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of play. This site pulls together existing information in one central location, and breaks down information into easy-to-reference areas to help you find what you need.
2. Athlete Ally: Athlete Ally believes that everyone should have equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports — regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Our mission is to end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sport and to activate the athletic community to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQI+ equality.
3. You Can Play Project: The You Can Play Project works to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and fans. We achieve this by creating a community of allies that is able to foster a true sense of belonging. This becomes possible when sports teams sharpen the focus on the person’s skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit, not their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by developing a culture of respect, in every player, coach and fan.
4. Campus Pride: Campus Pride serves LGBTQ and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support and give “voice and action” in building future LGBTQ and ally student leaders.
5. Return On Inclusion: Return On Inclusion™ (ROI) is a sport-specific diversity and inclusion education platform dedicated to developing inclusive leaders and fostering a culture of belonging across social and cultural differences. Our self-paced modules standardize learning methods, deepening our commitment to help every coach and athletic administrator develop the skills and competencies necessary to support student-athletes and achieve inclusive excellence in programs, policies and practices.
6. GLSEN: GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. Together we can transform our nation’s schools into the safe and affirming environment all youth deserve.
Advocate, Activist, and Ally Athletes
7. Schuyler Bailar: (he/him/his) 1st trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete (swimmer) @pinkmantaray on Insta
Schuyler is an outspoken advocate, drawing upon his experiences as a trans athlete in college. His work centers on trans inclusion, radical body acceptance, and mental health awareness. Read his essay, “The Inclusion of Transgender Athletes,” and follow him on Insta.
8. Chris Mosier: (he/him) Claim to fame: First known transgender athlete to represent the United States in international competition (duathlon and triathlon,) first transgender athlete in the ESPN Body Issue, and first transgender athlete sponsored by Nike. First transgender athlete to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the gender they identify. Founder of transathlete.com. Activist, mentor, and leader.
9. Outsports: community on SBNation focused on out athletes, coming out stories, and enjoying sport as athletes and fans. “
Outsports first published in November 1999 with a one-page recap of that Sunday’s NFL action. We had no idea whether anyone would read us, but somehow people started finding us and Outsports grew from there.
We’ve come a long way to where we are now, but our goal hasn’t changed — being an LGBTQ athlete or sports fan is not an oxymoron.”
Gettin’ Nerdy About Policy:
10. Center for American Progress’ white paper on sports participation for transgender youth.
Prepare yourself with talking points. Don’t want to read that much? Here’s their fact sheet.
- Shoshana K. Goldberg, “Fair Play: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth.” Center for American Progress, Feb 8, 2021. https://www.americanprogress.org/article/fair-play/