Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.


  • Republican governors in South Dakota and Louisiana vetoed such bans, and several states have voted down or failed to act on proposed legislation.

"It’s absolutely sickening," Chelsea Wolfe, an alternate to the Tokyo Games and the first transgender woman to travel to the Olympics for Team USA, told Axios. "It just breaks my heart and I can’t imagine what kind of monsters do that to children."

  • Such bans may score easy political points, but come at a huge cost to the health and well-being of trans youth, these athletes say.
  • "This has become the next political weapon," openly trans and nonbinary WNBA player Layshia Clarendon told Axios.
  • Clarendon noted that many of the states discussing such bans have no current transgender athletes even participating, and in no instance are states seeing girls' sports dominated by transgender athletes.

Between the lines: Athletes say the bans also miss the point of youth sports, which isn't about the small fraction of kids who go on to play competitive in college or turn pro, but rather the benefits they confer to all those participating.

  • Clarendon said even if they had not become a professional athlete, sports gave them a place to belong.
  • "You are supposed to just play sports and have fun," Clarendon said.

The other side: Some supporters of the bans insist they're needed to promote fair competition, arguing that biological differences make it unfair for non-transgender women and girls to compete against transgender athletes who were identified as boys at birth.

  • "This bill is very simply about making sure that women can safely compete, have opportunities and physically be able to excel in a sport that they trained for, prepared for and work for," said Florida state Sen. Kelli Stargel, a supporter of the ban DeSantis signed into law, per NPR.

What they're saying: Chris Mosier, a distance runner who was the first transgender member of Team USA when he represented the country in duathlon (running and cycling), told Axios that "it is heartbreaking for me as an athlete who has represented my country internationally in sport to see that a younger version of me would be banned from playing."

  • "This is about so much more than sports; it’s about health care and identification cards and housing and employment and our abilities to live safe and happy lives. Lawmakers are starting with sports, but it seems very clear that the end goal is to try to prevent transgender people from living in public."

Wolfe notes that opponents of transgender civil rights focus on youth sports because they know that while elite sports are grappling with the issue, they are relying on experts and research.

  • "So they go after the legislatures who kind of go off their knee-jerk reactions instead of science," Wolfe said.

Of note: This year's Olympics includes at least four openly trans or nonbinary athletes, a first for the Games even though rules have allowed for transgender participation since 2003.

  • Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, is set to become the first openly transgender woman to take part in Olympic competition when she takes part in the over-87-kilogram competition later on Monday.

Go deeper:

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories