Ben Goldberger headshot

Tennessee has legislation that actively and openly discriminates against a group of people and nobody seems to care.

Back in March of this year, Governor Lee signed a bill that banned transgender athletes from playing in high school girls’ sports.

According to AP news, the bill says, “student athletes would be required to prove that their sex matches that listed on the student’s ‘original’ birth certificate in order to participate in public school sports in middle and high schools.”

In order to play sports with their peers, students have to prove that they have matching genitals with their teammates and that they have always had those genitals since birth.

Not only is this an insane obstruction of personal privacy, but it also is one more thing telling transgender kids their being is not okay, which adds onto a society that already tells them that everyday. By telling students who already have gone through such discrimination from their peers, teachers and probably some family members that they are not eligible to play with their peers of the same gender because of their genitals — which they did not choose — Tennessee officials are practically letting transgender kids know they think of them as alien objects that don’t deserve the same rights as “normal” cisgender kids.

Along with this, the bill actively breaks several laws passed by the federal government, such as Title IX, various rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals and an executive order signed by President Biden that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in schools (AP News). For a state that has a long history of discrimination against other groups of people because of a physical characteristic, this is unfortunately in line with how Tennessee legislation has been in the past.

The message this sends to its transgender youth is that the state does not care about you and your wellbeing, and you would be better off living in another state that doesn’t see you as a foreign species that can’t be mixed with our kids.

This bill also revolves around the idea of male superiority and that men are inherently better than women at sports. The justification that legislators use for this bill is that it would be creating a more equal playing environment for the cisgender girls because the transgender girls would still have the male build and therefore would naturally dominate in every sport.

This is a giant “screw you” to womankind because they are pushing a rhetoric that women are inferior to men in athletics. After all the work that has been done to support girls in sports, this bill is a giant step back into misogynistic tendencies that we seemingly haven’t moved past yet.

Further, Governor Lee passed a law in May of this year that bans doctors from providing hormone treatment to prepubescent youth (PBS). A purposely vague determinator for what age you are allowed to provide hormone treatment to kids, this bill was created in order to limit the accessibility of resources to those who wish to transition to their correct gender.

Not only is Tennessee discriminating against current transgender students, but they are actively trying to stop them from actually existing in the first place.

These anti-transgender bills are actively worsening the lives of transgender kids in Tennessee, causing them to desert their state in hopes of moving to one that values them as human beings.

In an interview with AP News, Colin Goodbred, a 22-year-old transgender man who grew up in Nashville, explains how these bills are pushing him away from Tennessee.

“I think that these sorts of bills are part of what is pushing me away from identifying Tennessee as my own state, even though I spent the vast majority of my childhood, I grew up, in Tennessee,” Goodbred said.

“I don’t feel like I want to return there. I’m already going to college out of state. I’m wanting to work out of state. And they’ve made it abundantly clear that they do not want trans people in the state.”

People should be proud of where they come from, but the bills that the Tennessee government have passed recently make it almost impossible for transgender youth to embrace their home state. It should also make it difficult for all Tennesseans to be proud of their state because the laws being passing directly and openly discriminate against their neighbors. As UT students especially, we should be disgusted by the laws that have been passed because it goes against every value that the university holds.

The state is passing legislation that makes others feel subhuman, and everyone should be enraged.

Ben Goldberger is a junior at UT this year studying anthropology and political science. He can be reached at bgoldbe3@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content