MSHSL Mulling New Transgender Policy

Tom Olson, Sports Writer

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has considered forming a policy regarding transgender students who desire to participate in high school athletics. However, at the most recent board meeting, it was decided that a decision referring to the policy would be suspended until their meeting on Dec. 4.

What exactly does it mean if someone identifies as transgender? Those who are transgender identify with the opposite gender of their birth. These individuals often undergo some sort of therapy in order to change their gender. The policy that the MSHSL is currently debating would allow both boys and girls to play on sports teams of the opposite gender, provided that they can show that they’ve gone through medical treatment such as hormone therapy or surgery.

There has been a lot of controversy over the formulation of the policy on transgender students participating in high school athletics. On one side, supporters of the policy feel as though students should be able to express how they feel about themselves in all areas of their lives, including athletics. They feel as though doing so should include being able to play on the sports team of the gender that they identify with. A lot of support for the policy comes from a Minnesota LGBT group called OutFront Minnesota, who approves of the proactive steps taken by the MSHSL to allow transgender student-athletes to participate in athletics.

The other side feels as though transgender student-athletes could be violating the rights of other student-athletes that don’t identify as transgender. Opponents of the policy have often brought up situations that could be potentially uncomfortable if a transgender athlete was allowed to participate in a sport with members of the gender they identify with, such as using locker rooms or engaging in physical contact that may come naturally with the sport. Others have complained that transgender athletes may unfairly take positions on teams that would have otherwise gone to someone that doesn’t identify as transgender. Scholarships are on the line, some say, and high school sports – in their eyes – aren’t something that should be taken so lightly.

It may not seem as though it’s a big issue at the moment, but as more support is gained for the LGBT community, more people than ever before will become comfortable with identifying as transgender. In the future, it’s important that such a policy is set up, because this issue will only become more prevalent as time goes on.