By James Finn | DETROIT — Fischer Wells is a 12-year-old girl who just wanted to play field hockey…so badly that she signed up for a college team in Kentucky that didn’t even exist! Then she talked about it so much that enough girls signed up for the team to be real.
She had fun practicing and making good friends. She tells funny stories about her team figuring out how to play a new sport they’re not very good at.
“[Field hockey] was just this thing that nobody joined because everybody wanted to play volleyball or something,” she testified in February. “But then three people signed up, one of those people was me, and I tried my best to get the minimum number of people for the team, and we got it. And during our first game, I learned that I could not play.
As she was getting dressed, she learned that her school wouldn’t let her perform because she was transgender. Then her teammates and her coach fought for her, the headteachers changed their minds and she went out on the pitch having a blast, even though the team didn’t win much. Fischer is not, as her parents delicately put it, “especially good” at sports.
However, she is very good at making friends and expressing herself.
On Feb. 10, she testified at a Kentucky Senate committee hearing, and she blew people away with her sincerity and enthusiasm — as the only trans girl everywhere in Kentucky who plays sports at the college or high school level. Honestly, you can stop reading this article right now and listen to Fischer.
Her voice is the real deal.
Click on this link and watch the video at the top of the Mail-Journal article.
The state of Kentucky spent an entire legislative session banning Fischer, and only Fischer, from the sport
When she heard about a bill that would ban trans girls like her from playing sports at school, she feared that this school year would be her last playing field hockey and, sadly, her fears came true. She’ll be in Grade 8 next year, and she’ll have to watch games from the sidelines.
The Kentucky General Assembly passed the law that requires a student’s sex on their original birth certificate or “biological sex” to determine athletic eligibility. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed it, but last Wednesday lawmakers overruled his veto.
Fischer Wells is not part of the team, although her enthusiasm was behind its creation and expanding access to sports for girls in her school.
A solution in search of a problem
The Kentucky Republican Party has joined a Republican wave around the United States attacking trans kids like Fischer, even though — and it may surprise you — trans kids in school sports aren’t controversial in real life. It’s true, even in states like California that have long allowed or encouraged trans girls to play school sports, participation rates are low, and no college or high school trans athlete is dominating the leagues or making the leap. news.
Jonathan Lowe lives in Louisville and is the parent of two transgender children. He’s running for the Kentucky House of Representatives on a platform of kindness, and he says laws like the one banning Fischer are “quintessential examples of a solution in search of a problem.”
He points out that no epidemic of trans students dominating school sports exists anywhere in the United States, and that in Kentucky the “problem simply does not exist. Supporters have not been able to offer a single instance in Kentucky of a cisgender girl hurt by a transgender girl’s participation in school athletics.
So if Fischer is the only trans kid in Kentucky playing sports at school, then why all the fuss? Why the law? It’s the same question Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox asked last month when he vetoed a similar bill:
Four children and only one of them doing women’s sports. That’s what it’s about. Four kids who don’t dominate or win trophies or take scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to make friends and feel like they’re part of something. Four children trying to get by every day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed against so little.
Civil rights advocates want Fischer to know the fight isn’t over
Jackie McGranahan of the ACLU of Kentucky says the law banning seventh graders from sports violates the US Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Similar measures have been challenged in court in other states, and the Biden administration ordered the Department of Education to apply the Supreme Court’s Title IX “Bostock” standard to protect trans students from the discrimination.
No one knows how the court cases will play out, but it’s not over yet. There is a chance that Fischer will regain his place.
Women’s sports advocates call for REAL parity in school sports
McGranahan points to an irony in the Kentucky law, noting, “There are real issues with gender parity in sports. Promoting unfounded fears about trans athletes does nothing to address these issues. »
Fischer’s story is a perfect example.
She increased girls’ sports participation in a school where far more boys than girls play sports, in a school district where boys’ sports are funded far more than girls’ sports. Thanks to her, more girls in her school can play sports. Kentucky’s new law is not credited with giving more girls the opportunity to play sports.
Fischer’s school is not alone in denying equal access and funding to women’s sports. Kentucky is also not unique. In the United States, sports opportunities for girls remain unequal, according to the National Center for Women’s Rights, and Girls Miss High School Sports Despite Title IX, According to Alia Wong in Atlantic.
Kentucky lawmakers say they need to bar Fischer from sports to protect girl athletes, but if they really want to give girls more opportunities to play, they could fund sports leagues and school programs for girls. They could offer more opportunities.
Instead, they make noise, talk but don’t walk…because they use trans kids as political punching bags.
Fischer Wells wants you to know what school sports are all about
For her, it’s about making good friends, exercising, having fun, and getting into a good mental space. She really says all of this in her speech, quite passionately too. Do you doubt that 12-year-olds are lively? Listen.
Sports are good for children as long as they are part of a full life. This is theoretically why schools offer sports. Things can get skewed in the hyper-competitive world of high school football and basketball where high-stakes scholarships (essentially pro contracts for elite athletes) are at stake, but that’s another story. Last I heard, elite field hockey pros were rare birds.
Trans children should be entitled to all the benefits of school sports. What’s the point of benching kids like Fischer who have never done wrong? Why target a girl from Kentucky or a girl from Utah for a “problem” that isn’t even real?
Before you start objecting, think about this 12-year-old girl who had so much fun playing and making friends this year, and has to go away next year, for no reason who helps student athletes – cis, trans, or in between.
If you know people who insist that transgender girls be banned from sports, would you show them this story and help them understand what is really going on?
James Finn is a columnist for LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an unpublished “agent” novelist. Send questions, comments and story ideas to [email protected]
The previous article was previously published by Prism & Pen – Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished with permission.