Advocate asks, “Which way forward are we going?”


JAMES RUSSELL  |  Contributing Writer

Following in the wake of a legislative session where transgender people became political punching bags comes another meeting in which a statewide governing body is taking its own shots at transgender students.

At their meeting next week in Round Rock, various committees comprising the University Interscholastic League, the statewide body overseeing high school sports and other extracurricular activities, are considering three proposals with consequences for transgender student athletes. Two would make it even more difficult for transgender student athletes to participate.

One proposal under consideration by the policy committee would bar any athlete from taking “performance-enhancing drugs,” which would rule out any transgender athlete taking any dosage of hormone replacement therapy.

“That just flies in the face of logic,” Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at Resource Center, said of the rule.

Another would allow any parent to complain to the legislative council about the eligibility of another student.

The issue could have an unintended consequence for transgender athletes.

“The real question the rule raises, however, is ‘who has the standing to raise the question about an athlete’s eligibility?’ A concerned parent, for instance, could question another team’s superstar athlete,” McDonnell said.

The athletics committee is considering at least one rule clarifying trans student athlete participation.

It would make UIL’s doping standards the same as the International Olympic Committee’s, which allow transgender athletes to compete. The IOC’s standards passed in early 2016.

According to the rule, female-to-male athletes will be able to participate in men’s competitions with no restriction. Male-to-female athletes, however, will need to prove their testosterone levels have been below a certain level for the past year to be allowed to compete.

The IOC’s recommendations follow the Transgender Law and Policy Institute guidelines for policies related to transgender youth athletes.

The guidelines note scientific data shows little to no difference in hormonal levels between the sexes.

McDonnell expressed concern the proposals may pass, despite some being in conflict with existing rules, because they are before two different committees. Each is made up of different people who may not be in touch with another about similar issues.

Any rule approved as part of the UIL’s long process would not go in effect until the following school year, in this case, the 2018-19 school year.

This past year a rule went into effect stating a student athlete’s gender is determined on a student’s birth certificate, not gender identity.

McDonnell has a solution that could have avoided some of these confusing rules: “What they could and should have done was get rid of that rule. But they didn’t. So we’re looking at two different scenarios at opposite ends of the spectrum,” McDonnell said.

“The question is which way forward are we going?”

This report includes material from the Dallas Voice archives.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 9, 2017.