Editorial Roundup: North Carolina

Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News and Observer. March 10, 2023.

Editorial: NC congresswoman helps launch hateful GOP legislative attack on trans people

What is one of the biggest issues facing our country today?

According to North Carolina congresswoman Virginia Foxx, it’s young transgender athletes.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce — chaired by Foxx — advanced a bill this week that bans transgender women and girls from competing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

The bill, titled the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act,” would amend Title IX to recognize sex “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” If a school receiving federal funding allows a transgender student to play for a female sports team, it would be considered a violation of Title IX.

“The following should never be a radical statement: Men are not women. Women are not men,” Foxx, who is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill, said at a committee hearing. “They certainly shouldn’t compete against each other in any publicly funded arena.”

That’s obviously troubling. Transgender kids deserve the same opportunities as their peers. They deserve to be included, to feel like they are part of something — especially when they aren’t hurting anyone.

But what’s even more troubling is the fact that Republicans like Foxx are targeting trans kids for political gain. Trans youth are already a tiny, vulnerable minority — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2019 that fewer than 2% of high school students identify as trans. In North Carolina, fewer than 10 transgender athletes have sought to play on sports teams that align with their gender identity, North Carolina Health News reported in 2021. That Foxx and other Republicans are spending so much time on something that happens so infrequently is evidence that this is about politics first.

Foxx, of course, told reporters that Republicans “are not targeting anyone.”

But they are. Saying that women and girls need to be “protected” — whether it’s on the field or off — suggests that transgender people are dangerous, or somehow a threat. It alienates them instead of making them feel like they belong. It relegates them to the margins of society.

And what is Foxx “protecting” people from, anyway? That they might finish second instead of first? That they might finish fifth instead of fourth? Does Foxx, a conservative who presumably thinks government should stay out of people’s lives, really want to spend her very valuable time on the ribbon that an athlete might not get?

Of course not. She wants to use legislation to rile her base. She wants to score her own points — the political kind — at the expense of the vulnerable. It’s detestable. Targeting trans kids is not only a cheap shot, it’s cowardly — and it’s shameful to see elected officials leading that charge.