Numerous conservative groups are concerned about a bill (AB 1266) advancing in the California legislature that would recognize transgender young people’s identities in school, allowing them to use the facilities and play on the sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. Focus on the Family’s resident ex-gay Jeff Johnston lashed out at the bill, claiming that trans identities only exist in a “fantasy reality”:
The reality is that humans are born male or female. At birth we don’t “assign” sex to a child arbitrarily, as the analysis of this bill implies. We recognize the child’s sex — it is a physical reality. But in the world of this bill, that reality doesn’t matter. Like Cinderella in a fantasy world, a person may choose or change his sex, saying, “I can be whatever I want to be.”
But trans identities have nothing to do with who a person “wants to be”; it’s about who a person is. And sometimes, people’s mental understanding of their gender identity does not match the sex of the body they were born into. Denying the reality of their lived experience only serves to shame and stigmatize them, but won’t change their core identity.
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, an anti-LGBT hate group, argues that the “idea of socially constructed gender is very radical” and “not safe for the kids,” but there is no evidence to support his aspersions. In fact, the American Psychological Association recommends the passage of nondiscrimination protections like this California bill and any effort to recognize and affirm transgender people. It is that affirmation that best serves their mental well-being, not condemnation and erasure like these conservative groups propose.
Other more conservative states have already implemented similar protections for transgender athletes. Nebraska, for example, quietly implemented such a policy last December, though so far no student has taken advantage of it.