Rep. Roger Hunt (R-25/Brandon) wants transgender students to drop trou and show their genitalia so officials may overrule the students’ gender identification with their apparent biological sex.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association doesn’t want to get into anyone’s pants. However, in their meeting tomorrow in Pierre, the SDHSAA Board of Directors will consider revisions to the transgender participation policy they adopted last year to expand the information gathered to establish the sincerity and consistency of a student athlete’s gender identification and expression.
The current policy requires that transgender students seeking approval to play on the gender teams that match their gender identity must submit a current transcript with declared gender, documentation from people who know them affirming their gender identification, documentation of accommodations already made by the school for their gender identification, and written verification of gender identification from a health care professional. The proposed revision drafted by SDHSAA legal counsel this summer adds the following to the documentation requirements:
- “A written statement from the student and the student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) affirming the consistent gender identity and expression to which the student self-relates”
- “Any other evidence as may be determined appropriate by the school or the SDHSAA office relative to the eligibility determination which may reflect upon whether the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity”
The existing participation policy already requires transgender students to jump through far more hoops to play basketball than other students. The first additional document requires students and their parents to write another document, albeit one that they could keep short to obey the letter of the rule: “Dear SDHSAA: We certify that our daughter Jane consistently identifies and expresses herself as female. Sincerely, signed, Parents and Jane.” The second revision doesn’t mandate more paperwork—a school that trusts and respects its transgender students can apparently choose not to determine any further information necessary—but the vague “any other evidence” does open the door for balky schools to delay applications and harass students with additional invasive demands. I’d tread carefully there.
The other major revision is the replacement of the Gender Identification Eligibility Committee with an Independent Hearing Officer. Right now, the GIEC, made up of a physician, a mental health professional, and an “advocate familiar with gender identity and expression issues” reviews and rules on transgender participation applications. The physician and mental health professional are to be familiar with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, which some legislators have alleged are overly advocative. SDHSAA decides not to fight that fight and drops the WPATH language, but it also takes decisions out of the hands of professionals familiar with transgender issues and hands them to one lawyer. If conservatives can’t stand five lawyers interpreting law, they should go ape over one lawyer deciding a child’s gender. It is possible that moving the decision from a committee to one Independent Hearing Officer will speed the process, but while the proposed revision strikes the fourteen-day deadline for GIEC decisions, it does not appear to impose a deadline on the IHO. Come on, SDHSAA: if a committee can decide in fourteen days, an individual should be able to decide in seven.
Of course, the SDHSAA is just talking about tweaking the bits and pieces of their transgender policy. Rep. Roger Hunt wants to see kids kibbles and bits, and his culture warriors will likely bombard the Board of Directors tomorrow with their calls to stop the scourge of kids trying to be themselves and play ball. SDHSAA, consider your revisions carefully, but stand your ground. Remember that you, SDHSAA, are working to provide all students with safe, healthy opportunities to participate in learning activities, while Roger Hunt, the Family Policy Council, and the other people shouting at you are the bullies blaming the victims and trying to get you to join in the bullying.