A Trans Volleyball Player Loses Her Scholarship After Being Outed By Anti-Trans Activist 

Source: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

Transgender individuals are facing serious attack in the United States, partially because of an increase in extreme conservative factions. LGBTQ+ issues are easy talking points for conservatives looking to rile up their base, and in the past few years, they’ve focused solely on transgender individuals as the lowest hanging fruit of gay rights issues.

Florida At The Heart Of The Discussion 

Florida has found itself at the heart of many of the conversations involving trans rights, mainly because of an extreme rhetoric on the part of the governor, Ron Desantis, combined with groups of deeply conservative people, such as Moms for Liberty.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

In the last month alone, Florida’s House of Representatives passed three different anti-trans bills, which have the potential to cause harm if they are signed into law. According to Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, the bills represent “an agenda of extreme censorship and government intrusion.” 

Some Harm Is Trivial 

Some of the harm towards individuals involves  microaggressions, such as deadnaming transgender individuals, or using the incorrect pronouns. These tactics create a divide between “us” and “them” when referring to trans individuals, while inflicting harm on the way.

Source: Unsplash/Katie Rainbow

More severe harm against trans individuals is underway. Lawmakers all over the country are working on passing, amendments, and bills that specifically target trans individuals, in ways that are both small and large. 

Redefining A Person’s “Biological Sex”

One particularly concerning bill is HB 1639, which aims to define a person’s “biological sex” based on genitals and presumed chromosomes. This would essentially put a stop to any state recognizing tansgender identities, and would also require all health insurance providers in the state to cover mental health services that treat gender dysphoria “by affirming the insured’s sex.”

Source: Unsplash/Karollyne Videira Hubert

That bill has been stuck in committee, and is expected to remain there indefinitely, but the consequences of that bill cannot be understated. 

Allies Are Also A Target 

Legislation that aims to harm those that support trangender individuals are just as bad as the ones that specifically target trans people. This can be seen in Missouri, where an extremely insidious bill was brought to the floor. This bill would criminalize the act of teacher’s supporting their student’s social transition.

Source: Unsplash/Meg

Educators that offer educational material to support students’ social gender transition could be faced with a felony charge, as well as a heavy fine.  

More Harmful Bills In Missouri 

Missouri is spearheading a wave of anti-trans legislation, having passed over 35 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state’s house over the current legislative session alone.

Source: Wikimedia/Johnmaxmena (talk)John Mena

Bills that have been passed in Missouri include one that allows doctors to discriminate against treating trans people, one that criminalizes gender-affirming care for all transgender individuals, not just minors, and one that inaccurately redefines “sex” in the Missouri Human Rights Act to completely write transgender, nonbinary, and intersex individuals out of the law.

Propagating Harmful And False Rhetoric

These bills have gained traction, partially because of the harmful rhetoric that surrounds these individuals. Conservative groups have employed propaganda labeling transgender and the LBGTQ+ community as “groomers,” essentially calling these people sexual predators that are targeting children.

Source: Unsplash/Thiago Rocha

Naturally there isn’t any data that actually suggests that trangender people target children more frequently than any other type predators. The language has been effective in creating moral outrage and fear among Americans, helping to push the agenda of these bills. 

Trans Moral Panic

The moral uproar aroundgay and trans people is just plain insidious, and it has dug its heels into every inch of American life and conversation. Even the sports arena isn’t safe from this conversation about trans individuals, bills have been passed in more than one state that target trans people in sports. 

Source: Wikimedia/Tony Webster

The bill focuses on the prevalence of transgender women in sports, playing women’s sports. Anti-trans activists have accused trans women of “taking over” women’s sports, and of creating less room for “biological” women when they have to compete against “biological males” for spots on a women’s team.

Fighting Against Anti-Trans Sports Legislation Campaigning 

The Utah state Legislation disregarded the veto of the bill and enacted the bill last year. Gay rights organizations and human rights groups have fought against the implementation of bills like this, but the far-right are upset and loud about their stance on trans rights.

Source: Wikimedia/Phil Roeder

The persistence of anti-trans individuals has even come from peers of transgenders themselves. This is a huge blow for trans people, as they often look to find support among their peers. 

Targeting Trans People in Sports

Legislation has been passed in many states that specifically targets trans people in sports, banning them from playing altogether or creating significant roadblocks such as genital examinations in order to play.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, even made the above point after the state legislature passed a bill disallowing transgender minors from playing sports. He vetoed the bill, stating that he didn’t want to ostracize and draw attention to the half-dozen transgender students that the bill targeted. 

Causing Tangible Harm Daily 

This volatile landscape can also cause actual harm in terms of everyday life. This can be seen in the most recent event in Washington state, where a trans student had their scholarship pulled from them because of anti-trans bullying on the part of former swimmer Riley Gaines.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

A transgender high school volleyball player recently posted about their scholarship offer to the University of Washington, she was initially offered multiple scholarships. 

Competitive Swimmer And Anti-Trans Activist, Riley Gaines

The challenges started for the student in December, when Riley Gaines, a well known anti-trans activist, found out about the scholarships being awarded, she ultimately outed the athlete in the court of public opinion.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Riley Gaines, who was a competitive swimmer, made headlines when she lost a major competitive medal to a trans athlete several years ago.

A Class-Action Lawsuit Against The NCAA

Gaines has made a name for herself since then, becoming an activist against trans rights. Most recently Gaines has even sued the NCAA in a class-action suit with other female athletes who claim that they have been harmed by transgender women in college sports.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The lawsuit will require that the NCAA suspend any titles that have been won by transgender women in the past, reassigning them to “biological women” who won those events; they will also have to not allow transgender women from competing in women’s sports in the future.  

Gaines Accused Of Being A Sore Loser 

Many have criticized Gaines for her actions, for being transphobic and a sore loser. Her work in anti-trans arenas only started after her tied competition against Lia Thomas.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

She has made claims that her “activism” is merely her speaking the obvious truth. She says, “A trans girl is still biologically male.” 

Targeting The Transgender Washington Student

The nationwide support for this has given Gaines fuel to attack the student in Washington in the way that she did, without any significant consequences.

Source: X/Riley_Gaines_

In her post on X, Gaines outed the UW scholarship holder. She wrote “Male takes women’s volleyball scholarship at @US…a soon-to-be Big 10 school. Stealing the already few opportunities for women at the collegiate level. How can he be proud? @UWVolleyball should rescind the scholarship if they really care about women. He can play with men.”

Basking In The Fruits of Her Labor

Three days later, Gaines came back to X and publicly celebrated the fact that lost her scholarship due to Gaines’ wildly transphobic rhetoric..

Source: X/Riley_Gaines_

The student’s ordeal did not end with her losing her scholarship. The student, who is still a minor, was the target of serious backlash that came from Gaines’ right-wing army of followers. 

Advocated Speak Out In Support Of The Student 

LGBTQ+ activists and other trans organizations have voiced their support for the student. Leaders of these programs have since released statements supporting the girl, and stating that Gaines attack on her was deeply unfair.

Source: Unsplash/Christian Lue

They have also noted that Gaines would not get any advantage from attacking this particular student. According to the organizations, she transitioned before puberty, negating any potential biological hormone advantage. 

Protecting Trans Needs To Be A Priority 

It Is extremely unfortunate what transpired with the student because of Riley Gaines’ hateful rhetoric, but it doesn’t seem like the anti-trans movement is slowing down any time soon.

Source: Unsplash/Michele Wales

Pro-trans activists have a rough road ahead of them. Bringing trans rights and protections into federal law would be a good first step when it comes to these systemic issues and inequalities. 

A Blip On Gaines’ Radar

The life changing event for the student is merely a little blip on Gaines’ radar in terms of her anti-trans activism. Proceeding the event, Gaines has continued on with her class-action lawsuit against the NCAA mentioned above, and has continued to verbally vomit false and bigoted information to her followers online.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

She earned favoritism among the far-right conservative movement, who have called on her to speak at various events and fundraisers in support of far-right politicians and organizations such as Moms for Liberty. 

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Athena Hallet

Written by Athena Hallet

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