Anti-trans "Save Women's Sports Act" will further harm mental health
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams. Stitt signed the bill flanked by more than a dozen young female athletes, including his eighth-grade daughter Piper. (AP Photo/Sean Murphy) (AP)
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Oklahoma joined 12 other states in discriminating against trans women and girls in school sports. Governor Kevin Stitt signed the Save Women’s Sport Act, prohibiting trans women and girls from playing on the school sports team that aligns with their gender identity.

While surrounded by conservative lawmakers as well as his daughters, Governor Stitt gleefully signed the act in law on Wednesday. “The reality is, men are biologically different than women,” said Stitt as he signed. 

He continued, “We are protecting women’s sports. We’re ensuring a level playing field for female athletes who work hard to train hard, who are committed to their team, who have dreams to be No. 1 in their sport, who deserve a fair competition.”

Transgender youth already face high rates of harm

Detractors of the bill have been vocal, noting that the bill discriminates against an already-oppressed minority. The Oklahoma ACLU said the bill sends “a clear message to Oklahoma’s vulnerable transgender youth that they are not welcome or accepted in our state.”

Transgender youth are already at greater risk for suicide and self-harm, even without legislation that discriminates against them. Over 82% of transgender people have considered suicide, and 40% have made a suicide attempt.

Black transgender people are at increased risk. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with over 45 murders — most of them Black or Brown.

Additionally, Black and Latinx transgender youth have much higher rates of mental health challenges than their White, straight counterparts. Over 50% of Black and Latinx transgender youth experience depression and anxiety. 

“Save Women’s Sports Act” seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist in Oklahoma

Yet, Governor Stitt didn’t seem to consider the risk to transgender women athletes when he signed the bill. 

“How is it fair for female track athletes or swimmers who have been training since they were 12 to lose a high school competition to a biological male? It’s not. It’s simply not fair, and it will not happen in the state of Oklahoma,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to the Oklahoma ACLU, the anti-transgender bill may not even be legal.

“Ultimately, SB2 violates the United States Constitution and federal civil rights law, puts Oklahoma at risk of losing federal funding, and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that does not exist. Transgender students already live and go to school in our State, they play sports and enjoy time with their friends, and they deserve the chance to succeed and thrive like any other student.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...