Self Magazine recently published a series of articles about trans youth that cuts through the punditry and baseless speculation, and focuses instead on the people—the actual human beings affected by anti-trans legislation, and the actual facts of the realities they live with.
Spoiler alert: it's nowhere near as shocking as the popular conversations make it out to seem. In fact, it's…actually kind of mundane, in a refreshing way. Consider this piece on trans teen athletes by Frankie de la Cretaz, which focuses on the stories of five specific teenagers who literally just want to play sports, hang with friends, and ultimately feel better about themselves:
SELF talked to five young people whose stories are noteworthy not only because they offer a counter narrative to the fearmongering and misinformation, but also because they show that trans kids who play sports are simply kids who play sports. The teens who spoke to us shared how they fell in love with the game—with the thrill of competition, the camaraderie, the challenge of learning new skills, or any of the other many benefits playing sports provides.
Most importantly, these stories reflect what it actually looks like when trans youth are allowed to participate in the sports they love. They aren't breaking records or taking spots from cis kids; they might not even be the best player on their team. They just…go to practices, compete, and come home and do their school work. They win, they lose, they learn, they grow, just like all kids do.
There's Sivan, an 18-year-old soccer player from Massachusetts with a twin brother whose family and teammates have both been pretty supportive since he came out. What a concept! Rebekah, a 16-year-old from New Jersey who's been playing field hockey since she was 10, has had a similar experience; same goes with 17-year-old Amir from Maryland, who plays soccer. Things have going pretty well for Maddie, a 16-year-old softball player from North Carolina, too, although she has had to deal with a few more bureaucratic barriers — which may be getting worse, and could prevent her from participating in the future. Alex, a 14-year-old from Kansas, had no problem signing up for cross country after he came out, but things got more complicated when he tried to join the tennis team, even with the full support of his parents; new legislation could make that worse as well.
These are the realities faced by trans youth across the country. No fear-mongering or speculative scenarios about sex offenders or unfair competitions — just normal kids doing normal stuff.
The whole Self package offers a great range of stories, made better by the fact that it's largely written by queer and trans journalists, too. That alone makes it a refreshing media package. As Niko Stratis recently wrote in a particularly powerful piece for Paste, trans people are "always the topic, rarely the voice" —
I wonder when this will change—when the idea that someone being transphobic isn't treated as news, when we stop writing headlines about the casual transphobia of people who we never counted as allies to begin with. When will learning and gathering this knowledge change the lives of trans people for the better, and when will we stop putting transphobic news in the Pride section of a publication? There is nothing prideful here, it is just a shameful and hard reminder that there are many who see only as far as the value in clicks on the idea of a trans life—but there are few who see the same in the reality of our lives and our desires to see them improved.
What It Looks Like When Trans Kids Are Simply Allowed to Play Sports [Frankie de la Cretaz]
Always The Topic, Rarely The Voice [Niko Stratis]