Mighty Blog

Children’s Minnesota experts share how anti-transgender legislation harms kids

Our experts speak out against a Minnesota bill that would ban transgender student athletes from competing

A recently introduced bill at the Minnesota state capitol bill seeks to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports. Minnesota is not the only state to have introduced similar legislation—in fact, some states have passed bills that would prevent transgender or gender non-conforming kids who want to play sports at school.

This bill, and the many others like it across the country, are not backed by science, explained Dr. Angela Goepferd, Medical Director of the Gender Health Program at Children’s Minnesota. In fact, there are very few transgender or gender non-conforming kids who choose to play sports in middle or high school.

teenage girl playing soccer outside

Dr. Goepferd and Dr. Chris Dunne, clinical lead of the Gender Health Program at Children’s Minnesota, joined other local experts in co-authoring an opinion piece for the Star Tribune on the topic: Anti-trans legislation is inhumane.

What is the impact of these bills?

Harms their self esteem

This bill could not only impact student athletes who are transgender or gender non-conforming, but all kids and teens who identify as transgender. According to Dr. Goepferd, transgender children tend to struggle with self-esteem more than their cis-gender peers, and sports are one way that kids can work toward overcoming self-esteem issues.

Inappropriate to enforce

This bill would be difficult to enforce. It’s not appropriate to examine kids’ bodies or chromosomes to determine if they can play a sport.

Singles kids out

Whether or not they play sports, this type of legislation can have a negative impact on kids because it singles out and “others” transgender and gender non-conforming kids. Excluding transgender youth hurts everyone, because it encourages gender policing, potentially leading to accusations of girls being “too masculine” or “unreasonably good” at their sport. Including trans athletes benefits everyone, as it promotes non-discrimination and inclusivity.

Hear community leader voices on Blue Cross’ The State We’re In podcast

In a special two-part episode of The State We’re In podcast by Blue Cross, Ani Koch, leader of Blue Cross’ Gender Care and Service initiative, sat down with Blue Cross’ Gender Services Consultant Alex Jackson Nelson, Ejay Jack of M Health Fairview, Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd of Children’s Minnesota, Nathalie Crowley of Family Tree Clinic and Ms. July 23rd, owner and founder of Goddess Electrolysis.

The podcast episode and blog highlight the work and voices of community leaders who are improving the health and well-being of the transgender and nonbinary community every day.

Dr. Goepferd shared her insights on how supporting trans kids can save lives

Supporting people who identify as transgender and nonbinary is critical. And this is especially true for children who are exploring their gender identity. Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd from Children’s Minnesota has been a leader and advocate in advancing equitable healthcare for all children:

“Transgender and gender-diverse kids experience significant amounts of harassment, with up to 80 percent of them being harassed in their schools. Close to 60 percent of transgender and gender-diverse kids are rejected by their parents, so they face barriers to being themselves at home, around the people who they love the most. And many of them struggle with suicidality. Trans and gender-diverse kids experience eight to nine times the suicidal thoughts as kids who are cisgender or not LGBTQ. So for these kids to have a place to talk that is safe, for them to have a place that will affirm them and support them in their identities, and for them to have access to medical care so they can live their lives as themselves, is critically important.”

Resources to support transgender and gender diverse kids

  • TransAthlete.com: TransAthlete helps students, athletes, coaches and administrators find information about trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of play. This site pulls together information into one, easy to read central location, and breaks down information into easy-to-reference areas to help you find what you need.
  • The Neighborhood: A virtual hub for LGBTQ+ families with a list of virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic for families and kids of all ages.
  • It Gets Better Project: Listen to stories of LGBTQ+ youth and find local resources.
  • Ten Percent Happier: A meditation website and app that provides a Coronavirus Sanity Guide for youth and parents.
  • Gender Spectrum: A resource for transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary youth and families with several online groups for youth and families.
  • TIGERRS: Social support group in MN for trans and gender expansive youth. Check out their Facebook page for virtual ways to connect.
  • Transforming Families: A Twin Cities based support group for families of transgender and gender-diverse youth. Monthly meetings will be held via Zoom.
  • Q Chat Space: A bully-free online community of LGBTQ+ teens that can chat with their peers and trained staff from LGBTQ+ centers around the country.
  • Walk-in Counseling: A Twin Cities based organization that provides free therapy, is now offering free phone or internet-based counseling state wide.

Crisis resources

  • Trevor Project: (866)-488-7386 or text START to 678678.
  • Trans Lifeline: (877)-565-8860.
  • MN Crisis text line: Text MN to 741741.

Children’s Minnesota Gender Health program

Children’s Minnesota Gender Health program is an exclusively pediatric, multidisciplinary gender health program, and includes pediatric gender health, endocrinology and gynecology physicians and social work. The Gender Health program provides compassionate and comprehensive care for transgender and gender-diverse youth. We’re dedicated to serving as an essential medical partner and resource for transgender youth and families along their journey. We are here to help, every step along the way.

Kaitlyn Kamleiter