Wyoming legislators pioneering paths to protect our most vulnerable: our children

Wyoming legislators are channeling their inner pioneering spirit by passing one committee senate bill and introducing a second one, both of which are aimed at protecting our most vulnerable citizens: our children.

Last week, the Wyoming Senate Education Committee passed Senate File 133 and reintroduced Senate File 111 – I for one am thrilled to see our state legislators listen to its citizens and craft bills aimed at protecting kids from adult ideologies.

Senate File 133 (SF133), named Student eligibility in interscholastic sports, was introduced and sponsored by Senator Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston. Senate File 133 was co-sponsored by Senators Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester; Tim French, R-Powell; Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne; Stacy Jones, R-Rock Springs; Troy McKeown, R-Gillette; Tim Salaza, R-Riverton; and Cheri Steinmetz, R-Torrington. Representatives Lane Allred, R-Afton; Ryan Berger, R-Evanston; Barry Crago, R-Buffalo; Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland; Steve Harshman, R-Casper; Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne; Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan; Martha Lawley, R-Worland; Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton; Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody; Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale; Clarence Styvar, R-Cheyenne; and Tamara Trujilo, R-Cheyenne, also co-sponsored the bill.

This bill, aimed at restricting transgender athletes from competing on female school sports teams passed its committee 4 to 1: Senators Biteman, Steinmetz, Evie Brennan, R-Cheyenne and Charles Scott, R-Casper, voted in favor of sending the bill to an appropriations committee so it can be introduced to the Senate floor while Senator Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, voted nay to advancing the bill.

I was a high-performance student athlete from grade school through high school into college and attended college on academic and sports scholarships. I’m a three-time national champion and six-time state champion in track and field, cross-country, ice skating, women’s softball/baseball and various other titles for martial arts as well as in horseback riding, such as barrel racing – I know a thing or two about what it takes to be competitive in women’s sports. I shattered my trail knee during a meet over a hurdle after being spiked by an opponent (I finished the race, probably made the injury worse), I’ve thrown out my shoulder and have had several surgeries to repair it playing corners in softball/baseball, I’ve fractured my tailbone and knuckles attempting athletically difficult skills on the ice during competitions. I’ve had my fair share of fractured/broken bones, black eyes and other typical athletic injuries from the age of 5 when I began women’s competitive sports to when I hung up my skates, track shoes, riding boots and cleats for the last time in the years after I graduated college. I played on some coed baseball/softball teams as an adult. Now, I’m a mother and coach of three boys in competitive boys’ sports.

What I can say is, in one of my favorite events in track which had been (I’ve heard it’s changed) a coed event called the Steeplechase, the biological males I competed against always had a strong advantage over us females all through college no matter how much more I trained and prepared myself for the event. We can superficially, medically or surgically change an individual if that is truly their desire – but we can never undo nature or the gender an individual was biologically born as which means we can never overcome their innate advantages. I’ve read studies produced by top medical organizations in the nation and world regarding this topic, I’ve seen the tragic disenfranchisement of women losing to transgender women in professional sports and I’ve listened to the devastating de-transitioning stories – biological males do not belong on a woman’s team. Not then, not now, not ever.

I look at my accomplishments as a student athlete and I cannot fathom the idea of competing with biological men and I’m thankful I grew up in a time after Title IX cut its teeth to protect women’s sports. It saddens my heart beyond belief for girls in sports today because they might never know if they are competing with their peers or if someone, they are competing against, is a biological male.

I’m the generation that rejected photoshop, Victoria’s Secret and bad self-images. I’m the generation that propelled women’s sports into the new millennium. I’m the generation where girls became comfortable and confident with themselves and decided not to listen to society about who we are or what we should be or how far we can go. We burned our bras! We fought for our rights as women and athletes. However, today’s generation seems to want to strip us of everything we’ve fought for in the last roughly 50 years.

This bill further protects the sacred places for women athletes for today’s generation so that they have a space of their own to grow into themselves. It’s not at all transphobic or discriminatory to insist we have a chance at a fair competition because the truth is – we would be slaughtered if we competed in male sports, and we are being slaughtered when biologically born males compete in our sports. I have no issue competing in coed events, because I know that I’m competing against males and females – but in women’s sports it’s earth shattering to lose to a male – it absolutely should be those who were born biologically female only in women’s sports. I say this as a former competitive sports athlete and the mother, coach of competitive sports children.