As athletes, we know first-hand how formative athletic competition can be. In addition to the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities, learn skills and challenge ourselves, participation in sports creates important social connections especially during childhood and adolescence. On any sports team, whether in individual or team-based competition, the ability to thrive is dependent on the connections and support you offer your teammates. Any effort to exclude a group of people from participation in sports because of who they are will damage entire teams, leagues, and school sports histories.
Being an athlete allows us to push ourselves both physically and mentally. We often discover ourselves through our participation in athletic activities. And we know from this work that being in proximity with those who might be different than ourselves only makes us better and stronger. There is no competitive advantage gained by barring transgender people from competition, only the loss of our teammates, friends, and classmates. No one is harmed by allowing transgender people to compete consistent with who they are. None of us is the person documented on our birth certificate when it comes to our physical characteristics. We weigh more than those 8 pounds and have grown significant beyond those 20 inches. Indeed, some of us, too, have a gender that is not accurately listed on that first piece of identification.
What matters is who we are today when we enter the gym, the field, the court, the pool, the road, the track, and the stadium.
We hope that lawmakers in South Dakota can heed our message that inclusion is the key to successful educational, vocational, and athletic development. Please stop HB 1225.