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LGBTQ+ community grows concerned at new legislation

LGBTQ%2B+students+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+have+access+to+information%2C+resources+and+support+through+the+Pride+Center.%26%23160%3B
via Twitter @TAMU

LGBTQ+ students at Texas A&M have access to information, resources and support through the Pride Center. 

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since original publication to correct a misattribution. 

As more bills continue to be proposed regarding the LGBTQ+ community, supporters and opponents have commented. 
Nearly 240 bills have been filed across the United States in 2022 surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. Florida, Idaho and Texas are some of the states currently proposing bills which have been deemed anti-LGBTQ+. Bills such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, passed on March 8, prevents talk of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposed Senate Bill 1646 would consider gender-affirming care for transgender kids child abuse. Students at Texas A&M and members of the community have spoken out about what this type of legislation could mean for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Landon Sadler, co-president of the LGBTQ+ graduate group at A&M, said this bill silences children who do not feel safe at home.
“What we’re seeing is that there are adults who are benefiting politically from harming these children and encouraging them to take a step toward suicide,” Sadler said. “These policies make their lives really unlivable.”
Transcend is a student organization that advocates for transgender and non-binary individuals at A&M. Visualization junior Frey Miller, president of Transcend, said this bill is based on misinformation regarding what sexuality and sexual orientation is. 
“Heterosexuality could be considered a sexual orientation,” Miller said. “This is something that kids are exposed to constantly from the day they are born.”
Political science freshman Carson Wolf, member of Turning Point USA, said he believes the bill’s function is to give power back to parents over how their kids are educated on sexual subjects. 
“Strangers should have no place in educating children and exposing them to these sexual narratives,” Wolf said. “I don’t care if it’s heterosexual or homosexual; I don’t think either of them should be pushed on children. It’s wrong. It’s immoral and it’s sexualizing children.” 
However, Katrina Stewart, executive director of the Bryan-College Station Pride Community Center, said this is a public health issue and should not be discussed in the home alone. Parents have the right to teach their kids their values, but also the responsibility to teach and prepare them for reality. If parents aren’t doing this, then schools need to, Stewart said.  
“The critics say that there’s nothing in the bill saying ‘gay’ or anything like that — that’s precisely the point,” Stewart said. “You’re eliminating a group of people by saying that certain things cannot be said.”
Since Lia Thomas’ win in the Division 1 National Championship for women’s swim, controversy has resurfaced regarding transgender individuals in sports. Some argue Thomas’ testosterone levels give an unfair advantage and should disqualify the competitor, though Miller said he believes testosterone tests have less to do with biology and more to do with national politics.
“[There are] transgender women and also cisgender women who have higher testosterone levels just naturally and biologically,” Miller said. “A lot of biological studies have been done that have shown that testosterone levels actually do not give any sort of competitive advantage when it comes to sports.”
However, according to The New York Times, testosterone does provide a performance advantage in sports as it builds muscles and increases red blood cells.
Economics junior and campus outreach director for Young Americans For Freedom Rachel Sweeney said despite being required to take estrogen in order to compete, biological males who identify as women still have an advantage. 
“Men have stronger lung capacity, better muscle development, better bone structure,” Sweeney said. “I don’t believe the current mitigation efforts have been effective in decreasing those advantages.”
In response to the notion that men will now try to compete in women’s sports, Sadler said the transgender community has faced stigma and is extremely marginalized. 
“Maybe there’s one person in the U.S. who would do a cost-benefit analysis and be like, ‘No, this chance of a scholarship is worth that [stigma],’” Sadler said. “But I really, really doubt it.”
Legislation like TX SB 1646, Miller said, leads to a lack of options for the trans community and could drastically increase suicide rates. 
“Parents of trans children are working very hard to not only affirm their child, but to push back against the discrimination,” Miller said. 
However, proponents of the bill, like Wolf, say gender-affirming practices are celebrating sex in young people and encourage a perverted narrative. People shouldn’t indulge in these fantasies, Wolf said, as it causes further confusion. 
“That isn’t gender-affirming,” Wolf said. “That’s gender-lying. I don’t think it’s compassionate to lie to people. It’s borderline criminal.”  
The idea that talking about sexuality in schools could result in grooming young people stems from a history of cisgender men intiating the grooming, Miller said. While it is possible, it projects the historical actions of cisgender men onto the LGBTQ+ community, Miller said.
“The more vocabulary that you give a child to understand sexuality, the more of a platform that they have to defend themselves against sexual attacks and sexual predation,” Miller said.
Additionally, Stewart said transgender children have persistent feelings of being in the wrong body, and don’t randomly wake up one day and make this decision.
“These families that have children that are transitioning often have a psychologist,” Stewart said. “They have a team of medical professionals on board, they’re advising them every step of the way.”
Sweeney said she is a libertarian when it comes to allowing transgender people to live and act as the gender they identify as.
“Let [transwomen] live as a woman, let them wear dresses, let them grow their hair out, let them wear makeup,” Sweeney said. “It’s when you make unchangeable differences in children, that’s when I have an issue.”
Sweeney said 18 is the age people should make decisions about their body and their hormones and, by telling children they can make those decisions when they’re an adult, can help mitigate suicide and depression. 
“When they’re 18 … they are an adult that can make adult decisions,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think that’s something that they can consent to having done to them at a young age.”
Yet, Sadler said people should try to be empathetic toward the transgender community, particularly those who are young, by listening to their stories and believing what they are saying.
“Do we think trans children should be erased, or do we think their lives have value and we should protect them?” Sadler asked. “I think that’s the national question right now.”

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