Let Trans Kids Play

Alaska enacts trans sports ban…without the legislature

While multiple states across the US have used their legislative body to target trans rights, Alaska has turned to its sports regulatory body. A statewide ban on trans women participating in high school girls’ sports passed this week—in spite of the fact that only one school district had enacted trans-exclusionary policies beforehand.

In August, the Alaska Board of Education voted 7-0 to adopt a trans-exclusionary sports policy. As a result, the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) would have had to pass a similar ban or risk disrupting inter-school sporting events, many of which are sanctioned by the ASAA regulatory body.

On Monday, ASAA’s board of directors voted 5-3 to restrict participation in high school girls’ sports to students “assigned female at birth,” according to Alaska Public Radio. The new policy is effective immediately.

“We don’t want to see sports come to a scratching halt while this probably works its way through the court system,” ASAA executive director Billy Strickland explained.

Regarding the debate around safety concerns and fairness in sports, Strickland commented, “From a safety standpoint, we haven’t seen that yet. From a competitive standpoint, you could make the argument that, you know, the student displaced other kids off the podium.” This is seemingly based on a single anecdote, in which Strickland recalled only one instance he knew of where a trans student made it to the state championship track event and placed second.

Prior to the vote, only one school district, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a ban on trans athletes. The school district in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, is one of a few that have trans-inclusive sports policies on the books.

“ASAA should not be setting policy or interfering with local ordinances or local district policies,” Anchorage school board president Margo Bellamy wrote in a statement prior to the vote.

“This bylaw change will cause school districts to discriminate based on gender/sex and force districts to either comply with unreasonable and harmful requirements or seek alternatives for noncompliance.”

Republican Gov Mike Dunleavy has backed legislative attacks on trans rights, including a bathroom bill that would have required school administrators to out trans students to their parents. While such attempts have stalled in the state legislature, the governor-appointed Board of Education has apparently created a workaround.

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