Wins for Transgender Equality as the Maine Legislative Session Ends
July 20, 2021
Proposals targeting transgender girls and women for exclusion in sports and shelters were both defeated in the 2021 session
July 20, 2021 (AUGUSTA) – The Maine Senate adjourned for the session last night without taking up a proposal that would have banned transgender girls from participating in school sports (LD 926), thereby killing the measure. The House voted against the bill in June before the recess. A separate bill (LD 1238) that would have allowed shelters to turn away transgender women or any woman because of their race, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation was also voted down in both the House and Senate in June.
EqualityMaine, MaineTransNet, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), ACLU of Maine, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statements heralding the defeat of both measures:
Gia Drew, Program Director at EqualityMaine: “Once again Mainers have stood up for fairness by saying no to harmful proposals that would ban transgender girls from school sports and deny transgender women access to shelter and vital social services. As students, parents, coaches, and pediatricians testified, transgender girls who play sports simply want and deserve the same opportunity as their peers to be part of a team, to feel like they belong, and to develop important qualities like leadership, self-respect, and teamwork. The Maine legislature has sent a message to transgender kids that they belong.”
Quinn Gormley, Executive Director, MaineTransNet: “I’m proud to see our Maine legislators support inclusion for transgender girls and women. I know well from my own work in the community that transgender women experience some of the highest rates of housing insecurity, harassment, and violence among women in Maine. There is always more work our state can do to ensure our social service networks can fully support all women in times of need, but in defeating LD 1238 the legislature recognized that allowing shelters to turn away some of our most vulnerable community members is counter to that goal.”
Meagan Sway, Policy Director, ACLU of Maine: “It’s a relief to see the legislature stop these misguided bills targeting transgender girls and women. Efforts to ban trans girls from participating in girls’ sports jeopardize their mental health, physical well-being, and ability to access education opportunities similar to other students. Efforts to ban trans women from shelters would deny shelter to some of our most vulnerable community members when they need help the most. Today our state has once again affirmed the truth: all children and adults, including trans children and trans people, belong in Maine.”
Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD Civil Rights Project Director “We all care about equity and opportunity for girls, but banning transgender girls from all programs and activities from pre-k through college is only about exclusion. We are happy that the legislature saw the proposed sports ban as a red herring that would generate no new opportunities for cisgender girls but would inflict real harm on transgender young people. Maine has had transgender athletes participating in sports for years, including under a 2013 policy for interscholastic sports of the Maine Principals’ Association. Allowing young people to develop and grow as people through participating in sports is good for them and when they are stronger, our communities are, too.”
Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director, Maine Women’s Lobby: “With these votes, the legislature affirmed a simple fact: every Mainer deserves to live with safety and respect. For those who experience abuse or housing insecurity, community organizations help fill that gap. Organizations that exist to ensure that safety are exactly the right places to welcome and affirm trans Mainers, and there is no place for legislation in our state that does not guarantee the rights of everyone to live in dignity, free from abuse.”
Dee Kerry, Executive Director, The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “We applaud the state legislature for upholding the rights of transgender children to be able to play on teams according to the gender they live in. The vast majority of youth this bill would have harmed are school-age children who just want to play on a sports team and have fun. As pediatricians, we will always stand up for the health and well-being of all children and advocate for their right to live full and healthy lives. The trend of anti-transgender legislation being introduced and enacted across the nation is alarming and Maine legislators have shown that discrimination has no place in our state.”
At a public hearing on these bills on May 6, transgender youth and their families, nontransgender student athletes, coaches, pediatricians, school administrators, shelter service providers, social workers, community advocates, and more all provided powerful testimony against the proposed transgender student sports ban and exclusionary shelter bill:
Lane J., Kittery high school sophomore and soccer player: I absolutely love the sport of soccer. I have played on girls’ soccer teams for the last 5 years. Playing soccer has always been the highlight of my day each summer and fall: it’s my opportunity to work out, to collaborate with other girls with the same passion, and just have fun. I have been completely accepted by my coaches and teammates. Please don’t deny other transgender girls the opportunity to have these experiences, and the ability to be on a team, having fun, being active, and learning about sportsmanship.
Dr. Michele LaBotz, sports medicine doctor for over 20 years: The participation of transgender girls in girls’ athletic teams does not disadvantage their teammates. Athletic performance depends upon many factors including physiological, mental, and social. The best practice for student-athlete development is when success is based upon the growth of athletic skill of a team or individual, rather than attempts to eliminate rightful participants due to concern about the possible loss of performance advantage.
Gianna Romano, Assistant Coach and former high school athlete: [If transgender girls were banned from girls’ sports when I was playing] I may not have been able to play at all. At the time, our numbers were declining and we needed anyone and everyone willing to try the sport out. In a time where schools are being forced to combine teams and co-op for different sports, I am perplexed as to why we would even be considering a law that would make it even more challenging to attract participants.
Ali Lovejoy, VP of Social Work, Preble Street: To say that we must choose either the safety of cisgender women or the safety of transgender women is a false choice…The impact of this bill would be to systematically exclude women – women who experience higher rates of trauma, violence, and homelessness – from the most basic resources necessary to stay alive.
Andrea Mancuso, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence: We know from decades of experience that perpetuating discriminatory policies against any group of identity does not increase safety in shelter programs. Any disruptive behavior that might occur at a shelter can be dealt with under existing shelter policies that apply to all residents equally.
Equality Maine works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Maine through political action, community organizing, education, and collaboration. www.equalitymaine.org
MaineTransNet is Maine’s transgender community organization dedicated to supporting and empowering transgender people and those that love them. www.mainetrans.net
ACLU of Maine is the state’s guardian of liberty. It is active in the courts, the legislature, and the public sphere to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and to extend their promises to all Mainers. www.aclumaine.org
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.glad.org
The Maine Women’s Lobby engages in legislative advocacy which increases the health, wellness, safety, and economic security of women and girls in Maine, and all Mainers who experience gender-based discrimination or oppression. www.mainewomen.org