As congressional Republicans prepare for the pre-midterm summer recess, they have been tasked with highlighting an issue of critical importance ahead of the November midterm elections: keeping transgender kids out of sports.

In the official “field guide” communications kit released to members of the conference by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republicans are encouraged to speak with “with female athletes in your community who have had to compete against biological males,” conversations that are emphasized as a major plank in helping the party win control of Congress.

“Republicans will put kids’ futures first and give parents a voice,” the field guide states, encouraging Republicans to promise that they will “ensure that only those born female can participate in girls’ school sports.”

The suggestion that members of Congress meet with school athletes to discuss the “unfairness of this disadvantage” by allowing transgender children to participate in group sports furthers what was seen as part of a winning strategy in recent off-year elections. That strategy has targeted parents frustrated with how public schools handled remote learning and masking during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as culture war issues over discussing sexuality in classroom settings and allowing transgender students to participate in team sports that comport with their gender identity.

Trans students have faced increasingly hostile—even violent—rhetoric as a result of these campaigns, which have resulted in the greatest number of anti-transgender laws ever enacted in a single year, with nine new measures limiting the rights of trans children passed in 2021 alone. Most of the measures seek to ban children from participating in sports leagues that do not comport with their “biological sex,” and often refer to transgender girls as “biological men.”

Last month, McCarthy joined other House Republicans in marking the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law banning discrimination in public school programs on the basis of sex, in a roundtable discussion about the “existential threat” posed to women’s sports by transgender participants.

“There are so many things that are unfair about this new system. It erases women’s sports. It attacks American values like fair competition,” McCarthy said, “and it creates a world where female athletes who speak out are actually bullied by their peers.”

In the field guide, McCarthy encourages members to use the summer recess to host similar events.

Despite the prominence of the issue in the Republican field guide, which puts banning transgender girls from sports on the same level of importance as expanding school choice, the number of transgender students who participated in high school sports in 2020 was less than three dozen. Of those, only two resulted in complaints of “unfairness” from teammates or opponents.



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