On soccer fields, in locker rooms, and even in their medical treatments, transgender youth have become the new target of American conservatives, through dozens of bills. “They try to dictate to me how to live my life”, denounces Dylan Brandt, 15 years old.
Before changing gender and choosing a male first name, this adolescent from Arkansas, a rural and very religious state in the southern United States, forced himself, for years and against his will, to appear “as feminine as possible”.
“I was unhappy,” Dylan told AFP, who decided at 13 to make his transition. After a year and a half of appointments with psychologists and doctors, he started taking testosterone treatment eight months ago.
Instant result: “I am much happier, I have a lot more confidence in myself. I made lots of new friends”, smiles the boy, blond with blue eyes, who related on video on TikTok his particular vocal change.
But due to a law passed on Tuesday, Dylan may soon no longer have access to his hormonal treatment. Arkansas became the first US state to prohibit minors from accessing medical transitions.
The defenders of this bill claim to want to “protect vulnerable children” from medical “experiments”.
– “Electoral argument” –
“In a conservative state like this, it is difficult to think that politics is not there for something”, judges the mother of Dylan, Joanna Brandt, who sees there rather electoral motivations.
“I think that for a very long time attacking gays and lesbians was a very effective electoral argument for politicians,” adds Jordan Ruud, head of a local LGBT advocate, the River Valley Equality Center.
With the legalization of marriage for all, “it has become less socially acceptable” and efforts have turned to transgender people, he notes.
Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who unsuccessfully opposed his state’s bill, said the text was the result of the “culture war” that is currently dividing America.
– Gym versus basketball –
In this battle, the Conservatives have made the subject of medical treatment, but also of sport, their weapons of choice: bills have been introduced in more than twenty states to ban transgender children and adolescents to compete in women’s school competitions.
Their reasoning: it is unfair to pit sportswomen against people who are likely to be taller, stronger and faster.
“What coach would want to take a girl on his team, if his record can be broken by someone who was born a man?” Donald Trump said during his first ex-president speech in February.
Not that easy. “At the elite level, the world championships, the Olympic competitions … transgender sportswomen do not win more” medals, sweeps Eric Vilain, expert with the International Olympic Committee.
“There are a lot of factors that go into the making of an athlete,” explains the professor of human genetics, AFP. “A transgender athlete who goes basketball will be taller on average so that might be an advantage, but in gymnastics she might be too tall.”
US President Joe Biden has taken a position on the subject, promulgating on the first day of his mandate a decree aimed at “preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation”.
Transgender activists also claim that it is discriminatory and extremely hurtful to deprive their athletes of sports events, and to interfere with their medical journey. An argument that has the support of many feminist associations but also sports stars, such as footballer Megan Rapinoe.
“They are just children, kind and courageous, who want to be left alone”, insists Joanna Brandt.
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