Runners Support Transgender Youth
As road and trail runners, we’re alarmed by the current, crisis-level rise in anti-transgender bills making their way through state legislatures across the United States. Many of these bills deny transgender youth access to medically necessary, developmentally appropriate, potentially life-saving, gender-affirming healthcare; and to participation in running and other school sports. If passed, these bills will cause significant, if not devastating, harm to our youth, our families, and our communities.
Transgender youth are one of the most vulnerable demographics in the United States today. Many of the anti-transgender bills reinforce stereotyping, stigmatization, exclusion, and isolation of youth, contributing to a hostile social environment, especially at school, where youth can be denied access to sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms. These discriminatory bills also heighten risks to what transgender youth already disproportionately experience, namely, abuse, bullying, violence, alienation, depression, anxiety, body-image issues, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and behavior, and homelessness.
As runners, we know the power of sports in developing who we are and in facing life’s struggles, and thus the importance of opportunities for transgender youth to play on teams consistent with their gender identity alongside their peers. Sports are crucial as outlets, helping us manage and improve our mental health. Through them, we also connect with our bodies, find a sense of belonging, and challenge ourselves through healthy competition. We learn valuable life skills such as teamwork, goal setting, commitment, pushing ourselves, rest and recovery, how to deal with setbacks and failures, patience, self-confidence, and sportsmanship. Perhaps most importantly, sports are fun, and can be where we make some of our best friends. We acknowledge the stakes of competition-related concerns, and support ongoing scientific research in the field of sports performance.
As runners, we join medical, athletic, and legal communities in the United States united for LGBTQ+ equality, and against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. We call all runners to join the fight for equity and support transgender youth access to gender-affirming healthcare and participation in all levels of running and other sports.
If you live in a state that’s currently considering anti-transgender legislation, please contact your state legislators and communicate your strong opposition. If you live in the region of Runners for Public Lands, between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, please consider supporting the work of the Diversity Collective.
The Runners for Public Lands (RPL) Board of Directors
The Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC) Board of Directors