Editor’s Note: This article in no way reflects the views and opinions of the Mississippi School of the Arts, nor is it endorsing political action from the school.
If you have not heard the news, Mississippi Governor, Tate Reeves, passed the Mississippi Fairness Act which states that students who are transgender, in particular trans males, are not allowed to participate in sports with the gender that they identify as in the hopes that cis-gender female students will have a fairer chance at competing (at least, this is how they attempt to justifying the bill being passed.)
As you can guess, this bill was met with extreme controversy. Many have labeled the bill as transphobic as it gives transgender students no way of expressing themselves in sports. While there are many who have defended the bill, it generally seems to be quite unpopular not just with transgender students, but a wide variety of people as well.
While I obviously have my opinions on the matter, I want to save them for later. I personally believe that not only would it be a disservice, but downright hypocritical of me if I did not get the opinions of students at this school who do identify as transgender or gender queer (after all, this bill will be affecting them the most, not me since I am a cis-male.) I decided to interview three students here who identify as trans/gender queer to see their perspectives.
For my first interview, I had the pleasure of talking to a junior visual to see what he had to say on the matter.
“So, as you know, Tate Reeves has passed the Mississippi Fairness Act, which is supposed to help women in sports by permitting trans-male students from participating in a sport with the gender they identify as. I want to know, what is your general thoughts and opinions on this?” I asked him
“I get what they think, they’re biologically male, but at the same time, women are stronger than men in a lot of ways and can beat men. It’s not like women can’t, so I don’t really see why transgender women can’t compete in the sports that they want to and compete with actual women because, all in all, they both train the same, so it shouldn’t really matter.” he states.
“Do you think that this is going to have a positive impact on schools or a negative impact; particularly with trans students?” I then asked.
“Well, transgender students always get picked on most of the time, so I feel like with the sports and everything we were never really allowed to do those sports anyways. That’s what mainly prohibited me from doing sports; but I think it will likely stay the same. Maybe the bullying or slander will probably get worse.” he replies.
“Finally, since you seem to not really agree with this act, what is something you think could be a better solution to this act instead of what we currently have?” I ask, finishing the interview
“Well, I’m not really one on politics or getting into this stuff, but I feel like if they just not have this rule and would let them compete as they want to. I feel like subjecting the trans people into their own group will make them feel like they’re not included in the gender they actually are apart of, be it male or female. I feel like if they take them out and not let them compete will cause dysphoria and major depression. People should just let them compete and see what happens.” he answered.
“So you think that this act should be repealed?”
“Yes. They haven’t even given them a shot to see what would happen” he says, finishing the interview.
For my second interview, I had the pleasure of talking to another junior visual, to see what their opinions on the act were.
“As you know, Tate Reeves has just passed the Mississippi Fairness Act. I want to know what your general thoughts on this act are.” I stated.
“I definitely feel like this is creating more transphobia in a sense. It seems like Tate Reeves almost fears trans people existing and doing day-to-day things, such as sports. I think that if you’re transgender and you want to participate in normal activities like that, there shouldn’t be any discrimination towards trans people at all. They’re people, you know. And it just sounds so dehumanizing to say that trans people are like a threat to normal people. That’s so disgusting and dehumanizing. Trans people deserve rights, and they deserve to live like how they wish to exist. They shouldn’t be seen as a threat because they’re not a threat. They’re just normal people” he states.
“Now, this act has been seen as heavily controversial across the country. A lot of other states that are particularly more progressive than us are looking down on us for this. Do you think that this is going to be detrimental to the state?” I ask.
“I think that it is detrimental as there are hundreds of trans people in the state. I hope that more progressive states can be able to help and pressure Mississippi into calling a repeal of the act.” he responds.
“Well, this actually leads into my next question. I was going to ask how you think we should go about this new act, but it seems that you want to call for a repeal of this act.” I stated.
“I think that this act shouldn’t have existed in the first place, as trans people are not threats. They’re people, you know. There’s these young trans people who are just trying to live normally and they’re just seeing us as threats. These people are just trying to exist and be comfortable with our bodies, and our governor is trying to find as many loopholes as he can to discriminate against them which is so upsetting. These people are just trying to be comfortable in their own bodies and live their lives normally, doing the things that they want to do.” he says.
For my final interview, I had the pleasure of talking to a final junior visual, to see how he views this act.
“So, as you know, our governor, Tate Reeves, has just passed the Mississippi Fairness Act. What are you’re overall thoughts on this?” I asked.
“Well, first off, I think it is really unfair. Especially since this is not something that they should be meddling with. Why’re they going to worry about something that isn’t going to bother them? I’ve heard people argue that people who are born as a male have bigger bone structure and muscle mass, but there are cis-women in sports teams who are also built like that, and just because they were born like that doesn’t mean they can’t participate in female sports.” he stated.
“So you would say that you’re very much not in favor for this act and that it is detrimental to trans students as a whole?” I asked him.
“Well, since you do not agree with act being passed, as a lot of other people are in the state, I was wondering how we should go about this?” I then asked him.
“I just think if they want to do female sports, just let them do it. Don’t put them in male sports just because it makes you uncomfortable for them to play in a sport with the gender they identify as,” he responds.
“How do you think this is going to affect the state of Mississippi as a whole? Is this going to really hurt the state of Mississippi and how other states view us, or do you think this isn’t going to affect much since Mississippi isn’t really known for being the most progressive when it comes to gender issues?” I ask them with my final question.
“I think it is a little bit of both. I think that everyone sees this state as very conservative when it comes to these issues; but I don’t want them to that this is okay as well, leading to more states following in the same way of thinking.” he states.
So it seems that, generally, most trans/gender queer students are heavily against this act. While I did interview three trans/gender queer students on the topic, a great majority of not only trans/gender queer students, but a great deal of citizens in this state are heavily against this act as well. To me, personally, I think that this act is blatantly transphobic. Not only does it not give trans/gender queer students a voice, but it is actively silencing them, giving them no voice to express themselves. In a Instagram post by Governor Tate Reeves, he states that President Biden left him with no choice but to sign this act (in reference to President Biden passing the Equality Act), but to me, this just seems like a lazy excuse. Do not let him fool you; this was HIS choice. He could have done anything to try and fix actual problems in the state, for example Mississippi being one of the last states in rank of education, health, and basic health care, but he instead choice to target actual children who want to participate in a sport with the gender they identify as. In a recent study by the HRC, it states that more than half of transgender male teens who participated in a survey reported attempting suicide in their lifetime and 29.9% of transgender female teens have attempted suicide; none of this includes transgender teenagers who did commit suicide. Trans students feel alone and unwelcomed, and now they can no longer play in high school sport with the gender they identify as. It is inhumane and beyond disgusting.
So, what can we do? The answer is simple. Make your voices heard. We as the youths of Mississippi can no longer sit back and accept the ignorant injustices that we are witnessing every day. We need to speak out, and be heard. Let your voices be known that you do not support this and will refuse to let anything like this from ever being passed again. We as the youths of this state are its future, therefore we need to not only make our voices heard, but DEMAND that something like this will never be passed again, otherwise we will live in a cycle of injustices and oppression. We need to actively support the transgender community and be a strong ally. We have the power to change this state, we just need to be the change this state needs, because it will not change on its own.
To contribute and make your voices heard, please email me: @firstname.lastname@example.org