TRANSCRIPT: Translash Podcast Episode 71 ‘Trans Athletes and Title IX’

Imara Jones: [music] Hey fam, it’s me, Imara Jones. Welcome to the TransLash podcast, a show where we tell trans stories to save trans lives.

I just wanted to let you all know at the top of this particular episode that we have won the GLAAD Outstanding Podcaster Award, for 2023! It came as a surprise to everyone on our team, but we are nonetheless grateful and gratified and it would not have happened without the ongoing grassroots support and listenership of you all. As an independent media outlet, we really depend on that. And so keep listening, keep spreading the word and thanks to you all for supporting us and to GLAAD, for the recognition. Now, to the heart of this episode, the Biden Administration recently announced a proposed change to Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex-based, discrimination and educational programs, that receive federal funding. In response to the wave of anti-trans sports fans sweeping the country right now, the education department’s possible change of the Title IX would make these kinds of categorical bands supposedly illegal. But some, and in full transparency, including me, have pointed out that the policy leaves open the potential for discrimination by outlining how discrimination could be consistent with the rule on a case-by-case basis.

That’s why today, we’ll be speaking with the leaders of two national LGBTQ organizations to unpack, the pros and cons of this new rule and how it would potentially help or hurt our community. First, I’ll speak with the executive director, of the transgender legal defense and education fund, Andy Marra.

Andy Marra: We know that this is not the final destination with this particular rule. This is going to require additional work by our movement to ensure that, again, that the proposed rule is good, as it is, is made even stronger.

Imara: Then, I’m joined by the executive director of GLSEN, Melanie Willingham Jaggers.

Melanie Jaggers: When we exclude, or allow for the exclusion or, or discrimination against any particular subset of people, including trans and non-binary folks. What we’re doing is cutting them out of that community of care or cutting them out of the learning process, and we’re cutting them out of, functionally, our democracy and our democratic vision for the future.

Imara: But before we get to that conversation, let’s start out, especially on this topic, as always, with some trans joy [music]. With so much debate happening around the rights of trans kids to compete in schools, it’s easy to forget about the mini trans athletes who are proudly competing across the country and the world. Nest Murby is one of those people. He’s a world ranked blind Paralympian, and co-founder of the Justice Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Consulting platform, TOUGHERthan. He made history in 2020, after coming out publicly as a transman, making him the first openly trans Paralympian. Nest remembers when he walked out onto the field for his first competition in the men’s division, just last year.

Nest Murby: It’s a sunburned plane of, like partially burnt grass dust. It was so quiet, you know, you could look for, for miles and not see a building and I walk out into the fields as myself. In the men’s category, being announced amongst these other male competitors. And that, that moment is everything. It’s not about this stadium, it’s not about the crowd, the people. The affirming peace was just so within myself, each step I took towards the cage, was me, and these are the things that I think are often not talked about. The joy of being able to show up as one’s authentic [background music] self. It’s not about the winning because I’ve already won. I’m here, I’m Nest, I’m trans and I just wanna do my sport.

Imara: Nest Murby, you are trans joy [music]. I’m so glad to be joined today by Andy Marra. She’s the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund or TLDEF, for short and he’s been working at the forefront of national LGBTQ advocacy for many years. Before joining TLDEF, she led communications at the Arcus Foundation, managed public relations at GLSEN, and served as a senior media strategist at GLAAD. She also served on the boards of Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality, among many others. After so many years of tireless advocacy, it’s no surprise that Andy has been honored with many prestigious awards. These include the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, the Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award and the National LGBTQ Taskforce Creating Change Award. She’s also been recognized by the city of New York and the white house, for her contributions to the LGBTQ community. Andy, thank you so much for joining me.

Andy: Thank you for having me back.

Imara: I’m wondering if you can just, before we turn to the issue of uh, Title IX, just to give everyone, uh, encapsulation of TLDEF, and why you believe that the work of TLDEF is important.

Andy: The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund was founded in 2003 at a really critical time in the trans movement, there were very few national, let alone, local and trans organizations, specifically pushing and advancing for trans equity. And TLDEF has, since its founding, worked to create a world and a reality in which trans people not only are legally protected from discrimination, but more importantly, have the

opportunity to thrive. And in this moment that we’re in now, with all of the attacks against trans people, from coast to coast and everywhere in between, that work is needed now more than ever.

Imara: So, within that context, of course, of creating a world where we can survive and thrive and, against the backdrop of all of these attacks on our community. Of course, the Biden Administration has come out with a rule about equal access to sports, what we commonly refer to as Title IX, which guarantees the ability to participate in sports equally, regardless of gender. And as a top line, it, you know, says that it creates a pathway for there to be, um, equal participation in sports by trans people, by banning categorical exclusions. But I’m wondering if you can tell us what your take on Title IX is and why you think what the administration has done is important.

Andy: Title IX is an incredibly important mechanism that has existed in our movement and has been used by our movement, to make sure that LGBTQ+ people are protected from sex-based discrimination. And that also includes trans, non-binary and intersex students. The proposed rule which came out in early April, essentially, makes it even more clear that anti-trans discrimination in school-based sports, and athletics, is illegal under federal law. And the proposed rule, if it’s going to be enacted by the Department of Education, would make it clear that it is almost close to impossible for a state or a school district or a college, to have blanket bans preventing trans students from participating in sports, based on their gender identity. It’s a really big deal, and here’s why. Under current federal law, there’s been no specific language that has addressed the protection of trans youth in athletics, and the making sure that our young people are not only seen, but also protected from discrimination, especially at this moment where there are hundreds of anti-trans bills being introduced and debated in state legislatures across the country.

I think we’ve almost hit or have hit the 500 mark and, you know, the last time [chuckle] I was on your podcast, there was, I think a record-breaking number of about 300. We’ve seen an increase in uptick in that number. As it stands right now, there are 20 states that have passed bans for trans people to be prohibited from participating in school sports. And if this proposed rule is enacted by the Department of Education, those blanket bans or categorical bans would be unlawful under Title IX. It’s a really good rule and there’s always room for opportunity. And I say that because as it stands, in the language of the proposed rule now, trans students would be able to participate in sports and in instances where school districts or colleges would be seeking to limit or outright prohibit trans students from participating in sports. The burden is on them to demonstrate that they are not committing discrimination against a trans person and we know that, based off of the current languages we have read[?] at TLDEF, there are still some instances where we think the language could even be further strengthened.

Imara: So one of the areas of controversy and the proposed rule, and it is a proposed rule, it’s not a set rule. People can send in public comment, making their voice heard, is the fact that it does say, as we have spoken about, that you cannot discriminate against trans people. But then later in the rule, it does say, that if you choose to deviate from that standard, all the ways in which you have to meet, um, certain criteria that would have to then be reviewed and stand up in court and be tested in court, if you don’t. And one of the issues in doing it in that way, that has come up, is that there are many people who say that what that does, is that it actually provides a pathway for how to get around the rule. And I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that.

Andy: Yes. So let’s actually get into the nuts and bolts of the proposed rule. So as it stands, the proposed rule could permit some forms of discrimination against trans students in sports under certain circumstances. But, that discrimination or that limiting of a trans student from, um, participating in a school sport, must be, as the rule is written, quote-unquote, “be substantially related to an important educational objective and also must minimize harm to students.” So, what does that mean? So, in the original text of the proposed rule, it’s written somewhat vaguely, but it makes it clear that the important educational objective has to be tied to a legitimate concern. So meaning, is this the matter of fairness or a matter of safety? And the proposed rule makes it clear, a p-, school or college can’t limit or prohibit trans students from participating in sports because they’re anti-trans. You know, on paper, the certainly could create some room for what we would call pretextual bans.

The proposed rule also makes it very clear that, you know, a lot of the anti-trans policy efforts that are currently underway, would not be allowed under this rule, including the idea that, you know, for instance, trans women have an inherent athletic advantage over sis women. We know that’s not true. Under the, the current proposed rule, that would not passed the sniff test. Lastly, I would add that preamble is pretty clear that there are very few or no important educational objectives that would justify discrimination, particularly against younger trans students. And when I say younger trans students, I’m talking about, um, students in grades K through eight. You know, school sports, particularly in primary school, or elementary school and middle school, they’re really designed, not for the competitive nature. But sports for K through eight are really designed to promote team building, to improve confidence and character development and all of the good things that we would wanna see come out of school sports.

Imara: You know, I think that all of those are important. I think, though, that part of the concern is that there’s the way things sound when they’re being read at a conference room or at a press gathering in Washington, versus what’s actually happening in the country. We know that school boards and individual schools have become battlegrounds for these issues, especially around school sports. And that what can easily happen is that a hostile school board could declare someone in high school or a program in high school that accepts trans people, that it’s not consistent with educational objectives. They could just make that declaration. They could say that they could meet those criteria, implement those rules and then what has to happen, is that on the back end, there has to be approving an attesting of that. And in the meanwhile, there’s actual individual harm. And so, you know, I think that that’s part of the concern, is that there’s something that certain things that sound okay in Washington, but when you are actually looking at what’s happening in schools and school districts, and the way that these attacks are actually unfolding, that having that as a criteria and the way in which its specified, creates a vulnerability.

Andy: Let’s talk a little bit about what’s playing out in the states across the country. We’ve seen again, a record-breaking number of anti-trans bans, especially as it relates to young people, young trans people participating in sports. And, you know, to remind listeners, that one Title IX, in the equal protection clause in the constitution, already prohibits sex-based discrimination. And that includes discrimination against trans, non-binary and intersex students. You know, back in 2020, when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bostock, it made that very clear. Now that, that was in the title seven context, but the same reasoning or rationale applies, and if this rule is enacted, it will provide even more specific guidance on how to interpret Title IX as it pertains to sex-based discrimination. And because there’s already case law, that demonstrates the Title IX and the equal protection clause already prohibits, sex-based discrimination, at TLDEF we would feel pretty confident that these lawsuits are going to hold and uphold the protections of trans students, from being able to participate in school sports.

Imara: You know, when I speak to parents who are on the ground, about how they’re interpreting this rule and how they’re seeing this proposed rule being interpreted in cities and states that are hostile to them, what they say is that, you know, the people that wrote it just don’t get it. It will hyperdrive the emphasis on saying that, you know, it’s in congruent with educational objectives and allow for a whole host of things that shouldn’t take place to take place and then they’ll have to be litigated. And I think that a part of their concern as well, is that you expressed important confidence about presidents, but we know that in federal districts, like the fifth district, which includes Texas. And the 11th district, which includes Florida and Georgia, that there’s been, you know, a very strong propensity to ignore president. And I’m wondering what you have to say to people who are literally on the ground, parents who saw this rule, who read it, who have kids in high school, who were in, you know, hostile areas of the country. And they say that there’s, again, just this gap between what people think they’re doing and the way it’s going to unfold in these states.

Andy: So, I wanna remind listeners that this is a proposed rule. TLDEF, and a host of other organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, Athlete Ally, and the like. We are encouraging all of our community members to be submitting comments, um, not only in support of the rule, but also encouraging folks to provide feedback on how the rule can be further. strengthened. And for our organization, we are absolutely submitting a comment that not only affirms the rule, but also provides additional clarifying language that can minimize the harm or harm that we think exists in the proposed rule. For us at our organization, we, we want an ironclad rule that prevents any type of discrimination against our young people and we are encouraging folks across the country and in our movement and in our community to, to submit comments that, again, demonstrate, not only the need for this kind of rule, but also how the rule can be further strengthened.

What I think is really important to note, is that the administration, um, specifically the Biden Administration has put forth a host of advancements, policy advancements, to protect our community. And this isn’t, this isn’t the only effort the administration has invested in. They have. the administration has previously announced a number of changes and a number of advancements to remove barriers for trans individuals, um, changing their names, and their gender markers on federal documentation. And we know that this is not the final destination, with this particular rule. This is going to require additional work by our movement, to ensure that, again, that the proposed rule, as good as it is, is made even stronger and making sure that our opposition does not water it down, um, further by anti-trans litigation.

Imara: What would you, personally, propose be strengthened in the rule? What’s your own sort of personal feelings about where it needs to be short at?

Andy: The rule, as it stands, does have some vague pieces where it doesn’t entirely specify or make it Ironclad, that trans young people are protected. And for TLDEF, the work that we do, specifically the work that we are doing in response to the proposed rule, as well as some of the litigation that we have selected to support, is underpinned by the idea that anyone who is trans should be able to participate in a school sport or athletics program, regardless of their gender identity, period, full stop. And while we commend the administration for their effort to put forward a strong rule that protects trans students, we think the administration can go a little further. Which is why we are submitting [background music] extensive comment on how to strengthen the proposed rule.

Imara: Well, I think that everyone joins you in wanting this rule to be as strong as possible, in order to protect kids and to make sure that everyone has the future that you wanted when you were younger and that’s so many want. And hope that that can be brought about by closing off some of the vulnerabilities that people on the ground have, have pointed out as, as real possible concerns for their ability to protect their own kids. Thank you so much for coming on Andy, I really appreciate it.

Andy: Thank you, Imara.

Imara: That was Andy Marra, who is executive director of TLDEF. [music] I’m pleased today, to be joined by the executive director of GLSEN, Melanie Willingham Jaggers. Sitting at the helm of GLSEN, Melanie has been a tireless advocate for LGBTQ students across the country. Their vision for a safe and affirming K through 12 education system, is rooted in years of experience, in social movement, organizing and curriculum design. Melanie has dedicated themselves to racial gender and disability justice throughout their career. Before joining GLSEN in 2019, they served as the program associate director of the Worker Institute, at Cornell University’s School of industrial and Labor Relations. They also spent four years as the board chair of the Audre Lorde project in New York City. Melanie, thank you so much for joining me.

Melanie: Thanks for having me.

Imara: I, in full disclosure, I should also tell everyone listing that I am also on the board of GLSEN. So, this isn’t the only time we talk [laughter]. I, it’s not the only time we’re talking. So, as a person who is black and non-binary, leading one of the major LGBTQ organizations right now, and with a career in education yourself. I’m wondering if you can talk about why you think, both, from a personal perspective, as well as your career experience, why creating safe schools for LGBTQ students, especially trans students, including those who are non-binary and gender non-conforming is so important.

Melanie: I’ll start off using the widest frame. Education is the cornerstone of democracy, right? If we are to have an inclusive, multiracial democracy, that’s big enough and wide enough to fit, all of us in it, the primary step there is a robust education system where everyone who’s gonna participate in that democracy has the opportunity to learn, understand the world around them, be connected to those around them and enter into the world and our democracy, ready to participate in a, in a way that is grounded in truth and with a vision that includes everyone in that society. That’s the broadest frame of like, why education?

Now, we can go more granular. Why education that includes young people who come from historically marginalized communities? Well, because those communities are part of our society and we wanna make sure that everyone is included in that big broad vision of multiracial democracy. Why trans and non-binary young people, in particular? Well, because when we push out any young person, particularly those who are trans and non-binary and other parts of the LGBTQ+ community, we have to attend to the fact that we are pushing those folks out of relationship, right? And the one system in our society that is meant to support and care for them. Young people must be educated, must be regarded with respect. Must be seen by their educators, by administrators, by their classmates, as whole people, worthy of respect and inclusion. They have to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. They have to be connected and kept safe in, um, in school environments. And so when we exclude or allow for the exclusion or discrimination against any particular subset of people, including trans and non-binary folks. What we’re doing is, cutting them out of that community of care or cutting them out of the learning process, and we’re cutting them out of, functionally, our democracy and our democratic vision for the future.

Imara: I mean, it’s also the case that we know that when kids don’t have safe schools, especially those who are trans that, that has, not only lifelong, psychological impacts, potentially, but also very real negative consequences on people’s life chances. With regards to access to jobs and education and healthcare. Like, schools, not being safe has a real impact on people’s life chances.

Melanie: Yeah, and absolutely. I mean, here’s the other thing, right? So, at GLSEN, we’ve been doing research since the late 90s on what it’s like for LGBTQ+ young people in K, through 12 schools in this country. The only other, kind of, data that exists on youth’s[?] experiences, really at that age and, and has existed for so long is the CDC’s youth risk, behavior study. So if you wanna know how kids are doing in schools, you come to GLSEN data to find that information. Now, there are lots of folks, now they’re doing different and wider surveys in the LGBTQ+ youth and that’s super great. Trevor’s doing a great survey. I know that in NCTE, is doing great surveys. If you’re looking for information about kids in schools, queer kids in schools, you, people come to, the field comes to GLSEN for that information. The YRBS out of the Center for Disease Control, tells us that when young people don’t have support, they engage in risky behavior, that becomes more dangerous, because of that lack of support, right?

The thing about Youth Development, which has been, uh, a core, kind of, thread in my career, since I was a young person myself, is that youth to development, when it happens right, what young people are able to do, is be in a safe and affirming environment. Be in relationship with other folks who are around their age, experiment, test things out, try stuff. When things go bad or when things don’t end up like they want them to, or as they expect, it’s really important to have a supportive adult, right? Someone who knows a little bit better, who’s a little bit older, who cares about this young person and who’s gonna help keep them safe. And when we push young people, particularly trans, non-binary and other LGBTQ+ kids out of school, in the same way as when we push out black or indigenous, or other folks of color from school. These children, when we push them out of these supportive environments, they become available for both risky behavior, and more risky behavior, and unsupportive settings, and are more exposed to folks who are not engaged in, right? Deeply invested in their care and safety and support. They’re not connected to caring, adults. And that’s the real danger, right? That the real danger is about pushing young people out of supportive environments, where they have adults who care about them, who will regard them with respect and who will help keep them safe.

Imara: So with that as backdrop, I’m curious as to what you’re read is, on Title IX, from the administration, because signaling the ability to be able to participate equally in everything in school, is a really powerful signal to schools, in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not. And the fact that many people are interpreting what the administration has done as being hostile to that idea, inadvertently. But still, is one that’s coming up. So I’m just wondering if you can talk a little bit about what your take on it is.

Melanie: Yeah, sure thing. Let me start at the broadest level, again, right? Which is like, what is Title IX? At its core, Title IX is the civil rights law, that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education. At its heart, it provides protection in any educational setting that receives federal money, right? We often think about Title IX, as related to access to, and funding for sports, right? Girls sports versus boys sports. We often think about it as protection against sexual harassment and assault. And we often think about it also, as support for pregnant and parenting folks in school settings. So, Title IX is a critical civil rights protection for queer, trans non-binary and intersex people because we know that discrimination against those folks, against queer, trans, non-binary and intersex folks. The discrimination that they face, is gender discrimination, based on assumptions, prejudices, assertions about someone’s gender, or presentation or behavior, according to sex stereotypes, right? That’s what all of this is about.

And so, you know, in the Title IX comment, in the proposed rule, uh, coming out of the Department of Education, there are two things that happen. One, a lot of ground is covered. The stuff that’s good in that rule, that, the good stuff has been included because of GLSEN and NCTE and many other organizations’ hard work. And helping the administration, helping the education department

deeply understand the importance of full inclusion, for all LGBTQ+ young people in schools and also doing a special double click[?] to say, yeah, LGBTQ+, broadly. But like, don’t forget the T and the NB, right? We have to make sure that trans and non-binary folks are understood as part of that. And the specific needs of trans, non-binary and intersex folks are considered in whatever rules are made. There’s a way, in which it covers a lot of ground because it was, there was so little before.

Thing two, is that it provides language that is helpful and that gives guidance to folks at every single level of government and every single level of education, of our education system, that tells them not to discriminate. So that’s generally positive. It’s overwhelmingly, generally positive. And at the same time, part of what we are seeing right now, is that the people who are against queer inclusion, LGBTQ inclusion. Specifically, the folks who are against trans and non-binary and intersex folks being included in parts of American life, but particularly children in school, they are looking for ways to discriminate, right? And so, it’s helpful that Title IX says, don’t discriminate. And yet, we still think that there’s some more ground that this can cover.

And then here’s where we get a little bit more granular, right? If a school imposes restrictions, well, how do they do it? How they justify it? Etc. The proposed rule makes clear that any type of justification, that has dominated the conversation thus far, is unacceptable. So, for example, you can’t say that what the Olympic or NCAA soccer regulations, are is appropriate for a middle school or high school, soccer player’s assessment of eligibility. You cannot say that trans girls have a categorical advantage over sis girls in sports, right? So what’s good, is that transphobia and junk science are not acceptable justifications, that’s wonderful. Here’s what we think are important asks, and important elevations and advancement, um, that this rule must do to ensure that all young people, including trans, non-binary and intersex folks, can be included in all parts of school life, without exception.

We’re urging the administration to revise some of the language in order to support strong implementation and advanced full inclusion for trans, non-binary, intersex youth, on all aspects of education, including school sports. So, our key, kind of asks, of the administration, are to affirm a presumption of participation consistent with gender identity in the regulatory text. There’s some really great language in the preamble, the very first part of the proposed rule, that is not carried through into the text of the rule. And it’s really important, as this goes into implementation, goes in front of really smart lawyers, really technical people. We wanna make sure that it’s clear throughout the document, that the presumption of participation that is consistent with gender identity, is understood throughout the text. They have to disallow the use of “injury prevention,” quote-unquote, and the “fairness in competition,” quote-unquote, as a cover for discrimination and provide clear guard rails against the use of problematic types of evidence to justify exclusion.

Imara: So, I understand all the things that you’re saying that are good in the rule, but one of the things that the rule does say, is that essentially, if you’re going to give an exception to categorical bans, these are essentially the elements and the standards that you have to meet in order to do that.

Melanie: Mm-hmm.

Imara: What that essentially does, practically, is that it actually gives people a road map for how to get around the rule.

Melanie: Mmh, that’s right. Mm-hmm.

Imara: If the administration thinks that a group like the Alliance Defending Freedom, won’t be able to figure out how to craft exceptions, given the pathway laid out by the rule itself. I’m wondering if people have a strong understanding of what trans kids, and the people that support them are up against. So I wanna know what your concern is, if in any, around the way that part is crafted.

Melanie: Yeah, no, absolutely. Listen, I think that it is, it is good that in the preamble, right? The administration starts off by saying, categorical bans, discrimination or exclusion of trans, non-binary or intersex young people is prohibited. That’s good, to your point, right? Our opposition, the folks who are opposed to equity and inclusion for all of us and particularly trans and non-binary folks are laser-focused and will pick apart anything they can, to find the pathway to how do we discriminate and how do we get federal funds and get the, the force of government behind us to support us in that. So, one, they’ve gotta get rid of the transphobic opposition language, around injury, prevention, fairness, and competition, quote-unquote, that’s a cover. It’s covered in code language that is deeply transphobic and can be used to exclude trans, non-binary, intersex folks. The other piece is around, this rule has to prohibit the deeply harmful sex testing, including visual inspection of anatomy or other medical examinations of people who are looking to play sports

Being able to do any form of sex testing, is deeply harmful. So deeply inappropriate, a-and frankly, it’s disgusting. It’s gross. So, distinguishing between minimally burdensome procedures, right? To establish gender identity, and restrictions on participation consistent with gender identity, for both, requiring considerations of interactions with the anti-trans state laws, how that has an impact on a young person who’s tried to play sports and how they’re state or their school is requiring them to qualify, right? To play on the team, that closely aligns with their gender identity. So, what we have to do is really figure out how to patch these holes, to make sure that without exception, every single young person, including trans and non-binary and intersex kids, can participate in all parts of school life, including using the facilities, using bathrooms and locker rooms and also, including playing on sports teams.

Imara: One of the ways that you all are encouraging people to make their voices heard because this rule still is in the draft stage, as we mentioned in our opening, is to have people exercise their public comments through, what your howling, let us play. Kind of this partnership between GLSEN and NCTE. So I’m wondering if you can just tell us what that is and how people can make their comments and their voices heard.

Melanie: So, Department of Education, they’re holding open, this proposed rule, our thirty days of public comment. There are organizations like mine, GLSEN, like in NCTE and other organizations, who are putting in comments. GLSEN is writing one that many organizations are signing on to. And what’s important is that there are folks who are justice minded, equity minded, they get our comments in, in this moment, because you better believe that the opposition, right? They’re gonna be loud, it’s gonna be ugly and they’re gonna seek to flood the system with negative comments. And so what we need to do, is be really clear from our perspective and with our voices and with our people. Showing the amount of people who are in support of this rule and trans and non-binary inclusion in, in terms of sports. So it’s important for folks from various perspectives, to put their comments in, right? It’s important for parents to say, “Hey, this is what I see my kid going through. Here is how I know that their participation and inclusion in sports helps, here is why non discrimination against my kid is super important in the school setting. And most importantly, it’s super important that, that students, trans gender, non-conforming, non-binary, intersex, kids, comment themselves, right? Both on how trans exclusionary restrictions encourage gender policing and reinforcing of stereotypes and it contributes to their, to a bad climate at school and a bad experience for them as individuals. Also, how this proposed rule can help, right? Can help them stay in school, can help them be more connected and can help them succeed.

Imara: Melanie, thank you so much for coming on and [background music] talking about the importance of making your voice heard. On this particular issue, sadly, by the time this episode airs, that comment period would have already closed, but I know that we’ll continue to be focused on whatever comes out in the final declaration and people can continue to express themselves to their elected representatives. So, thank you so much for coming on.

Melanie: Yeah, thanks for having me. Good talking to you.

Imara: ‘Course. That was Melanie Willingham Jaggers, who is the executive director of GLSEN. [music] Thank you for joining me on the TransLash podcast and I listed all the way, through to the end of the show, for something extra. Special thanks to Muppet Jedi, for giving us a five-star review on Apple Podcast. Muppet Jedi says, “Critical amazing work by an amazing woman. This journalism and story sharing is so needed right now.” Well, I thank you for all of that and love this handle because everybody knows I am a Star Wars fan. So if you all want to join Muppet Jedi, to help support our show, go ahead and leave your own five-star review on Apple Podcast. You might just hear it on the show, especially if it has a Star Wars reference. The TransLash podcast is produced by TransLash media. The TransLash team includes Oliver-Ash Klein and Aubrey Calloway. Xander Adams is a contributing producer to the show and our sound engineer. Digital strategy is handled by Daniela Capistrano. The music you heard, was composed by Ben Draghi and also courtesy of ZZK records. The TransLash podcast is made possible by the support of foundations and listeners, like you. [music]

What am I f-, looking forward to over the next couple of weeks y’all? It’s Memorial Day. I actually don’t have anything planned, um, and I’m so looking forward to that because it’s been a really hectic period for all of us in so many different ways in our community. Um, someone recently asked me how I try to juggle all of the things, um, that I somehow manage to mostly juggle, and I said it’s because I take breaks and I believe taking brakes are really important. So, that’s what I’m gonna do a Memorial Day. So, I might go to a barbecue or might do something cute. If it’s hot, I might go to the beach, but it’s gonna be unscheduled time so that my brain can reset and get ready for the madness that is pride month for all of us. Pride month’s gonna be lit this year, so strap in. [music]


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TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.



TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.


Coming Soon

The Glow UP

At TransLash, change is constant. We embrace our own process of collective transformation, and we honor every step of the journey. We’re getting ready to celebrate a pivotal point in our story, and we’re inviting you to be a part of it! 

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We’ve been working behind the scenes to launch a new brand for TransLash—one that honors our roots, reflects our growth, and leaves room for what’s to come. Over the next few months, you’ll notice fresh visuals and content as we bring our “glow up” to life across our digital channels. This summer, we’ll celebrate the culmination of that work: our brand new website! We’re building a new home for the journalism you love and trust, grounded in our deep commitment to the trans community.

We’re stepping into our own transition, and we want to share it with you. Join us!

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