Under heavy sun, Bruins took to the Taylorsville Redwood campus on June 26 for Trans Sports Ball Day, one of many events that commemorated Pride Month at Salt Lake Community College.
Peter Moosman, coordinator for the college’s Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center (GSSRC), said the event was put together as a response to the political climate surrounding transgender participation in professional sports. Last year, Utah lawmakers banned transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports, but a judge’s ruling temporarily reversed this measure.
“Trans folks are being denied access to play sports. We wanted to do a response to that,” Moosman said. “[We wanted to provide a space] where they can show up in full authenticity … to be intentional about creating space for people who feel marginalized and left out.”
The event began outside with bag toss, frisbee, soccer and spike ball. Eventually the heat proved too much, and so the activities moved indoors, where participants played basketball and pickleball. Charlie Erickson, a student specialist for the GSSRC who is majoring in social work, expressed enthusiasm about the event.
“I was absolutely excited because there is a certain amount of queerphobia that comes with sports,” Erickson said. “People can come out and play sports and not worry. I think it’s fun to be able to get out and do athletic things, regardless of your ability level. We’re judge-free, so we welcome anyone regardless of their sporting abilities.”
Attendee Cory Smith, a health sciences major, joined for the camaraderie. She also brought her little brother to take part in the event.
“I wanted to feel a sense of community, find people who are like me and understand my struggle, and be involved in my school,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have activities with SLCC outside of the regular sports activities.”
Addressing the conversation of transgender inclusivity in professional sports, Erickson said they see the issue as a distraction from larger problems.
“Honestly, I think the whole thing is a big red herring,” Erickson said. “I think trans people perform at the same level as their peers after the waiting period, and I think it’s a ridiculous argument [that they can’t participate]. It’s just putting people down that are already down, and it’s a distraction from really big issues, like the economy.”
A study from 2020 published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that more than 12 months of testosterone suppression “may be needed” to ensure that transgender women do not have an unfair competitive advantage.
Speaking to the BBC podcast “The Sports Desk” last year, Loughborough University sports scientist Joanna Harper, a trans woman, addressed the research she’s observed regarding transgender participation in professional sports.
“The question isn’t, ‘Do trans women have advantages?’ but instead, ‘Can trans women and [cis] women compete against one another in meaningful competition?’” Harper said. “Truthfully, the answer isn’t definitive.”
For Erickson, SLCC’s Trans Sports Ball Day worked to serve as a space for the college’s queer community to be themselves.
“This is the kind of space where we don’t care if you’re an oddball or a star player – you’re invited,” they said.