The parents of a sore Utah loser launch an investigation to determine if the winner is transgender

When a girl left her competitors in the dust at a state school athletic competition in Utah last year, not everyone was impressed by her inspiring athleticism. The parents of the girls who came second and third couldn’t accept the winner, had simply “outperformed” their daughters – so they questioned their gender and sparked a secret investigation into the winner’s personal history.

At a meeting of the Utah Legislature’s Education Interim Committee on Wednesday, a school sports official reported on the murky investigation, adding that it was not an isolated case. David Spatafore, the Legislative Representative for the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), told the committee that his organization has received multiple complaints from parents claiming “this athlete doesn’t look feminine enough.”

Spatafore would not disclose the sport or school related to the case where the winner outperformed her competitors last year. But he revealed that UHSAA had asked the student’s school to investigate by looking at her enrollment records. “School went back to kindergarten,” Spatafore said, “and she’s always been a woman.”

Neither the student nor her family were informed of the investigation. “We just didn’t reach out to the parents or the student because there was no reason to make it a personal situation with a family or that athlete when all eligibility questions were answered by the school or schools in the feeder system.” Spatafore explained loudly The Desert News.

Such covert surveillance of children’s bodies was made possible in Utah by HB11, a controversial law passed by the House and Senate in March that banned transgender girls from participating in school sports. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox was among the critics of the bill, noting at the time of the vote that of the four transgender children in the state who play sports, only one is a girl, CBS News reported. Despite the new rules, which essentially ban only one child from participating in school sports, Cox’s veto was overturned by the state legislature and enacted anyway.

When a lawsuit is filed against a trans student’s ban, the law defaults to a commission that judges whether the student should be eligible to play. The Utah ACLU filed one such lawsuit in May on behalf of two trans women enrolled in the state’s public schools, arguing that the rules were unconstitutional and discriminatory.

For its part, the USHAA is trying to follow the principles of HB11 as closely as possible, Spatafore said. According to the LGBT Map, 18 states have bans in place to prevent transgender students from playing sports that conform to their gender identity. The parents of a sore Utah loser launch an investigation to determine if the winner is transgender


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