I’m being told the boys are wearing different colored socks in September to support childhood cancer awareness and another color in October to support breast cancer awareness. We’re told we have to pay $20 for these two pairs of socks and the proceeds will go to support the causes.
I’m an assistant coach and asked the head coach who decided to do this. He let me know that the “park board wanted our kids to understand there are people out there that have these afflictions and need support.”
The money isn’t an issue but I have a problem being told we have to support any cause (regardless of how noble the cause is) in REC LEAGUE sports. Plus, at five years old, I don’t think any of the boys will understand the meaning behind the socks. Am I completely off base having an issue with this or should I just pay the $20 and have my son wear the different colored socks? The other option is to just have my son wear the normal team color socks we’re wearing in August throughout the entire season.”
“I coach my daughter’s [sport] team and have been given a sort of heads-up from the league that we are going to have a trans-gendered girl on our roster this year. The girls are ten years old. At the outset, let me make this perfectly clear: like every other kid on the roster, I will use her preferred pronouns, call her by whatever name she goes by, and treat her the same as the other kids on the team. They are young enough where it may not be obvious to everyone else, so my sincere hope is that no one but me and the other coaches for our team will be any the wiser. I don’t plan on addressing it with the team or any of the parents unless I’m forced to by circumstances. I also don’t think this is a situation where the kid is going to go out and dominate like some 90’s-era movie.
I’m sensitive to the fact that whatever this child is going through is infinitely more difficult and serious than my petty coaching concerns and I hope that she has a good support system in place to meet her needs. If playing in this league helps her out, then its probably a good thing on balance, particularly since they are not really old enough for this to become a safety concern and there are no locker room-type issues (they are all still children after all). If this was a higher age-group, puberty issues might make this untenable and I’d probably have less of an inclusive attitude about the situation. If I have to have a conversation with my daughter about gender dysphoria, then I will and knowing her the way that I do, I don’t think it would be that difficult. That part of this situation doesn’t bother me, though I don’t expect that all, or even most, other parents will feel this way.
But, perhaps selfishly, I can’t help resenting the fact that volunteering time to coach three days a week is hard enough under typical circumstances and that this could very easily make it much more difficult. My main concern is how other parents, both on our team and opposing teams, will react if this situation becomes known.
So my question to you, King Solomon of the Internet, is if you were in my shoes, how would you handle this situation if you were confronted by a parent who didn’t want his/her daughter playing with/against this child? I’m a believer in being prepared, so I’d like to have some portion of an answer chambered and, so far, I’ve not come up with much beyond “The league follows the [national organization for the sport] guidelines, which allows [child’s name] to play on this team.”
I know I’ve been unhelpfully vague about age, sport, location, political leanings of the area, etc. Those are all factors here, but I think keeping this vague is probably the right thing to do here.”
There is no doubt you’ve been put in a tough spot here, especially for a volunteer coach of ten year old girls.
I’ve coached little league baseball for the past four years so here’s how I think I’d respond in this situation.
First, it’s not uncommon for girls to, for instance, play little league baseball with boys.
When I was a kid we had a couple of girls play in the boy’s little league. This was long before transgender rights became a cultural battlefield. I bet many people reading this had the same thing in their little leagues. We just considered these girls to be tomboys and no one batted an eye. Some of the girls, at that age, were really good too.
So that’s the first item I’d go to in my arsenal, the idea that while there is a cottage industry of people trying to create and exploit cultural divisions in our country today, this situation isn’t that much different than what might have happened back in the 1980’s or the 1990’s.
Second, and even more pertinent, I assistant coached little league basketball with multiple girls on every “boys” team for two different years of teams. I’m not even sure what the rule is for girls playing on teams in our league, but at young ages, pre-puberty, it really isn’t a very big deal at all for girls to play in boys leagues.
I haven’t heard of boys doing this in a girls league, but I’d assume it happens occasionally, and the biological impact is the same.
There just isn’t that much difference between boys and girls at young ages.
So how did we handle it?
We didn’t coach the boys and girls any different in our league and I don’t really think the sex of the child factors in very much at all. As you said, they haven’t hit puberty and in pre-puberty sports leagues it’s often the case, actually, that girls are bigger and stronger and faster than many, or most, of the boys.
In terms of the language choices that we used, I addressed everyone on the team using the term guys, which I think is pretty generic and not that specific to gender. As in, “Come on guys, we’ve got to pay better attention right now.” Or, “Guys, come here, this is the play we’re going to run now.”
If you have a specific coaching instruction with a specific player then you call that player by his or her name. That’s all you need. The preferred pronouns angle, I think, wouldn’t come up that often. Again, I can’t think of any time the gender of one of the kids was remotely an issue at all.
So I tend to think based on the ages of the kids you are coaching, it won’t be an issue either. I wouldn’t make a big show of addressing the issue or anything like that. I’d just coach the team as if nothing else was different at all.
But I do think the league has an issue going forward with determining what the rules are in situations like these for post-puberty competition. Because once the boys hit puberty they are going to dominate the girls. That’s no fault of the girls, it’s just basic biology — the boys will be bigger, stronger and faster than the girls.
This is a bigger issue that society is going to have to decide as well. If biological men are able to compete with women, then biological women will pretty much cease winning. This is why the genders were separated in the first place, because if men and women compete in athletic events, women would never win. Or even come close to winning.
In a larger context, I have no issue with adults deciding to define their gender as they see fit, but we don’t let teenagers under 18 — in most states — vote, get married, buy beer or cigarettes, be sentenced to prison under adult penalties, or fight in wars because we don’t believe their brains have developed fully enough to handle those decisions. That’s why we created the distinction between ages of majority and minority.
Hell, we don’t even let teenagers legally go to R-rated movies or buy pornography.
But we let them have gender reassignment surgery before 18?
That seems crazy to me.
It seems like picking your gender is a much bigger decision than, say, deciding to drink a beer or smoke a cigarette. Mind you, I don’t want my 14 or 15 year old — or younger — to be able to do either of these either, but the states (in conjunction with the federal government) have restricted kids from making those decisions.
The rationale is that they are too young to make that decision.
Yet you’ve got parents who are zealots to ensure their kids only eat organic food and yet some of these same parents are fine with pumping artificial hormones into their minor teenagers bodies?
It just doesn’t add up for me.
I don’t have any issue with young kids playing coed sports, but I think letting a really young kid pick their gender is a bridge too far. I don’t let my five year old pick what he eats for most meals; there’s no way I’m letting him pick his gender at that age. (And, by the way, I wouldn’t let him pick his sexual orientation for life at that age either.)
This isn’t about being transphobic, it’s about being kid-decision phobic.
I just don’t trust most kid decisions, especially not those that can have lasting life-long consequences.
Once you get to be 18, you can make whatever choice you want in life, but until that point, you’re still a minor and I don’t think you should be able to make major, life-changing decisions.
But that’s all for the future, for right now I’d just treat this ten- year old kid the exact same as everyone else on the team and not make a big deal about gender at all.
Hopefully that won’t create any major issues for your team, your players, or the parents of your players.
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