Gender policing in sports has a blatantly racist history, often being disproportionately performed on Black woman athletes regardless of whether their gender identity conforms with their birth assignment. Even just this year, former Polish sprinter Marcin Urbas requested Olympics organizers run a “thorough test” on Namibian athlete Christine Mboma to “find out if she definitely is a woman” after she ran a semi-final time of 21.97 seconds in the women’s 200-meter race. Mboma, an intersex athlete, was not allowed to run her signature 400-meter race due to “elevated testosterone levels.”
Including transgender athletes in sports categories that match their gender identity is the correct thing to do, full stop. Aside from being the affirming thing to do, the underlying assumptions most cisgender people make about trans bodies to justify their exclusion are incorrect from the start, and reactionary transphobes fail to consider the repercussions that gender policing in sports has on everyone, cis athletes included.
Since 2018, cis athletes including South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi and others have all been banned from competing in Olympic events due to regulations surrounding differences in hormonal development. What these short-sighted and racist policies fail to take into account is the fact that training always trumps biology.
Even the occasional mutations that give a genuine biological advantage—for example, Michael Phelps’ wingspan and double-jointed ankles—aren’t gendered and aren’t useful without relevant training and practice. “One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” explained Andraya Yearwood, a student track athlete and ACLU client, “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.”
The idea that there are distinct “male” and “female” hormones is misleading. Who would accuse a female-assigned cisgender woman who has elevated testosterone levels of not being a woman? In fact, ovaries themselves produce testosterone. Everybody has varying levels of chemistry determining the effects their endocrine system has on their body. Why choose to discriminate on this rather than any other biological variable, such as lung capacity or limb length or foot size?
But what about trans athletes specifically? The thing is, trans people don’t have any specific advantages categorically, since trans people come in all heights, shapes, and sizes! According to New York Endocrinologist and Executive Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery Dr. Joshua D Safer, “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.” Even if a trans athlete is taller than a competitor, height doesn’t really convey an advantage either—Serena Williams is 5’9″ and still has many more grand slam titles than her taller peers.
A 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of Queer community members reporting illicit drug use disorders is twice as many as their cis/het peers. According to GLAAD’s 2020 Accelerating Acceptance survey, people who identify as gay or lesbian are more than twice as likely to have a “severe” alcohol or tobacco use disorder than their het peers, people who identify as bisexual are three times as likely to develop a substance use disorder, and transgender students are two and a half times more likely to use drugs than cis students.
These alarming statistics are due in part to the unique difficulties faced by the Queer community due to outdated legal, religious, and ethical practices leading to Queerphobia and discrimination. It’s vital that members of the LGBTQ+ communities have access to empathetic and comprehensive treatment options within a community which supports addiction recovery. That’s why we’ll be hosting a table at Recovery Day Lancaster September 11 at Buchanan Park!
Recovery Day Lancaster is a celebration of healing which helps to normalize addiction recovery as a healthy and contributing factor towards a strong community. Recovery is more sustainable in a welcoming and supportive environment, so join us starting at 9:30 AM for a 5K walk for recovery, unity circle, and performances from Half Past Dead and Octavia Blues Band. There will be vendors, games, crafts, and more all day — so drop by and say hi!
On Tuesday, July 13, over 300 people from the Lancaster community gathered outside Hempfield High School to support transgender students desiring to participate in high school athletics. The school board was meeting to hear from district residents and presumably decide the issue. Currently, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association relegates the decision regarding transgender athlete participation to local high school principals.
After hearing from 80 speakers the Board ultimately decided to hire a law firm to assist in establishing a school district policy on the matter. The Independence Law Center, which “works to preserve religious liberty, promote marriage and the family, and protect human life,” was nominated and approved. This is a conservative Christian group hired with tax dollars without due process of bidding. It seemed evident to those in attendance that this motion to hire this particular religious law firm to establish policy was pre-planned. A conservative religious group should not be making policy for a public high school. The school board, as a publicly elected entity should make decisions based on facts and best practice, not religious based beliefs which endanger the lives and exclude others who don’t share their faith.
Hempfield parent Jamie Beth Cohen, who has been involved in school and college sports her entire life, wrote to the board to urge them not to ban trans athletes from competing:
I say this with respect for all athletes at all levels of play: Sports are important AND the lives of our most vulnerable students are more important. Make no mistake, this is a life and death matter. And I can’t sit back and watch as trans athletes are excluded from the life-giving and life-affirming benefits of playing sports with their peers.
There are no pre-determined criteria for the way women’s bodies must be — even cisgender people can have hormone levels outside the range considered typical for their assigned sex, or could be intersex. The reality of these discriminatory bans has no basis in science and serves only to invite gender policing which could subject any woman to invasive tests or questions about personal medical information. They exist only to exclude trans people, and reinforce the idea that trans individuals are to be shunned in society.
Coach and sports policy expert Helen Caroll noted in a 2020 declaration, “For the past nine years, transgender athletes have been able to compete on teams at NCAA member collegiates and universities consistent with their gender identity like all other student-athletes with no disruption to women’s collegiate sports.”
Representatives from Lancaster Stands Up, The ACLU, YWCA, and Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition are continuing to work together to ensure that trans students are heard and supported, and that uninformed, phobic, and discriminatory policies will be challenged.
Please join us virtually on Sunday, July 18th at 8pm, as we process the multitude of emotions, events, and harm done this week as we fight for the humanity of our transgender/non-binary community members. This will be a private space to share thoughts and feelings, as well as resources for our continued work towards collective liberation. Pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Access to affirming healthcare is a vital aspect of Queer life. As with many marginalized groups, the demand for healthcare exists but Queer individuals struggle to navigate medical institutions which don’t understand or cater to our unique experience.
That’s why we’re excited to be working with Cure Dispensary for their Pride Day celebrations! From noon to 7 PM, swing by for music, free home STI test kits, discounts, and pride swag! Bring a sanitation product for a $5 discount on your order! All customers must have a medical marijuana card to enter the dispensary.
Accepted sanitation items are:
Baby Diapers (sizes 4-6)
Sunday, June 27: Salsa & MerenGay
Join us on Sunday between 8AM and 5PM at McCaskey High School for Salsa & MerenGay: an LGBTQ+ inclusive salsa lesson in partnership with Patients R Waiting and Union Community Care’s Health Equity NOW initiative! DJ Ecliptic will be performing from 2-5PM, and we’ll be handing out free home STI test kits for National HIV Testing Day.
Afterward, swing by High Fever’s pride-themed party at Marion Court from 2-7PM to catch a drag show, food and drinks, and a free home STI test kit. Admission is $10.
Happy Pride! We’re celebrating by staying focused on passing federal nondiscrimination protections like the ones outlined in the Equality Act. Because what better way to commemorate Pride than by fully protecting all Americans from discrimination?
Pride month is our biggest opportunity yet to engage the LGBTQ community and allies in helping to get this critical legislation passed, which is why we’re asking you to contact your Senators and tell them to VOTE YES TO EQUALITY!
The urgency here is real. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ Americans, and in 29 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being refused housing or denied services simply because of who they are. Full federal nondiscrimination protections like the ones outlined in the Equality Act would ensure that all Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home.
Niambi E Stanley AKA Niambi Prodigy (she/her) is a ballroom icon and historian, entrepreneur, trans activist, and mental wellness advocate. A prominent member of the Lancaster’s drag community with humble beginnings in the underground Philadelphia ballroom scene, Niambi has competed as a ballroom voguer for over 25 years. In that time, she has won numerous trophies, accolades, and awards for her dedication, excellence, and contributions to the art of vogue.
June 12, 5PM Double Vaccination Party After the SHOTS event wraps up at 5PM, The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition will host a double vaccination party from 5PM to midnight at Spring House Brewing Company, at 209 Hazel St. in downtown Lancaster.
June 12, 2PM – 7PMHigh Fever Party High Fever will host a pride-themed party at Marion Court, at 7 E. Marion St. in downtown Lancaster. The party will go from 2 to 7 p.m. and will have a DJ, a drag show, drinks and food. Admission is $10.
In cooperation with Patients R Waiting and Dr. Sharee Livingston, OBGYN, Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition’s Queer Health Advocacy Alliance unites healthcare providers across disciplines who advocate for and are knowledgeable about the health and wellness needs of the LGBTQ+ community. With a founding membership consisting of Dr. Sharee Livingston and Karen Foley, MA, LPC, our goal is to create an intricate network of advanced providers for comprehensive coordination of care for the LGBTQ+ community.
Seeking healthcare as a Queer individual is often a daunting task, particularly in Central Pennsylvania. Finding affirming practitioners who are knowledgable about the intricacies of Queer healthcare can feel impossible, especially if one doesn’t know where to start, and LGBTQ+ communities have historically not been counted in large data systems.
According to data we collected in the PA 2020 LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment, more than 1 in 3 respondents do not believe their healthcare providers have the medical expertise related to their health needs as a Queer individual, and 4 in 10 experience at least one barrier to healthcare. This limits the access to health and wellness resources of a population which already experiences increased rates of health challenges as a result of social, environmental, cultural, and institutional factors.
The Queer Health Advocacy Alliance will join forces to remove barriers, activate research, and ensure fully culturally humble healthcare for all intersections by:
Identifying, connecting, and training a network of providers that are proficient in all intersections of the LGBTQ+ community of Central Pennsylvania
Breaking down barriers to access for patients and communication between hospitals and providers
Providing scholarships to interns seeking to specialize in LGBTQ+ Healthcare (with a focus on funding multilingual and BIPOC interns)
Identifying and conducting necessary research for LGBTQ+ health needs
Niambi E Stanley AKA Niambi Prodigy (she/her) is a ballroom icon and historian, entrepreneur, trans activist, and mental wellness advocate. A prominent member of the Lancaster’s drag community, Niambi will be organizing and performing in the Coalition’s SHOTS Pride Month vaccination drive with DJ VJPumpDaBeat!
With humble beginnings in the underground Philadelphia ballroom scene, Niambi E Stanley AKA Niambi Ebony Prodigy (she/her) has competed as a ballroom voguer for over 25 years—since 14 years old. In that time, she has won numerous trophies, accolades, and awards for her dedication, excellence, and contributions to the art of vogue.
In 2017, Niambi began a plethora of small businesses ranging from graphic design to apparel to television programming—but she didn’t stop there. Niambi realized her true purpose was to be of service to her community through activism and advocacy for the most marginalized and discriminated against; her own community of Black Trans Women.
In recent years Black Trans Women have been increasingly denied human rights, and are regularly victims of hate crimes, violence, and murders across the country. Niambi has made it her mission to provide the most marginalized communities proper resources and skills necessary to survive and defend against violence by hosting a weekly live Facebook show titled TransTalkTuesday. TransTalkTuesday provides education, insight, awareness, news, and resources impacting the Trans community and beyond.
Niambi will be performing at the Coalition’s upcoming vaccination event, SHOTS: Vogue, Vaccines, and Visibility, on June 12 at Union Community Care. See you there!