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‘It makes us feel so small, and unheard’: 14-year-old speaks on bills to ban transgender youth from high school sports

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:17 AM MST|Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - There are more than 60 bills in state legislatures across the country that aim to ban transgender youth from playing school sports.

Advocates in the state worry that these bills have a common threat leading right back to Arizona. According to ACLU Arizona, bills targeting trans youth spiked in 2021. Advocates said 65 of the 70 bills are targeting the most vulnerable. There were 41 bills last year and only seven in 2019.

14-year-old Juniper Caraballo, who is transgender and identifies as non-binary, tells us these bills take away their right to free creative expression like sports.

“It makes us feel so small, very tiny and very unheard, and objectified,” Juniper said.

One of those bills is Arizona SB1637, introduced by GOP State senator Wendy Rogers, which would ban trans athletes from competing outside of their assigned biological sex.

Right now, Arizona’s Governing Body of High School sports allows students to play sports consistent with their gender identity, even if it does not match the sex at birth.

The AIA said,If bills are passed by state legislature relating to this, then any necessary adjustments or modifications will be made to the policy.”

Elizabeth Caraballo, Juniper’s mother, tells us these bills perpetuate hate against the trans community.

“When you make something a rule, you legitimize the behavior,” she said.

But there are people who agree with lawmakers, like Christiana Holcomb, a legal counsel for the Alliance Defending freedom. She says women’s sports should be preserved for biological females.

“Well, biology is what matters in sports and the reason why we have women’s sports in a different category is because there are real physical differences that give males an inerrant advantage,” she said.

As bills continue to be introduced, Juniper’s mission is to speak truth. Juniper asks lawmakers to sit down and reconsider.

“We’re not evil, we’re just here to live our lives. These are a form of expression like sports, we want these things just as much as you guys,” Juniper said.

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