Dingus of the Week: People Outlawing Trans Girls from Sports
This is the Weekly Dingus. The Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink recipe, and vent about something really dingusy that happened in the news. This week, it’s anyone trying to ban books. But it could be anyone? Maybe it’s a boat? Maybe it’s the New York Times? There is only one way to find out….SUBSCRIBE.
As nearly 1 million Americans have died from a novel and deadly virus, and war rages overseas, and many Americans can’t afford basic healthcare or childcare, lawmakers in 11 states are stepping up and addressing these problems by funding healthcare.
No, wait. *checks notes* They are actually banning trans girls and women from sports.
This is like seeing a house fire and instead of doing anything to help you find kids, puppies, and gasoline and toss them all in.
Just one day after going on national television and declaring Iowa a place that preserves freedom, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill that banned trans girls and women from competing in girls’ sports. The party of free, unregulated trade and no taxes suddenly has a lot to regulate when it comes to your body.
These bills protect no one and harm so many vulnerable youth. In Texas, these bans are being used as pretext to investigate the parents of trans kids for child abuse. Meanwhile, hitting your kids is still legal. But supporting them in their identity is not.
Author Britni De La Cretaz wrote for InsideHook last year about trans male athletes, noting, “One thing this attempt to ban trans kids from competing ignores is that most youth athletes — transgender or cisgender — will never compete at the most elite levels. They are just kids who want to play sports with their friends. That’s it.”
I think a lot about this. I never competed in a sport until college, mostly because I was told I was bad at them. Then, I played rugby for a season (I got a concussion, and my parents threatened to cut me off the health insurance if I kept it up). But I loved it. I loved just the ability to exist as a body in motion on the field. What a thrill it was to be sweaty and dirty and to go so hard and to hear nothing in my head except the whoosh of my own heart beating. It’s the one time I felt like I could just absolutely go full throttle and not be told to keep it back and hold it all in. After rugby, I began running and it has become a lifelong obsession for me. A way for me to feel the edges of myself, test and push my limits, to escape the hell of my head, and, even just for a moment, the hell of this earth. And what an absolutely cruel thing to take that away from a kid who needs it. All because what? You don’t think your daughter will get her volleyball scholarship to Wartburg? What is really at stake here?
I was interested to see how many people in America supported bans like this. And sadly, it turns out there are a lot. According to Gallup, the majority of Americans have no problem with a trans person in the military. It’s okay to use a trans body for war. But on the softball field? I guess that’s where we have trouble. With the majority of Americans supporting the idea that you have to play the sport with the birth you are assigned at gender.
Speaking in the Iowa Capitol on Wednesday, State Sen. Jim Carlin said they were “trying to protect time-honored boundaries for women and girls.” And I think of all the violence that has been done in the name of protecting women and girls. About the virulent pushback against school integration. The lynchings done in the name of protecting women and girls. How so often, it’s our virtue, our purity that is invoked when it comes to passing crime bills or anti-immigration laws. And yet, we still can’t get paid maternity leave or affordable healthcare in this country. Women are still being paid less to the male dollar; our uteruses are being legislated out of existence. Meanwhile, our bodies are being used to justify legislative violence.
If you cared that much about women and girls, you wouldn’t defund Planned Parenthood. No, this isn’t about us. It is about those “time-honored” boundaries Carlin spoke of, but only because to lose those boundaries would be for men to lose control of the narrative.
The hypocrisy of declaring freedom and then restricting a girl’s ability to play softball is so glaring, it feels cheap to point it out. But there it is.
If you’d like to support organizations that support trans youth, please donate to One Iowa, which has been doing the work here in the state.
What I Am Reading:
Melissa Gira Grant, writing for The New Republic, had this story about trans kids in Texas and the fight for their lives.
I read, for the first time, this Leigh Cowart essay from 2017. It’s about the necessity of a fire and her marriage. And I just loved it. It echoes something I wrote in my book God Land, that sometimes bridges don’t need to be built, they need to burn. Sometimes it’s okay to be divided. Sometimes it’s okay to let something die. If we believe in death, we have to believe in life, and the two feed each other. Winter comes before spring. That is the cycle. And here we are in March, at the beginning of new life again.
Anyway, just a beautiful essay.
Over in this newsletter, I went long on who Iowa’s governor is and what motivates her in advance of her response to the State of the Union. I spent days poring through old newspapers and yearbooks and also relied on my time at the paper. I also went into the archives of the Iowa Senate to look up which bills she tried to pass in her one term in the Senate. I think it’s important to take power players seriously and put them in their entire context beyond the quippy tweets. I do want to point out that no other outlet did anything like this. This isn’t to demean anyone’s work. It’s a small state with a smaller, hollowed-out press corp; no one has time to go long. Except, we do here. So thank you!
I will say, I did leave many things out, just because I didn’t want it to get too long. But I should have put in that currently the state auditor is asking Reynolds to return $450,000 in misspent COVID relief funds. I also failed to mention her ties to Steve King, which I had written about in 2020. Finally, I didn’t mention that she currently has only one Democratic challenger, Diedre DeJear, who did go viral on Twitter on Tuesday night.
Relatedly, if you are a paid subscriber, you might remember me talking about *someone* in the weekly thread? And then I said, I’d tell you who that was…
Well, apropos of absolutely nothing, here was the governor’s spokesperson’s response to my newsletter.
If you were a subscriber, you’d get this. Also, now you know why this newsletter carries this title.
We won’t end on that note. The note we will end on is WOW RICH PEOPLE HAVE NO TASTE. Unless you specifically are rich. Then you have a lot of taste. So much. I apologize.
What I am Drinking:
Hello, it’s Shamrock Shake time. Back in my mom-blogging days, my unabashed love of McDonald’s meant that McDonald’s considered me an influencer and would often mail me a bunch of coupons for free food and Shamrock Shakes. I don’t miss those days. But I do miss the coupons. Which brings me to my next point: The Grasshopper is just a boozy Shamrock Shake for fancy people. And I must concur with the New York Times that it is time to bring back The Grasshopper.
This newsletter is normally anti-milk-based drinks. But I am allowed to flip-flop on low-stakes discourse like booze. Those are the rules.
This past week, I read about the comeback of The Grasshopper, which featured my favorite local restaurant, Cobble Hill. I did not get a chance to go to Cobble this week, but I will make up for that on Saturday. My plan is to order that wild drink mentioned in the story, titled The Scorpion and the Grasshopper, which combines vodka, mezcal, Branca Menta, absinthe, and mint and is served with a tiny scorpion.
Wish me luck.
I did not make any drinks at home this week. And not because of Lent. Although, I will say, I was raised Baptist and we never really did Fat Tuesday, but we were always encouraged to pray more during Lent and give up sugar, and in hindsight that was such Baptist bs. Way to make it all about the misery without any focus on the fun.
But back to my original point: I didn’t make any drinks this week. But I did go back to Crosby’s (a new restaurant in town), and I tried a drink called the Smoke and Rye, which involves rye whiskey, champagne, and smoked rosemary, and it was very delightful.
I looked up the drink and I found this recipe, which is basically an old-fashioned with rosemary simple syrup mixed with tonic water. My suspicion is that the restaurant uses champagne instead of tonic water and just smokes the rosemary, and if you do that, you will get very, very close. But still, if you are local, you should go to Crosby’s.
Okay, one more…
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