DFL Senator Scott Dibble had a strong argument earlier this week when discussing the proposed legislation authored by Republican Representative Tim Miller that would repeal the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) policy allowing transgender student athletes to play on the sports team of their choice: Before passing laws through the Legislature, be sure you have a relationship with the communities impacted by those laws.
Sen. Dibble’s argument came about during an episode of Pioneer Public Television’s “Your Legislators.” The legislators were discussing Rep. Miller’s bill that would overturn the MSHSL policy, and this is how the conversation ended:
Sen. Dibble: To say that somehow biological boys who are transgender are boys is simply showing a level of misunderstanding and disrespect for the experience of what it is to be transgender. Boys are not clamoring to get into girls’ locker rooms. That is not what is happening here. And so I would just ask Representative Miller and everyone else who is interested [to] have a relationship with the transgender community before you proceed on taking steps like this.
Rep. Miller: How are you not aware that I [do] have a relationship with the transgender community?
Sen. Dibble: Because you wouldn’t have written the bill in the manner that you did.
Rep. Miller: Oh, okay.
You can view the rest of the clip here.
Rep. Miller’s defense of the bill centers on the fact that, with the way the proposed bill is written, no one is held “in harm” by its language.
Transgender students, under Rep. Miller’s law, would have to be accommodated for by schools, although Rep. Miller provides no explanation as to what that accommodation would look like or how much it would cost.
Thanks to legislation like the bill introduced by Rep. Miller, Minnesota is now considered “anti-transgender” according to a national map from the Washington Post.
The moderator of “Your Legislators” shifted the conversation after Rep. Miller apparently conceded to Sen. Dibble’s theory that Rep. Miller doesn’t have a relationship with the transgender community.
It remains unclear whether Rep. Miller stands by his statement that he worked with the transgender community in mind while crafting this bill, but it feels safe to assume that refusing to allow transgender student athletes to play on the team on which they feel most comfortable is not something the community would support.
If legislators nationwide began to craft bills about specific groups of people without fostering relationships with those groups, it would change the way America functions as a democracy. Elected officials have the jobs they do to represent the people in their districts.
But legislation to repeal the rights of students that would allow them to feel comfortable and safe doesn’t appear to be very representative at all.