Pat Cordova-Goff made history Tuesday when she became one of the first transgender athletes ever to compete in California athletics as a girl. She played for Azusa High School in a softball game and played two innings. She had been genetically identified as a boy by the hospital; however, she had always seen herself as a girl. She was one of the first people to benefit from AB 1266, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. It allows transgender athletes to compete without discrimination. For her, breaking barriers is nothing new.
Cordova-Goff came out as transgender as a sophomore in high school, and now she colors her lips with a deep fuchsia hue and perks her eyelashes with mascara. She listens to Alicia Keys and Beyoncé and says Princess Diana is her idol. Cordova-Goff takes pride in attending Azusa High School in California’s San Gabriel Valley, so she joined the cheer team before identifying as transgender and continued to perform after coming out. As a senior, she ran for student body president against a popular candidate — and won.The bill came about partly as a result of a massive lawsuit filed by the US Departments of Justice and Education against another California school that denied the right for a transgender athlete to compete.
In one high-profile discrimination complaint in the San Gabriel Valley that had to be resolved by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice last year, a transgender boy had been denied the use of sex-specific facilities for male students during school and extracurricular activities and was not permitted to stay overnight in a boys’ cabin during a school-sponsored academic camp.
Unfortunately, there are certain people who wish to fight back against the tide of history, just like when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for Major League Baseball in 1947. The Pacific Justice Institute, classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, attempted to spearhead a petition drive to overturn it.
The effort, however, fell short. The California Secretary of State threw out over 100,000 signatures, leaving the Pacific Justice Institute and their allies below the 500,000 voter threshold required to place initiatives on the ballot. Supporters of this petition claimed that it was a matter of protecting the majority against the minority. But what they don't understand is basic civics -- the whole purpose of our Constitutional system of law was to protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. Basic human rights are not a popularity contest; they are written in our Constitution.
Dean Welliver (17), a transgender male, said in the article that it was about basic fairness.
"I lived every day of my life as a boy, and then to have to go to school and use the girl's bathroom and the girl's facilities, that's just too painful," Welliver said. "This is just making sure that all students can go to school and have the same opportunities to succeed and participate."For Cordova-Goff, there are days when it can be overwhelming. From the Al-Jazeera article:
For Cordova-Goff, playing softball is a tradition. “This sport has kind of defined what my family is about,” she said. When her father wasn’t coaching, he would take Pat and her three sisters to a nearby field and practice drills until they were exhausted. Now the chance to compete has come at a cost.The local paper carried the story and notes that the school has been very supportive.
“There are a lot of days where I’m so over everything,” she said of critical or derogatory comments in news stories and on social media. “But I try to remember the bigger picture and the reason I’m on the field.”
Cordova-Goff, who has identified as transgender since her sophomore year of high school, said Assembly Bill 1266’s passing allowed her to return to a sport she loves, surrounded by teammates with which she feels comfortable. The Associated Student Body president and 4.0 grade-point average student said she also has felt supported by her principal and the Azusa Unified School District, such as when she established the school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance club and when she ran for homecoming queen in September.The school has extra facilities that transgender athletes use if they need privacy in changing in and out of uniforms. Many questions have been raised about whether a predatory male teen could use this as a way to use the girls bathroom in order to stalk potential victims. That is a fair concern. But every school has private bathrooms if that were an issue; all schools are required to protect the privacy of all students, transgender or not. To deny certain students a basic human right out of fear that a tiny few would abuse it is the very sort of tyranny of the minority that the Pacific Justice Institute says they're against. And in fact, there is not one such case that we know of. That is similar to Ronald Reagan's "welfare queen" claim. We all know the type of person who thinks that they should not have to work and who is gaming the system to live off the government. But such people are in the small minority as compared to people who legitimately need a social safety net.
“We have policies about nondiscrimination based on race, religion, gender, gender identity and gender expression,” Azusa Unified Superintendent Linda Kaminski said. “We take those seriously and try to implement them faithfully, and the story here is that we did that and we have had a consistent approach of trying to be fair to all students.”
Other barriers are being broken in California as well. The state has ordered health insurance companies to remove blanket exclusions against transgender people, allowing more and more people to get the healthcare that they need. In protecting transgender people, California is ahead of the Federal Government. On Thursday, the Palm Center released a report calling for the end of transgender discrimination in the military. And the Transgender Law Center notes that a disproportionate number of sexual abuse cases against immigrants involve transgender immigrants.