New Hanover County locals torn on new transgender athletic policy

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Tuesday night, the New Hanover County Board of Education passed a new policy allowing middle school student athletes to play on the team aligning with their gender identity.

It’s a policy Leslie Cohen, a mother to two now grown-up transgender kids says will help students.

“We know that supporting trans kids makes a huge difference,” said Cohen. “And I think last night was just an amazing win for our kids here in New Hanover County.”

The decision was a controversial one. Some parents, like GOP chairman Will Knecht believed it could take away opportunities from female athletes.

“This transgender issue, which is being pushed through the Title IX perspective,” Knecht said, “absolutely does away with all the protections for girls and is an affront to girls.”

Others say it would instead provide more opportunity.

And there’s one very fundamental thing that’s being missed in that argument,” Cohen explained. “And that is that trans girls are girls.”

According to Knecht, many were confused as to why the policy was brought up in the first place.

“It’s not like there are hundreds of transgender kids in the middle school clamoring to play in girls sports,” said Knecht.

Cohen said while transgender children in sports is a newer issue, the argument has been used before. She remembered a girl when she was in elementary school who constantly beat both girls and boys in competitions, and the parents who said she had an unfair advantage.

“Cindy wasn’t trans. She was black. This is the same argument that’s being made,” Cohen remembered. “That Cindy somehow genetically had an advantage.”

Though Knecht believes this could be unfair to female athletes, he said he worries more about how students’ well being will be affected by the new rule.

“I fear this is going to hinder children in many respects.” Knecht continued, “If you look at some of the mental health issues involved in this long term. I don’t believe this is in best interest of our children.”

The new policy passed with a vote of five to two last Tuesday night. It only applies to middle school students, and states it does not guarantee trans students the same policies in high school.

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