WASHINGTON – In response to U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of a federal anti-transgender sports ban, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Cameron Samuels, Engagement & Inclusion Vice President of NFTY, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, NFTY, and the wider Reform Movement:
“We condemn the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. Despite its name, this bill provides no protections for transgender women and girls and instead prohibits them from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity. This bill and others like it perpetuate the false, baseless narrative that transgender athletes harm and threaten women’s sports. There is no evidence to suggest that transgender athletes have a systemic advantage over cisgender athletes; rather, every athlete is unique, and multiple factors contribute to athletic success. Most importantly, transgender women are women and deserve to participate on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
“Anti-transgender policies such as this sports ban actively harm and detract from real issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. Transgender and non-binary young people consider and attempt suicide at much higher rates than cisgender youth, but suicide rates drop significantly when children are part of communities – such as sports teams – that affirm their identities. Now is the time to make schools and communities more inclusive and affirming, not hateful and harmful.
“Jewish tradition teaches that all people are created b’tzelem Elohim (in the Divine image) and are worthy of dignity and respect (Genesis 1:27). The belief that the stamp of the divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism and teaches us that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person because of their identity. Judaism also specifically recognizes the diversity of gender identity. In fact, our Jewish legal texts mention at least six different sex and gender identities and proudly affirm the existence of transgender, non-binary, intersex, and genderfluid individuals.
“This federal anti-transgender sports ban is just the beginning of the anti-LGBTQ+, specifically anti-transgender, legislation expected to be introduced in Congress, and it’s just the extension of what we are already seeing in state legislatures across the country. We are deeply disappointed in the House’s passage of this hateful bill and urge all Senators to oppose its introduction in the Senate.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit RAC.org for more.
NFTY is the Reform Jewish religious youth movement, fostering leadership at the national, regional, and congregational level. For more than 75 years, NFTY has offered thousands of young people the opportunity to explore and live Reform Judaism through teen-powered weekends and engaging social justice ventures. Visit NFTY.org for more.