Tag: girls

Teamwork Counts: Why I Support Trans Girls in Girls’ Sports

Teamwork Counts: Why I Support Trans Girls in Girls' Sports

Those who have met me, even briefly, know one thing about me: I’m small. I stand 5’0″ in my socks and I’m not too hefty. I’ve been an athlete all my life, though, and have almost always competed against opponents who are taller and heavier. That’s only one of the reasons why I don’t understand those who want to limit transgender girls’ participation in girls’ sports.

Shoes and jump rope

I was an NCAA varsity fencer and nationally competitive for several years beyond college. I have a black belt in taekwondo. I’m a cisgender woman and have competed in both sports against women and men (mostly women, but occasionally in mixed-gender tournaments); some of the women were 6′ tall; some of the men were 5’6″ or under, and vice versa. I was good but not exceptional, but I’ve won and I’ve lost regardless of gender, height, or weight. When I lost, I sucked it up and trained harder. Tell me I’d lose just because an opponent was bigger or stronger and my instinct was to prove you wrong.

Yes, height and weight can be an advantage in some sports, but they can also be a disadvantage—and one learns to use what one has. (In fencing, my shorter arms gave me an advantage at close quarters.) And in sports where weight really matters, like wrestling, there are weight categories so a 160-pound athlete doesn’t compete against a 110-pound one. (Having said that, when I went to smaller taekwondo tournaments, sometimes there weren’t enough competitors to break out into weight categories and I’d end up sparring someone who outweighed me by quite a bit. I just learned to move faster.)

Then there are all of the middle-school sports leagues in which some of the kids have hit their growth spurts already and others haven’t, and the size/weight discrepancy among athletes is vast, even within a single gender. Do we tell the smaller kids they can’t play, or make the smaller boys compete on the girls’ teams? No. The point is to give all kids the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of sport with their peers, which usually means with others of their gender. (Once more for the people in the back: Trans girls are girls.)

There are now, however, bills in 24 states that would ban transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports in public high schools, according to the ACLU. These bills claim that trans girls have an unfair physical advantage over cis girls. Yet as the AP points out, “in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.” And as Evan Urquart at Slate explains (my bold):

Trans women have been eligible to compete as women in the Olympics since 2004, and so far, no trans woman has even qualified, much less dominated, any women’s Olympic sport. School-age sports are a somewhat different matter, but the primary purpose of these activities is to promote fitness, goal setting, good peer relationships, and healthy competition, rather than setting records or making money. To simply ban some girls from participating outright, without recognizing that they too deserve these benefits or even attempting to find a path toward fair inclusion, is an extreme punishment, and it targets a group of young girls who are already highly stigmatized. The potential harm to cisgender women athletes posed by trans inclusion is, at best, both speculative and absolutely minuscule, given the small numbers of trans women (less than half of 1 percent of the population) who exist in the first place.

Want more information? Try “Four Myths About Trans Athletes, Debunked,” from Chase Strangio and Gabriel Arkles of the ACLU, or “Fair Play: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth,” by Shoshana K. Goldberg at the Center for American Progress. Goldberg asserts, “There is no evidence to support the claim that allowing transgender athletes to participate will reduce or harm participation in girls’ sports,” but “transgender sports bans can have disastrous consequences, particularly as they continue to perpetuate and legitimize rejection of gender identity. While inclusion in sports is not a cure-all for the deep-seated discrimination against transgender youth, their exclusion from such activities can potentially put their lives at risk.”

Yes, there will be times when transgender girls will beat cisgender ones in sports, but it will be because of their training and determination, or a bad day on the part of another competitor, or any number of other factors that go into determining the outcome (ask me about my lucky socks) other than merely the size of the person.

Count me, then, as a cisgender woman who’s been a serious athlete (and still is, though not competitively) but who is all for trans girls’ participation in girls’ sports. But it’s not really my experience that should matter here. Go read the story of 10-year-old Zoe, a girl in Arizona who just wants to play soccer with other girls, and happens to be trans.

Think this is just about sports? It’s not. Anti-LGBTQ organizations are stirring up the fear of trans girls participating in girls’ sports as a reason to vote against the Equality Act, which would provide a broad range of protections to LGBTQ people. We can’t throw these girls under the bus in the name of some greater good, however. There is no greater good than the well-being of young people. We all need to educate ourselves (if we haven’t already) about why trans girls deserve to participate in girls’ sports so that we can convince our friends, neighbors, and elected officials—for the good of trans girls and for the good of the whole LGBTQ community. That’s what being on a team is all about.

girls = 😍🥰 cons: none…??? : actuallesbians

girls = 😍🥰 cons: none...??? : actuallesbians

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Spice Girls legend Mel C used to ‘wish she was a lesbian’

Melanie C with drag queens dressed as the Spice Girls

Spice Girls legend Mel C has said that she used to “wish she was a lesbian” and that she feels “very much a part” of the LGBT+ community.

The singer faced persistent speculation in the early years of her career that she was secretly a lesbian – and she has now told Closer magazine that she didn’t mind people thinking she was queer.

Mel C, who has been in a relationship with Joe Marshall for almost six years, said she “never gave much thought” to her sexuality.

“I have friends who have only got to know me later on and they’re like, ‘There was no question in my mind that you were a lesbian,’” Mel C said.

She continued: “I work a lot with the LGBTQ+ community and I very much feel part of that community, even though I don’t fit into any of those labels.

“But, I really don’t mind being called a lesbian. There have been times in my life where I’ve thought, ‘I wish I was a lesbian.’”

Spice Girls icon Mel C is ‘very proud’ to be an ally to the LGBT+ community.

Mel C has been a longtime LGBT+ ally, and told NME in October of last year that she is “very proud” to support the trans community.

In the interview, Mel C revealed that touring with drag troupe Sink The Pink had been a “phenomenal experience” that taught her a lot about being an ally.

“I knew it would be fun, but I never expected it to affect me as much as it did,” she said.

“Being an ally to the LGBT+ community is important and rewarding. Being accepted into their world, I learned so much about their struggle, and I just admire that courage to be who you truly are – which was always the message of the Spice Girls.”

She added: “The great thing I learned working with non-binary people is to see people as people and not as a gender, which is really hard because we’re conditioned. When you first look at someone, you think, ‘There’s a tall white guy or short Black girl,’ or whatever. Take away the gender, and we all want the same things, don’t we?”


Maggie reviews Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan – The Lesbrary

Maggie reviews Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha NganAmazon Affiliate Link | Bookshop.org Affiliate Link

I am always excited for queer fantasy, and I enjoyed the first book of the series – Girls of Paper and Fire – so I was quite excited to get to Girls of Storm and Shadow. Lei and Wren had been through so much in the first book, and I was excited to see how they’d come together in the aftermath. They had killed the King, and there was rebellion to shift power in the kingdom, and they were no longer concubines. There was a lot to build off, and a budding love story to watch. But Girls of Storm and Shadow had a very different tone from the first, not all of it an improvement, in my opinion. Although there was a lot of action, and it further revealed the extent of the rebellion against the King, it seemed to lack a lot of the urgency of the first book to me, although I’m still eager to see the final book.

The book picks up with Lei, Wren, and their band of escapees in the mountains, trying to gather up support for the rebellion. The book once again examines the trope of the pivotal figurehead of the rebellion, in that technically that is Lei, but she isn’t actually very helpful to them. The rumors of what happened in the palace have spread, making Lei into the Moonchosen, but outside of her title she has little power. She also can’t take care of herself in the mountains. Although she is the one that stabbed the King, she doesn’t actually know how to fight. Being from a common family, she has no useful political connections to bring to them. All of this forces Lei to play catch up, cramming weapons practice into their grueling trek, forcing herself to learn the survival skills the others know, and trying to glean the complicated politics of the rest of the realm. This is a fascinating twist on the usual “leveling up” montage the hero gets because the rebellion doesn’t actually seem to want her there all that much. On a personal level, the group likes her and is happy to teach her, but leadership seems to make no effort to include her into plans or, somewhat puzzlingly, change those plans to really capitalize on her presence. And the more Lei learns from being around rebellion leadership, the more she’s uncertain about what she’s signed on to do.

To my surprise after the smoldering intensity of the first book, Lei and Wren’s relationship quickly took a turn for the worse in the second book. Lei was still committed, but Wren distanced herself. She didn’t want to reveal their relationship to her father, and also didn’t appreciate Lei’s questions about her father’s intentions for the rebellion. And yet there’s also an ex that immediately pulls Wren’s attention once they come back into contact. Both of these storylines are not bad relationship storylines in general, necessarily, but they were not what I was expecting from the tone of the first book, and it left me disappointed in Wren.

There is also the typical second book of a dystopian trilogy “everything gets unbearably worse” happening, but it’s not just the rebellion’s prospects of winning that seem dim. As Lei tries to help them with their next moves, she realizes just how unprepared she was for the politics of the rebellion. She also learned how deep Wren is in those politics, and what she finds is not great. There are also some large discoveries that I don’t want to spoil, but that change things dramatically. I was prepared going into this book for things to get worse before they got better, but this book also seemed to take place over a relatively short period of time and yet get very little done. Up until the final act, it seemed they spent interminable amounts of times traveling during which there wasn’t as much action as I had come to expect from the first book.

In conclusion: this is very clearly the second book of a trilogy, and it took a very different tone from the first book. Wren and Lei’s relationship fell apart, the rebellion seems lackluster and barely better in ideals than the establishment, and a lot goes downhill at the end. But that’s pretty standard second book stuff, so I’ll reserve my judgement on the series as a whole until I see how the third book wraps it up. But this one was a little more difficult for me to get through than the first one.

Shannon reviews The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe

Amazon Affiliate Link | Bookshop.org Affiliate Link

I’ve been a thriller fan for years, but I’ve always felt a little let down by the lack of queer representation in the genre. In recent years, things do seem to have gotten a bit better in this regard, but fast-paced, hard-hitting thrillers with female protagonists who aren’t straight still feel more uncommon than I’d like. So, I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to stumble upon the gem that is The Girls I’ve Been, the latest young adult thriller by Tess Sharpe. Nora, our main character, is bisexual, in love with a girl while still nursing complex feelings for her ex boyfriend.

In many ways, Nora’s life is messy. Her ex boyfriend walked in on her making out with her girlfriend, and although she and Wes haven’t been together that way in quite some time, Nora can’t help but feel bad for the surprise seeing her with someone else must have been for him. Plus, the three of them have an important errand at a nearby bank, and it’s something none of them feels they can back out on. So, Nora, Wes, and Iris meet early in the morning to deposit the money they’ve raised for a fundraiser. Nora figures the errand might be a bit awkward, but she hopes those feelings can be worked through pretty quickly.

Things go from awkward to downright dangerous when two armed men enter the bank and announce they’re robbing the place. Nora is terrified, but she also knows staying calm is the very best thing she can do. You see, Nora’s early life was anything but ordinary. Up until she was twelve, Nora lived with her mother, a very successful con artist who thought nothing of making Nora a prop in her various scams. Through these unconventional and dangerous experiences, Nora has learned a ton about what makes people act in certain ways, and she’s confident in her ability to get herself and those she loves out of this in one piece, just as long as she can come up with a workable plan.

Over the next few hours, Nora fights desperately to escape the bank, using all the skills she learned from her mother, skills she hasn’t used in the five years since she and her older sister managed to have their mother put in prison. Fortunately for Nora, the skill of the con doesn’t wear off, and it doesn’t take long for her to once again comfortably inhabit the skins of all the girls her mother taught her to become.

The Girls I’ve Been is so much more than an action-packed thriller. Sure, it’s the kind of book you’ll hate to put down. The action is nonstop, and the author’s writing is incredibly engaging. However, if you look beneath the surface of the story, you’ll soon realize there’s so much more than just survival going on. Nora has been struggling to come to terms with her past for years now, and it’s only through her desperate fight to come out of the bank robbery alive that she realizes just how complex and multi-layered a person she is.

I loved Nora as a heroine. I found myself cheering her on, even when the tactics she used felt less than up front or honest. The traumas of her past have definitely left their mark on her, but Nora is determined to be a person in her own right, no longer subject to someone else’s whims. She doesn’t have all the answers, but that’s okay. So much of the joy I took from this novel came from watching her come into her own, even when she had to make serious mistakes along the way.

Parts of the book might be difficult for some readers. Nora experienced some terrible things as a child, and although the author doesn’t go into graphic detail about the abuse she suffered, neither does she completely shy away from it. It’s dealt with in a sensitive way, but it’s still something potential readers should be aware of before diving into this story.

The Girls I’ve Been really is one of the best thrillers I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time. I literally read it in one sitting, and now that I’ve reached the end, I kind of want to go back and read it again, just so I can spend more time in Nora’s head.

Danika reviews The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe

Nora was raised by her con artist mother to be many girls: whoever their mark needed her to be. When her mother falls for the criminal, abusive man she was supposed to be conning, though, Nora made a risky escape. Now, she’s been trying to live a normal life. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have that option anymore: she, her ex-boyfriend, and her girlfriend have been taken hostage by bank robbers.

I was immediately hooked by this premise. First of all, there is the awkward social situation of Nora, Wes, and Iris being trapped together: Wes walked in on them kissing and is not impressed that they’ve been keeping this a secret–they’re all supposed to be friends. Add a potentially deadly hostage situation, and you’ve got a guarantee of tension and drama. All I really needed was for this bisexual heist/con YA novel to live up to its premise, and did it ever.

When picking up a YA thriller, I wasn’t sure what to expect: some of the darkest books I’ve read have been YA, while others keep the blood off the page. This book definitely does not shy away from violence. In fact, there is a long list of serious trigger warnings attached to this. It also hits the ground running and never lets up: the bank robbery takes place on the second page of this novel. Nora is trying to find their way out of this situation, but she hasn’t told Iris about her past.

Interspersed with this tension are the stories of who Nora used to be. They don’t feel out of place or slow down the action, though: they are always relevant to what is currently happening, and the hints we get of her backstory makes me just as eager to find out about her past as reading about the hostage situation. Nora is an amalgamation of all the roles she’s had to play as a child: she doesn’t know how to be herself, and she’s not sure who she “really” is.

I also loved the supporting characters, who have been forged into this chosen family through their own trauma. Nora lives with her older sister, who she met later in life. Lee escaped from their mother, and she comes back to help Nora escape, too, when Nora is ready. Lee is also queer, though it’s not specified whether she’s bi or a lesbian. She is a badass private investigator who will do anything to protect Nora, including playing hostage negotiator.

Wes is Nora’s ex, but he’s also her closest friend, and the only one who knows her whole story. Wes is abused by his father, the mayor, and he spends most of his time with Nora and Lee. They bond over their shared experiences, and once Nora confronts his father with her own scheme to stop the violence, Wes realizes what she’s been hiding–she didn’t give that information away freely.

Nora’s girlfriend is an intensely memorable character. She loves vintage fashion, wants to be an arson investigator, and is fearless enough that she’s been banned from dares in truth or dare. She can hold her own against Nora, and they clearly adore each other–through Iris is angry that she’s been hiding things from her. She also has endometriosis, which I don’t think I’ve seen represented in a book before. A note in the back of the book explains that this is own voices representation and gives some resources.

I was completely absorbed into this story. It’s fast-paced thriller about misogyny, power, and abuse. Though Nora’s life is exceptional, she points out that misogyny and being threatened by men as a young woman is not unusual, and that it’s something she learned outside of her con artist upbringing. In fact, all of the main characters have been abused by someone with power over them. I also appreciated that therapy is openly discussed: Nora still is working through the trauma she’s gone through, but she’s made progress through therapy, and it’s how she’s able to open up–even a little.

This is one of my favourite reads in a long time. It’s one of those rare books that I was counting down the time until I would be able to read it again, and I stayed up to finish it. It’s hard to enthusiastically recommend a book that is so much about child abuse, but if you are a fan of thrillers that don’t shy away from darkness and violence, you won’t regret picking this up.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, violence, gore, murder, rape, child sexual abuse

Maggie reviews Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – The Lesbrary

Maggie reviews Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Content Warnings: Rape, kidnapping, physical violence

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a YA fantasy about Lei, a Paper Caste girl, who is forcefully taken from her family by the imperial guard in order to join the newest class of Paper Girls. Paper Girls are the most beautiful paper caste girls in the kingdom, chosen to serve the king as concubines for one year. Some of the girls are from the few influential paper caste families, offered to curry favor and bind their families closer to the power of the crown. Some of them are chosen from the country at large and either regard serving the king as an honor or believe the material benefits to themselves or their families are worth it. Lei, kept in line only through threats to her remaining family and already resentful of the imperial regime for previously abducting her mother, is caught between the rock of being forced to service the king when her mind and body revolt against the very idea and the hard place of the strict new realities of her life that she cannot escape.

Once in the palace, Lei struggles, not only with her lessons, but also with the company of the other girls. The noble girls not only have a head start on the knowledge and skills expected of a Paper Girl, but they’re not eager to include Lei in their social circles. They’re used to having maids and fancy clothes and performing courtly graces, and every time Lei struggles or makes a mistake, mockery and taunting is sure to follow. Some of the girls are also eager to be there, either from a desire to serve the king or for the status and benefits being Paper Girls will bring them and their families, motivations which Lei has trouble understanding. Lei becomes friendly with one of them, Aoki, but Lei constantly has to watch herself around her because Aoki is truly enamored of the idea of serving the king and won’t hear of Lei’s very real horror of the man. Being set adrift in a hostile environment would be tough enough, but Lei’s mental anguish at being used by the king is chilling. Paper Girls don’t have the ability to refuse to become Paper Girls, or to refuse a summons by the king when they’re in the Palace, so they don’t have the ability to truly consent, and Lei’s horror at her lack of agency causes her to panic and react in unpredictable ways. CONTENT WARNINGS: While this book does not depict the physical act of rape in lurid detail, it does occur and neither does it draw a curtain at the door to the king’s quarters. There’s physical violence, mental and physical intimidation, and general bad times along those lines.

Lei’s lack of agency is emblematic of the Paper Caste as a whole’s lack of agency. Despite the existence of a few high-status families at Court, as evidenced by some of the other Paper girls, most of the Paper caste is oppressed and taken advantage of by the Moon and Steel castes. What I really enjoyed about this novel besides the world-building was that Lei is actually a late addition to the plot to overthrow the King leading such a cruel system and make a better kingdom. They weren’t waiting for a prophecy or a chosen one, Lei’s violent yet inept rejection of her own fate literally bumbles into a well-laid and intricate conspiracy that is already in place and wasn’t looking for any other help. In fact, they would rather she just keep her head down and not mess them up, because she doesn’t have the training for this, which of course, Lei does not do. It’s an interesting change from the common Chosen One formula.

Also interesting is Wren, a fellow Paper Girl. Lei is fascinated by Wren, who is withdrawn but kind, unlike the other wealthy Paper Girls. Wren is a part of the resistance, trained from childhood and planted among the Paper Girls to gain access to the King. Wren also has to let herself be used, and she empathizes with Lei’s reactions. She alone among the resistance thinks that Lei should be included and possibly help them. Along the way, their relationship becomes physical as well as emotional, as they bond over the pressure cooker of their environment.

Girls of Paper and Fire is a great beginning to a series. The world-building is intricate and interesting, and it turns the Chosen One as Rebellion Figurehead trope on its head. Although there is lots of serious content, it handles it well, and the physical relationship between Wren and Lei mirrors the intense emotional pressures they both face. If you like fantasy YA series, you could do worse than look here.

Republican claims trans kids want to ‘sadistically harm girls’

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights (Getty/TOM WILLIAMS)

A Republican senator has claimed that transgender children play sports as part of a “deliberate, sadistic effort” to “harm girls.”

The claim comes from Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights who appears to be attempting to cast himself as a defender of women after a solid nine years in the Senate opposing their right to access reproductive healthcare or marry someone of the same sex.

Lee is among a group of Republican lawmakers behind the so-called Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, a bill that would revoke federal funding from schools that allow transgender girls to participate “in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls”.

The Orwellian bill defines sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth”, though it does not elaborate on how this will be determined – with similar state-level laws requiring genital exams in cases where an athlete’s sex is disputed.

Republican senator Mike Lee launches shocking attack on trans children

Speaking to the Deseret News, Lee claimed that “biological males might as a pretext use certain words in order to qualify themselves in girls and women’s athletics”, despite zero recorded cases of someone transitioning with the express intent of getting ahead in a professional sport, let alone at the high school level.

Without any evidence at all to back up his claims, he soldiered on: “Some of them might do it to win a prize or a trophy or scholarship.

“Others might do it just to prove that they can or for bragging rights. Others still might do it in a deliberate, sadistic effort to harm girls and women.”

Again, none of this has ever happened, apart from inside the head of a senator with an extensive history of cheering on anti-LGBT+ discrimination.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights
Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights (Getty/ANNA MONEYMAKER)

‘Defender of women’ is not so keen about them getting married or getting healthcare

Lee was previously behind an attempt to effectively erase civil rights protections for married gay and lesbian couples.

The GOP senator spearheaded efforts to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would have blocked the federal government from enforcing anti-discrimination protections or civil rights laws in cases where people acted based on “a sincerely held religious belief” in marriage.

He has also intervened in court battles over LGBT+ discrimination laws in the past, arguing that religious business owners have a right to discriminate on the well-trodden grounds of ‘religious freedom’ and ‘free speech’.

The newly-converted champion of women’s rights also has an extensive history of anti-abortion legislation, supporting moves to pull federal funding from women’s healthcare providers that offer reproductive healthcare.

The lawmaker has also sought to restrict minors’ access to abortion and ban the procedure after 20 weeks, suggesting women should be forced to remain pregnant aside from “in cases of rape, or cases of incest against a minor”.

This goes for bois / bi girls too of course : actuallesbians

This goes for bois / bi girls too of course

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Two girls kissing in 1942 : actuallesbians

Two girls kissing in 1942 : actuallesbians

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!