Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley believes that the biggest issue for women right now is transgender girls playing girls’ sports.
During a CNN town hall on Sunday, Haley blasted the idea of letting trans girls play on girls’ teams and grossly blamed inclusive sports policies for the high number of teenage girls who considered suicide last year.
“How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year?”
Haley’s comments are both offensive and factually incorrect. It has been scientifically proven that trans women and girls do not have a biological advantage over cisgender women and girls. Athletic ability varies from person to person, no matter their gender.
Haley also insists that girls need to be protected, a common argument among Republicans. Many of the laws banning trans people from playing on teams that match their gender identity do not address trans boys. This implies that cis women are weak and need extra protection, while also pushing the dangerous stereotype that trans women and girls are really just sexual predators. In reality, trans people—both men and women—are four times more likely than cis people to experience violent assault, including sexual violence.
While Haley was mostly correct that a third of teenage girls have considered suicide (the study was for 2021, not 2022), she vastly oversimplified and wrongly attributed the reason. The authors of the study, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not cite any one reason for the spike in suicidal ideation among girls. But they said that Covid-19 may have increased people’s anxiety and sense of isolation.
The study also found that teen girls of color were more likely to consider suicide than white girls, and LGBTQ girls were more likely to consider suicide than heterosexual ones. Other studies have found that girls are experiencing increased rates of bullying, threats of sexual violence, actual sexual violence, and anxiety from social issues. So if anything, stances like Haley’s could actually increase rates of suicidal thoughts among teenage girls, because they make trans girls feel alone.