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What It's Like To Be a Trans Female Athlete Who's Not Very Good at Sports
EPISODE 7: Meet the most controversial backup catcher in America — and her boa constrictors.
If you watch cable news, or listen to people running for president, or go on Twitter, the most important story in all of sports is abundantly clear:
Trans female athletes are so physically dominant that they are stealing our daughters’ scholarships and opportunities and awards.
And this fear — most famously inspired by Lia Thomas, the nationally ranked trans female swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania — might be the most persuasive anti-trans argument in America.
It’s why the U.S. House of Representatives acted as if addressing an epidemic, passing a federal bill in April that mirrors laws successfully passed by 23 states, all of which ban trans girls from playing and competing with girls.
It’s also why even more states, like Ohio, are trying to enact such laws right now, as I type. In June, Ohio’s House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban trans female athletes as early as kindergarten.
(Check out this piece, by the indispensable Katie Barnes, for a legislative survey.)
But something the vast majority of Americans don’t understand is precisely how few trans girls — let alone trans girls playing sports — there actually are. Because when Ohio initially tried passing this legislation, for instance, there was literally one trans girl playing varsity sports. In the entire state.
And this one athlete was a high-school softball player, a catcher, named Ember Zelch.
But I had never once heard about Ember from any politician, or Fox News, or Twitter.
Which is why, for today’s show, I decided to travel to Northeast Ohio to go scout the trans girl who’s too good at softball. So good, in fact, that her own representatives are trying to pass laws that would finally ban her from playing it.
And I found out what it’s like to be the opposite of the boogeyman you’re supposed to be.