Transgender dooms girls’ sports? MN pioneer says relax

It’s unlikely that Minnesotans who are hyperventilating over a proposed policy on transgender athletes in Minnesota schools will be swayed by facts, but the first woman to play on a boy’s sports team in the state is taking a shot at it anyway.

Peggy Brenden, who played on the tennis team at St. Cloud Tech, has been through this before, she says of the lobbying ads from the Child Protection League, which has mobilized against the draft proposal from the Minnesota State High School League to allow transgender athletes to participate in high school sports. The MSHSL will consider the rule again tomorrow after already putting off a vote a few times.

The Child Protection League first said the rule will require transgender athletes “to take showers with your daughter,” and, in its latest ad, that it’ll lead to “your daughter” losing her shot at a scholarship. Always with the daughters.


“The question I ask is: Is the transgender participation issue really any different from the opposite-gender teammate issue the court addressed back in 1972?” Brenden writes in today’s Star Tribune. Problems of privacy and showering were cited as reasons back then not to allow her to play.

“The only change observable in the psyche of my male teammates and opponents was their heightened desire not to be beaten by a girl,” she adds. “If anything, I inspired those guys to perform at their absolute best!”

And, she hints, your daughter wasn’t going to get a scholarship anyway.

The prospect of losing a college scholarship to a transgender student is no reason to exclude a transgender athlete. The CPLA ad displayed a picture of a girl whose dream of a college scholarship was ostensibly “shattered” because a male took her position on an all-girl team.

But the vast majority of students who fall under the jurisdiction of the league are not participating in sports because it enhances their prospects of winning a scholarship or turning pro. (If that is their goal, most high school athletes are destined for disappointment, because roughly 2 percent of them win sports scholarships at NCAA colleges or universities.)

Many of the points being raised in this debate were dismissed in 1972 by Judge Miles Lord.

Brought to its base, then, Peggy Brenden and Tony St. Pierre are being prevented from participating on the boys’ interscholastic teams in tennis, cross-country, and cross-country skiing solely on the basis of the fact of sex and sex alone.

The Court is thus of the opinion that in these factual circumstances, the application of the League rules to Peggy Brenden and Tony St. Pierre is arbitrary and unreasonable, in violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment.

For this reason, the application of the rule to these two girls cannot stand. The Court is therefore of the opinion that Peggy Brenden should be allowed to compete on the boys’ interscholastic tennis team at St. Cloud Technical High School for the remainder of the current school year and that Tony St. Pierre be allowed to compete on the Hopkins Eisenhower interscholastic cross-country and cross-country skiing teams for the school year 1972-73.

Brenden turned out OK. She’s a lawyer and judge now.

Related: Minn. could allow transgender athletes to pick team that suits them (Minnesota Public Radio News).