Transgender Rights Rally Draws Supporters to Bainbridge Church
October 17, 2021 by Kristin LeFeber

Transgender youth, especially girls, are under threat of losing the sports they love if a proposed bill in the Ohio House and Senate passes.

Transgender youth, especially girls, are under threat of losing the sports they love if a proposed bill in the Ohio House and Senate passes.

So, although the skies threatened rain Sunday afternoon, more than 100 people gathered in the parking lot of a Bainbridge Township church to rally for the rights of transgender youth in Ohio.

“(Our church) is all about being open and affirming with a special focus on the LGBTQ+ community. We are a Christian community that supports them,” said Brian Saxe, the pastor for Bainbridge Community United Church of Christ and the initiator of the rally Oct. 10.

There are currently proposed bills in both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate entitled, “Save Women’s Sports Act.” House Bill 61 and Senate Bill 132 state they would, “require schools, state institutions of higher education and private colleges to designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.”

“When I read the trans ban for youth sports, I said we need to do this,” Saxe continued, referring to the rally.

Other organizations present included Equality Ohio, LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County, Geauga SOGI Support Network and the Social Justice Advocacy Ministry of the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls.

Transgender youth who spoke at the rally are worried they will no longer be able to participate in the sports they are currently playing if the bill passes.

“People are trying to push me out of things I love,” said 12-year-old Bradie Anderson, who attends Shore Middle School in Mentor.

Ember Zelch, a junior at Chagrin Falls High School, said softball is a stress relief for her.

It is where she fits in and makes friends and she is terrified of that being taken away.

“My sense of self would be lost. All it is is someone who has a little bit more influence telling you you are not who you are,” she said.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has a transgender policy in place which allows students in Ember’s position to play.

It states, “before a transgender female can participate in a girl’s sport or on a girls’ team, she must either (1) have completed a minimum of one year of hormone treatment related to gender transition or (2) demonstrated to the executive director’s office by way of sound medical evidence that she does not possess physical (bone structure, muscle mass, testosterone, hormonal, etc.) or physiological advantages over genetic females of the same age group.”

Ember’s mother, Minna Zelch, also spoke at the rally. She and two other mothers of transgender children relayed their emotional experiences in front of the supportive crowd.

“The current policy is clearly working if only 11 transgender girls have been approved to play in the past six years,” she said. “The proposed laws could cause irreparable harm to both trans students, male and female, and cis gender females by limiting their opportunities and allowing witch hunts. If legislators really want to save women’s sports, then they should address the fact that many girls teams in the state play on poorer quality fields and with poorer equipment than their male counterparts.”

At the conclusion of the hour-long rally, and just as the sun came out, attendees were encouraged to write letters and postcards to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and House District 76 Rep. Diane Grendell. Materials and writing stations were provided so that those who wanted to could immediately.

“Ohio deserves better than to have politicians who want to pick on people to score points,” said Saxe said. “From a ministry perspective, Jesus is all about speaking for the powerless and helping people find their power. The great commandment is to love your neighbor. Kicking kids off sports teams doesn’t sound loving.”