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Bill Introduced In PA To Ban Transgender Girls From Girl Sports Is ‘Not Based In Any Science’

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today's program: A medical doctor explains the process of transitioning for transgender kids, and why a bill to ban transgender girls from playing sports with teams that match their gender identity is harmful; the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan says more than half of the Commonwealth resides in a childcare desert, which one advocate says was a problem pre-pandemic; and state Republicans may be preparing to enact voting restrictions as they complain the state Supreme Court wrongly interfered in the 2020 election.

One doctor explains why a proposed bill is harmful to trans youth
(0:00 — 6:51)

Last week, five Republican state lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent transgender girls from competing in sports at the high school and collegiate levels in Pennsylvania.

“Biological males inherently have differences that give them a competitive edge,” said state Rep. Barb Gleim of Cumberland County on a podcast while explaining her bill.

Gleim and the four co-sponsors say transgender girls have an unfair advantage over cisgender girls.

“If that was true, then we would have trans women winning and excelling in all of these areas and arenas, and that is not the case,” says Dr. Tamar Carmel. He’s the medical director of mental health at the Central Outreach Wellness Center, which specializes in supporting the LGBTQ community, among others.

Carmel says there are trans-inclusive policies in other sports, even at the Olympic level, but few transgender women athletes.

“I think that more often than not, I have seen that trans individuals have avoided sports because of the gendered nature of it,” says Carmel. “Fear of harassment, fear of verbal abuse, physical abuse and bullying… And this legislation shows us that those fears are completely based in reality.”

Carmel explains that some trans youth will avoid sports because they haven’t yet transitioned, or aren’t out. He says the process of transitioning is different for all transgender people.

“Some people choose to solely socially transition, other people choose to medically transition with the use of hormone blockers or gender-affirming hormone therapy, and there are other individuals who may or may not decide to pursue gender affirming surgeries as well,” says Carmel.

Trans youth, he says, generally take hormone blockers to “block the body’s innate puberty,” and then at the age of consent, they can decide if pursuing gender affirming hormone therapies is right for them.

“There are so many aspects of society that tell trans individuals and especially trans youth that they are other, and that’s just not true. Transness is a normal variant of human behavior and human experience.”

More than half of Pennsylvanians live in a child care desert
(6:55 — 12:53)

On Monday, the Biden Administration released fact sheets on all 50 states that graded their infrastructure. Pennsylvania received a C minus. The fact sheet included information about roads, housing, and broadband, but it also included child care access.

According to the White House, 57% of Pennsylvanians live in a child care desert.

“What mostly comes to mind is when we see the demand for child care exceeding the supply,” says Kari King, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Rural residents, King explains, may literally live too far from any child care providers, while those in urban and suburban areas may live near providers, but they are at capacity.

King says Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children pays particular attention to those eligible for the Child Care Works program, a government subsidy that helps low-income families pay for high-quality child care.

“76% of kids are currently unserved in the Child Care Works program for eligible families [in Allegheny County],” says King.

She says even pre-pandemic, the child care industry was on tenuous ground.

“Before the pandemic, the state had about 8,000 regulated child care providers. Right now we stand at about just around 6,900,” says King. She adds that 86% of child care providers also closed temporarily since the start of the pandemic.

“I truly think the part of the [Biden] infrastructure plan around child care is certainly part of the solution, and addressing some of the workforce issues is certainly one of the next steps,” says King.

GOP lawmakers continue to insist there was improper court interference in 2020 election
(12:58 — 18:00)

Some Republican state lawmakers are holding tight to their view that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court improperly interfered in the 2020 election. But, several court watchers dismiss such beliefs as the General Assembly may be gearing up to implement more restrictions on voting.

WITF's Sam Dunklau takes a look at the tension between the legislative and judicial branches.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Isabelle is a student at George Washington University studying Political Communication. She loves all things Pittsburgh sports and serves as a sports anchor for GW-TV. In her free time, she enjoys museum hopping and walking her dog, Stevie.
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