A Democratic state lawmaker in Alabama championed transgender student athletes last week. But he later revealed that he doesn’t actually know what “transgender” means and supports DNA testing of athletes to determine their sex.
John Rogers spoke out against the Gender is Real Legislative Act during a hearing on Thursday at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery. The Republican-backed bill would ban students in state public schools from competing in gender-specific sports that do not match their biological sex.
In a bizarre argument against the GIRL Act, Rogers claimed to know of “about 20 football players who are transgender.”
“Matter of fact, my favorite player is transgender,” Rogers said, adding that the athlete was about to be cut because of his gender identity. “He plays pretty good football.”
When a woman who spoke against the bill at the hearing asked whom Rogers was referring to, he said, “I don’t recall his name.”
The legislation, HB 35, which opposed by all five speakers on the day, failed to advance out of the committee. But its sponsor, Republican state representative Chris Pringle, expressed confidence that would be passed in the coming weeks.
John Rogers defines “transgender”
In a phone interview with Pluralist on Monday, Rogers, 79, reiterated what hetold Alabama’s Yellowhammer News after Thursday’s hearing. He said the “favorite player” he cited was Cam Newton, a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, who issaid to beleaving the team.
According to Yellowhammer, Rogers told their reporter that he meant to say Newton is gay as opposed to transgender.
However, when questioned by Pluralist, Rogers offered a different explanation. He said his point was that “a lot of people in the NFL have accused Cam Newton and other players of being that” — not that he definitely knew them to be transgender.
“I brought him up because there are a lot of insinuations about a lot of people who play athletics, whether they are transgender or not, and you never know,” he said. “Why would you point at someone if you don’t know and no test has been done?”
Newton, who recently had a baby with his longtime girlfriend, is not thought to be either transgender or gay.
Rogers seemed to understand “gay” to be an umbrella term, like “queer” or “LGBT,” an alphabetism that he struggled to remember.
Asked how he defines transgenderism in particular, Rogers described something like intersexuality, the term LGBT media watchdog GLAADprefers to “hermaphrodite,” which it deems “derogatory.”
“When you’re born, sometimes people are born a hermaphrodite,” Rogers said. “They’re born as a boy but they have other chromosomes of a girl, or they’re born as a girl but they have other chromosomes of a boy. Sometimes, the gender doesn’t take effect until later in life. That’s science. It’s x and y chromosomes.”
Rogers said he opposes the GIRL Act because it a “mean-spirited, ridiculous bill” that “singles out” homosexuals and “hermaphrodites.”
DNA tests for transgender students?
Pluralist explained that the legislation has nothing to do with those groups and that transgender people by definition identify as a gender other than their biological sex. With that in mind, Pluralist asked Rogers how he would determine who can compete in gender-specific school sports.
Rogers went on to advocate an even more hardline conservative policy than his Republican colleagues. He said that student athletes should undergo genetic testing to determine whether they or male or female. In cases of transgender students, or as he called them “hermaphrodites,” he said their sex should be defined by whichever set of chromosomes they had more of.
“You need to get medical proof of what they really are: a boy or a girl. They need to have more x chromosomes than y chromosomes, which gender is prominent,” he said. “Go with the test. Go with the biology.”
When it comes to assigning athletes to sports teams, Rogers said: “If a person ends up being male, they can compete as male, and if they end up being a female they can compete as female.”
Roger’s view of a gender binary defined by biology is directly at odds with the ideology of transgender rights. As reflected in GLAAD’stransgender guidelines, the movement has sought to privilege gender identity over biological sex.
It’s hard to get “woke”
This would not be the first time Rogers, who has represented Alabama House District 50 since 1982, has seemed confused about why he supports an article of progressive orthodoxy.
Last year during the debate over an abortion ban that passed the legislature, Rogers protested the law by saying: “Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now, or you kill them later.”
“You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved,” he continued. “You send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now, or you kill them later.”
Rogerslater explained to AL.com that he is a Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion. But he defers to his “pro-choice” district, which includes parts of Birmingham.
“I can’t put my beliefs above the people in my district. I can’t run on my religion. I run on what the people believe, and they believe in pro-choice,” he said.
Regarding the GIRL Act, Rogers told Yellowhammer that his constituents wanted him to “kill the bill,” so he drove “100 miles per hour” to get to the hearing.