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Transgender teen to play on Azusa High's girls' softball team

Laws and LegislationSocial IssuesSportsCrime, Law and JusticePoliticsJerry Brown

A senior at Azusa High School will be the first transgender student to play on the girls' varsity softball team, school officials said Friday.

Patrick Cordova-Goff, 17, who goes by Pat, is a member of the cheer squad and student body president. She could also be the state's first transgender student to play softball at a high school.

Pat, who played baseball in her freshman year, began trying out for the softball team two weeks ago, said Azusa Unified School District Supt. Linda Kaminski. 

The transgender teen learned she made the softball team when high school officials posted tryout results Thursday, Kaminski said.

The first game is scheduled March 5 at the school.

“The softball team is practicing and focusing on their upcoming season,” Kaminski said. “Coaches from nearby districts are positive about the upcoming games.”

Kaminski said only a few people have expressed concern about the school’s decision to let a transgender student play on the girls’ softball team.

“But when they hear how we are addressing their concern, they are understanding,” Kaminski said.

Pat's path to making history in her district, perhaps the state, was paved by two major events.

One of them was California AB 1266. The state law--signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last August--prohibits public schools from “discriminating on the basis of specified characteristics, including gender, gender identity and expression,” the bill reads.

The law also allows students to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, such as athletic teams and competitions.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs school sports, took action and amended its Constitution and Bylaws to include new guidelines for transgender students participating in high school sports.

The new rule states that all students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records.

The bylaw went into effect beginning the 2013-14 school year, according to CIF-SS Communications Director Thom Simmons.  

CIF officials said they did not know whether Pat was the first transgender student in the state to play on a girls' softball team.

“No appeals have been filed in the CIF Southern Section or any other sections across the state to my knowledge,” Simmons said.

No student or school has sought assistance from the CIF’s Gender Identity Eligibility Committee, which looks at whether a transgender student is eligible to play in a sport or not, officials said.   

Pat, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and founded Azusa’s Gay-Straight Alliance, a high school club advocating transgender student rights, is just one of many students across the country driving cultural change.

Last year, in Huntington Beach, Cassidy Campbell ran a successful campaign to become Marina High School’s first transgender homecoming queen.

“I’m doing this for the kids who can’t be themselves,” Cassidy told The Times.  

That same year, Pat also sought a bid for homecoming queen, but she did not win, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.  The paper was the first to report on her softball tryout.

Last month, Maine’s highest court ruled that school officials violated state anti-discrimination law when they denied a transgender fifth-grader use of the girls’ bathroom. The girl's parents  and human rights activists sued school officials in 2009.

“What’s encouraging is that there’s a growing trend of schools supporting transgender students living in the appropriate gender that they identify with,” said Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.

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