A male California high school senior who played on the boys baseball team as a freshman will now play on the girls softball team.
The student, Pat Cordova-Goff, attends Azusa High School in the northeastern corner of the suburban sprawl of Los Angeles.
Cordova-Goff (who was also a cheerleader at some point) will be the California’s first transgender high school student-athlete, reports The San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The strapping, broad-shouldered, 5-foot-8 senior is able to play for the Azusa High Aztecs under a new state law commonly known as Assembly Bill 1266. The amendment to the state’s education code stipulates that each student will have access to facilities, sports teams, and programs that are “consistent with his or her gender identity,” rather than the student’s actual biological composition. (RELATED: Calif. governor signs transgender students’ rights bill)
Cordova-Goff, 17, was born a boy — and, by all accounts, remains a boy — but now identifies as a girl. He has undergone no surgical procedures or treatments.
“I can’t afford a wardrobe and makeup and everything, so I don’t have the resources to express myself the way I want to,” Cordova-Goff told the Valley Tribune. “I’m really pushing myself to be myself, and I finally have started going by ‘Pat,’ started using ‘she’ and ‘hers.'”
Under California Interscholastic Federation guidelines that took effect in September, that’s enough to allow Cordova-Goff to try out for and make the girls softball team.
Local high school softball coaches don’t seem too concerned about Cordova-Goff’s inclusion on the Azusa High softball team.
“There is no issue for me,” said West Covina softball coach Jesse Mendez said. “Could there be a competitive advantage? Sure, but softball is a pretty skillful game.”
The coach at Charter Oak High School, Scott Higuera, opined that rules are rules.
“I’m fine with it as long as it’s within the rules,” Higuera said. “The bottom line is, you have to play the game, and softball is very competitive.”
The Valley Tribune also notes that anonymous local sources suspect that politics played a role when Cordova-Goff made the final roster cut.
However, Linda Kaminski, the superintendent of the Azusa Unified School District, was adamant that merit was the only factor.
An unidentified teacher emailed the Valley Tribune alleging that Kaminski and a lawyer participated in decisions about the softball roster. Kaminski called this claim untrue.
“Based on her skills, Pat did make the team,” Kaminski told the local newspaper.
Whatever the case, there was allegedly a one-day delay between the time the roster was supposed to be posted and the time it was actually posted. During that time, meetings occurred between school officials and school district officials. The content of those meetings is unclear.
Assembly Bill 1266 is a contentious issue across California. It’s not clear if the law will be implemented on Jan. 1. California conservatives say they’ve collected enough signatures to force a ballot initiative in November 2014. (RELATED: DEMOCRACY NOW! California’s choose-your-own locker room law faces ballot drive)
While The Golden State’s high schools are a new frontier for transgender athletes, the state’s college sports scene has already experienced the phenomenon.
Gabrielle Ludwig is a 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound center on the women’s basketball team at Mission College, a community college in Santa Clara. Ludwig, 51, had been a man less than a year before she joined the team. As Robert John Ludwig, the quinquagenarian had also been a collegiate hoopster over three decades ago at a Long Island community college. (RELATED: Californian becomes first college basketball player to start with and without penis)