Lawmakers at the Kentucky House of Representatives have passed a bill that seeks to prevent transgendered individuals from playing in school sports events that do not align with their biological sex.
The bill, SB83, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” argues that any athletic activity or sports designated for “girls” in grades six through 12 shall not be open to members of the male sex.
“The sex of a student for the purpose of determining eligibility to participate in an athletic activity or sport shall be determined by a student’s biological sex as indicated on the student’s certified birth certificate as originally issued at the time of birth or adoption by the Kentucky Vital Statistics Branch or the state registrar or agency of another state charged with the issuance of vital records,” the bill states (pdf).
Therefore, even if a transgender individual has an amended birth certificate, they still would not be allowed to compete in girls’ sports events.
Several groups have come forward to criticize the legislation. The bill is a “solution in search of a non-existent problem,” Samuel Crankshaw, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, Kentucky, said in a March 17 press release.
Should the bill become law, it will “jeopardize our children’s mental health, physical well-being, and ability to access educational opportunities comparable to their peers,” he stated while asking state Governor Andy Beshear to veto the “hateful, unconstitutional legislation.”
The Kentucky Senate had passed the SB83 bill in a 27–8 vote in February. The House passed the SB83 bill with a vote of 70-23 on March 17. As the bill was amended in the House, it will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.
While presenting the bill at the Senate floor, sponsor state Senator Robby Mills, a Republican, had highlighted the differences between biological males and females to support his case.
“An Australian study showed that a 9-year-old male was faster on short sprints by 9.8 percent, and in a mile run by 16.6 percent,” Mills said. “Male athletes still have advantages even after testosterone suppression. Hormone therapy in males after puberty does not substantially eliminate the male athletic advantage.”
Women’s groups have earlier opposed allowing biological males to compete in female sports. A group of 16 members of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team and their family members issued a letter to the university and Ivy League in February, asking that they refrain from any litigation to allow transgender teammate Lia Thomas from taking part in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) events.
Biologically, Thomas has an “unfair advantage” in the competition, the letter argued while pointing out that the individual’s ranking had risen from 462 while as a male to number one as a female. If allowed to compete against girls, Thomas can potentially break “Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s swimming records,” something Thomas could have never done as a male.
“We have trained up to 20 hours a week, swimming miles, running, and lifting weights. To be sidelined or beaten by someone competing with the strength, height, and lung capacity advantages that can only come with male puberty has been exceedingly difficult,” the letter said.
Thomas eventually took part in the NCAA swimming championship under the female category, winning the 500-yard freestyle competition by beating the second-placed winner by around 1.5 seconds.