There are at least twenty bills moving through state legislatures that seek to ban transgender athletes from participating in interscholastic sports. Those bills inevitably framed as to ‘protect’ girls don’t. They must be written in such a way to discriminate against every girl trans or not, to do otherwise would be blatantly unconstitutional.
Legislators can’t name a single trans athlete in their state but say discrimination should be codified “just in case”.
The AP reports that legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case legislators can’t cite an instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.
In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel.”
In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.”
Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls.
“When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls.
One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller — the faster of the two trans sprinters — in their final two races in February 2020.
The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation, and a playbook to promote the bills, most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act.
When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind.