RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republicans in the General Assembly are seeking to block transgender female athletes from competing on female school sports teams, as part of a series of bills filed this week impacting transgender youth.
Titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” the bill says that sports designated for one sex are not open to students of another sex. In addition, it reads, “a student’s sex shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
“Why are we putting women’s sports under attack? This bill is not against anybody, but it is for all women,” said Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell. “When we talk about men identifying as a woman, we so hear about how we are accommodating their feeling, but there is a big part missing from that conversation. What about the women?”
There are 20 states with similar requirements in place, according to the Associated Press. However, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to intervene in an ongoing case involving a law in West Virginia, meaning transgender athletes can continue playing on female sports teams.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association allows student athletes to play based on their gender identity. The agency’s website outlines a process for student eligibility, that includes providing documentation from a healthcare professional and a list of treatments and medications a student takes.
Lawmakers cited an incident last fall in western North Carolina when a transgender athlete reportedly spiked a volleyball that hit a female, causing long-term concussion symptoms.
Former UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell spoke in favor of the legislation as did former high school volleyball coach Sherry Norris.
“The purpose of Title IX was to make sports fair and equal. Females having to compete against transgenders is not fair and equal. Is there a place for transgenders in sports? Yes, there is. But, it’s a separate category,” said Hatchell.
The way the bill is currently drafted, it would block girls from playing on football teams as well. Sawyer said that was not the intent of the bill and would be addressed.
“I think it’s a message of intimidation, and it’s also bullying. They are trying to basically take away spaces for transgender athletes to compete,” said Allison Scott, director of impact and innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality. “I can tell you as a transgender woman, I have never had superhuman abilities.”
In addition to the legislation related to sports, Republicans also filed bills this week limiting gender-affirming care for minors. The Youth Health Protection Act would prohibit certain medical procedures and use of hormones. Another bill would put limits on gender transition procedures for minors, including requiring six months of appointments with a pediatric psychiatrist before performing a procedure.
“This is actually a national push by the far right who are trying to play doctor and actually get involved in families’ lives,” said Scott. “People pushing these bills think there won’t be any repercussions. But, North Carolinians don’t want this. They want their legislators working on real problems like potholes and taxes.”
The bills were filed just as Republicans gained a veto-proof supermajority in the state House of Representatives. Rep. Tricia Cotham, formerly a Democrat, announced this week she’s changing parties and joining the Republicans.