utah house moves forward with bill to ban transgender athletes in school sports

The Utah State House of Representatives committee proposed a bill on Thursday to ban biological boys from competing on female sports teams in the state’s public and private K-12 schools.

The state Rep. Kera Birkeland introduced the bill H.B.302, titled Preserving Sports for Female Students, which passed on an 8-6 vote.

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The bill defines sex as the biological, physical condition of being male or female, determined by an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth.

Knowing this, the bill would additionally forbid biological males from competing in female sports, regardless of their gender identity. The bill will subsequently move to a full House vote.

Arguments

Rep. Birkeland, who is also a junior varsity high school basketball coach, claimed:

“Across America, there are stories of individuals who identified as male at birth competing against our female athletes. These individuals who identify as male at birth are breaking records that no female will be able to reach. They’re taking championships, titles, and scholarships from our female athletes. To say it’s taking a toll on our female athletes would be an understatement.”

Birkeland believed that this bill will help with promoting fairness in sports.

The Pushback

However, things didn’t run smoothly all the way.

There were some pushbacks from M.D. Jennifer Plumb, a pediatrician, and public health advocate.

She noted:

“We hear that there is not one transgender athlete playing right now in our state schools. I’ll tell you what we have had: between 2017 and 2019, we had 414 young Utahns kill themselves. We need to think about what we’re doing here when we put bills in place that already take a vulnerable population and say they do not matter. Please support our kids. This is a problem that does not exist.”

Dr. Plumb believed that this bill would be an unwise move, as the state faces a high rate of youth suicides.

Further Intentions

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) recently revealed their strategy to go after states that ban transgender individuals from taking part in school sports.

There was a discussion on Twitter, in which the ACLU attempted to break several alleged ‘myths’ about trans athletes.

First of all, they tried to explain why there is no point to think that trans athletes have an unfair advantage in sports.

They claimed:

“Trans athletes do not have an unfair advantage in sports. Trans athletes vary in athletic ability just like cisgender athletes. In many states, the very same cis girls who have claimed that trans athletes have an ‘unfair’ advantage have consistently performed as well as or better than transgender competitors.”

The other topic revolved around finding arguments to deny why allowing biological men to compete against women could be dangerous.

“Including trans athletes will benefit everyone. Far worse, would be to exclude trans women from women’s sports because it would hurt all women. It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests and accusations of being ‘too masculine’ or ‘too good’ at their sport to be a ‘real’ woman.”

Is this a problem that doesn’t exist, as Dr. Plumb claimed before?

The controversial debate about transgender women in sports is also raging on the federal level. Moreover, it is expected to heat up under the Biden administration.