Critics and supporters of a bill that would ban transgender female students from participating on many school sports teams based on gender identity delivered testimony before a S.C. House subcommittee on Tuesday.
Without the bill, supporters predicted the demise of women’s sports. The bill’s opponents said the proposal was unenforceable and fans flames of transphobia and anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
The chief sponsor of HB.3477, Republican S.C. Rep. Ashley Trantham, R-Pelzer, said the proposal aims to preserve an even playing field for young women seeking recognition for athletic achievement.
Trantham’s “Save Women’s Sports Act” stems from a 2016 rule by the South Carolina High School League that allows transgender students to participate in sports based on their gender identity. Trantham introduced testimony Tuesday, saying, “This harmful policy would steal opportunities for girls and women.”
Trantham’s bill, one of several like it being proposed nationwide, requires teams to be designated “based on biological sex,” and stipulates women’s teams “may not be open to students of the male sex.”
Supporters of the bill included former high school athletes and parents who echoed Trantham, arguing it would be unfair for cisgender females, whose gender identity corresponds with their sex at birth, to compete against transgender female students.
Calling the bill discriminatory, opponents of the bill included medical doctors and LGBTQ advocates, who said fears over an unequal playing environment are unfounded.
“This bill is unnecessary,” said Chase Glenn, executive director of the Charleston-based Alliance for Full Acceptance. “Transgender people do not have an inherent advantage in sports by virtue of their transition. In reality, transgender women and girls compete at levels similar to all women. No female transgender athlete has qualified for the Olympics, despite rules permitting participation that have been in place for more than a decade.”
Trantham said no incidents of trans students participating on high school girls sports teams have been reported in South Carolina.
Charleston-area Democratic state Rep. Spencer Wetmore was the only legislator present who raised questions Tuesday, posing queries about how the bill would be enforced.