Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Anti-Trans Sports Bill Despite Heartfelt Pleas

Feb 10, 2022 at 4:22 pm
Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Anti-Trans Sports Bill Despite Heartfelt Pleas

Before state lawmakers advanced a bill that would ban transgender girls from being able to play on “girls” sports teams on Thursday, they heard from two young people it would directly affect and their families.

One eighth grade transgender girl, Fischer Wells, who spearheaded getting the minimum number of players together for a girls field hockey team at her school said that “it’s disgusting that this bill is even suggested.”

“I really don’t want this bill to pass, because I really want to play and it will be extremely detrimental to my mental health, as well, because, I know sports is a great way for me to cope with things,” she said into the microphone, sitting next to her parents, in the crowded room.

Shortly after her testimony, Senate Bill 83, which would amend an existing law to add that “an athletic activity or sport designated as ‘girls’ shall not be open to members of the male sex,” passed 9-3 out of the Senate Education Committee. The bill — which would affect elementary, middle school and high school sports — would require sports teams to be designated as “boys,” “girls” or “coed.” The bill also says that any student would still be able to participate in sports designated as “boys” or “coed.”

trans sports bill
Screenshot via KET Legislative Coverage

The sponsor of SB 83, Sen. Robby Mills, a republican from Henderson, said that discrimination was not the intent of the bill, rather he believes that “we’re looking at the situation because of the biological advantage that males have over females.”

Sen. Reginald Thomas, a Democrat from Lexington, asked Mills if he was aware of any issues or disputes concerning transgender students and sports occurring in Kentucky.  

Mills said he was not aware of any issues, and he see his bill as “forward-thinking,” and that he heard concerns from some Kentuckians. 

“We go to conferences every year and learn about trends and how we an address issues that are headed our states way,” Mills said. “We are encouraged to think ahead based on other states experiences. Senate Bill 83 is thinking ahead.”

In 2021, the AP reported that more than 20 states introduced bills that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls sports teams, but that sponsoring lawmakers struggled to provide local examples to support their claims.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association currently allows transgender girls to compete in “girls” sports if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, South Dakota became the first state of 2022 to send anti-transgender legislation to a governor’s desk. The Human Rights Campaign also shared audio of the South Dakota governor’s chief of staff comparing transgender children to terrorists.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said that if SB 83 would pass, it would harm the “most vulnerable transgender kids.”

“If you do pass this bill, the people that you will harm are our youngest and most vulnerable transgender kids — middle schoolers who do not deserve this level of unfair scrutiny and debate over whether or not they should be able to play with their friends and be included in school life,” Hartman told the committee before they advanced the bill. 

Senate Bill 83 will now go to the full Senate. 

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