Imagine training as a female track athlete for years in middle school and high school, reaching the heights of your potential at a championship meet, only to lose to a biological male who “identifies” as female.
What’s the young woman’s redress for this blatant unfairness?
In some of the states where this has been an issue, legislatures have sought to implement laws to protect biological girls and young women.
Even as the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the pro-LGBT Equality Act, states have been enacting measures to enable females to continue to enjoy fair athletic competition and to compete only against other females.
According to Save Women’s Sports, an organization that advocates for girls and women and for fair play in sports, there are more than two dozen states currently considering laws to protect women’s sports.
The Florida Legislature’s House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee on Wednesday voted 13-4 to approve the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
“The act is pro-women and pro-girls, and only acknowledges the biological differences between men and women,” said state Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, on March 11 signed into law a bill that makes clear that “students of the male sex” will not be allowed to play on “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women or girls.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, also a Republican, as recently as March 8 said she intended to sign a similar bill, HB 1217, that the state Legislature sent to her desk March 10. But The Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday reported that Noem was wavering in her support for the bill in the face of opposition from big business and other special interests, and later sent it back to the Legislature.
Headlines on news stories on the subject in national and even local news media often frame the issue in ways that suggest that these laws are discriminatory.
- The BBC: “Mississippi bans trans girls from girls’ school sports.”
- USA Today: “Mississippi governor signs bill banning transgender athletes from women’s school sports.”
- KMBC-TV: “Proposal to ban transgender athletes advances in Kansas.”
When that’s how the issue is portrayed—that trans “girls” are being banned from playing against biological girls—it muddies the real issue and is a poor representation of what’s actually happening. Transgender “females” are being banned from participating in girls sports, but they never should have been allowed to participate in the first place.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll, released March 10, showed that position is widely held. Among 1,990 registered voters who were surveyed, 53% supported prohibiting transgender “women” from female athletics, while just 32% were opposed to banning them.
A 2019 Rasmussen Reports poll similarly found 51% of American adults opposed allowing transgender students to “participate on the sports teams of the gender they identify with,” as opposed to their biological sex, and only 29% of adults supported allowing biologically male trans athletes to compete against girls based on their gender identity.
As such, it’s hard to fathom why these state bans have become so controversial, particularly when the number of transgender “females” is minuscule and the number who are athletes is even smaller.
That doesn’t mean girls sports aren’t worth fighting for through legislation or other means. To the contrary, it’s imperative, given that the trans athletes have the support of influential LGBTQ organizations and much of the mainstream media, even though that doesn’t align with the majority of Americans’ views.
It’s not just about running track, or girls being able to take home a medal, finally achieving success after years of training. The issue is about protecting females and their right to fair play, protecting the advances they’ve made.
And ultimately, it’s about acknowledging inherent biological and physiological differences between the two genders that make them separate and wonderful, with distinct advantages and disadvantages in the realm of sports.
This commentary has been updated to reflect developments in South Dakota.
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