The debate over whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete based on their gender identity or their biology has come to a head. As more and more states pass laws banning transgender athletes from joining sports teams that are comprised of members of the opposite sex, new rulings preventing biological males from competing in women’s swimming competitions and on female rugby teams have supported these measures. Now one state’s latest transgender athlete legislation is being questioned for a clause that may require students to receive a genital inspection if their biology is contested.
Ohio HB151 is newly passed legislation which requires students to play on sports teams based on their biological sex instead of the gender they prefer. Like many similar bills, it clearly states that separate teams formed for males and females are to serve those based on what they were born as. It also details how violations will be addressed, but the main section being criticized determines that should a student’s sex be questioned, they must receive an examination from a doctor and retain the physician’s note confirming the correct biological information. This examination is being deemed a “genital inspection,” being that hormone levels, genetic makeup, and “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” must be reviewed.
While many students mainly wish to ensure that competitions remain fair, subjecting children to a health care provider initiated genital inspection is being seen as intrusive. The State Senate President Matt Huffman admitted that this portion of the bill goes too far and will likely be removed or updated to reflect a more reasonable requirement. He favors a DNA test to invasive genital inspections along with other supporters who wish to protect the rights of biological females in sports.
This news comes just after three major female sports received a complete overhaul to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. On June 20th the governing body representing World swimming updated its “gender inclusion policy” to only allow children who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete against those of the opposite sex and also proposed opening a 3rd category for athletes who do not wish to compete based on their biology. Whether swimmers will have to undergo some form of medical genital inspection is unknown, but following this move transgender individuals have also been banned from competing in international women’s rugby matches. This ban will start in October.
In April a transgender cyclist was disqualified from a women’s British cycling competition after competitors threatened to boycott due to the unfair advantages that biological males who identify as females have over women. Just last week the union Cycliste International doubled the time a trans rider must wait before competing as the opposite sex. Instead of receiving testosterone blockers for at least 12 months, competitors must wait 24 months. Because hormone levels are the defining criteria in this sport, a genital inspection won’t be necessary no matter how much bigger trans women may be than biological women, or the fact that their bone density tends to be thicker.
Although many are celebrating new moves to protect the rights of biological female athletes, genital inspections are not as highly supported. The main goal is to ensure that fair play is preserved for everyone involved. The Ohio bill cannot move forward without Senate support and until the section in question is updated, it remains in limbo.