NCAA Trans Swimmer’s State Wants To Pass Bill Targeting Transgender Athletes

Another state is looking to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports following a big win for transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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transgender athletes

No matter what side you stand on, there is always going to be debate concerning transgender athletes. And that great debate has once again been ignited following the big NCAA win for Lia Thomas recently. Thomas became the talk of the nation as the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA national championship after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle event in swimming.  And now, the state in which Thomas attends college and competed for is joining the growing number of states looking to (or have already) passed legislation banning transgender girls in sports.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania House Bill 972, called the Save Women’s Sports Act, passed the Pennsylvania House Education Committee. The bill was first introduced last April by state Rep. Barbara Gleim, a Republican from Cumberland. The proposed legislation would directly affect transgender athletes by restricting players to male or female teams based on their reproductive organs, biology, or genetics at birth. Proposed by Republican leaders in the state, it passed a 15-9 party-line vote.

Like similar legislation being passed in other Republican ran states, the text of the bill takes a direct hit specifically at transgender girl athletes. It notes that the state’s athletic sports teams that are already designated for females only should never be open to students of the male sex, regardless of how they identify. Similarly, the bill looks to give students and schools a means to sue if they feel the ruling isn’t being upheld. House Bill 972 would cover all K-12 school teams, college sports, along with intramural and club teams that are sponsored by school entities. 

transgender sports

Republican House Representative Martina White from Philadelphia is one of the co-sponsors of the bill. Before voting began yesterday, she said that no female athlete should be forced to compete against transgender athletes. She called that act “unfair.” White and other proponents of such legislation say that allowing transgender girls to compete in women’s athletes sets back the multi-decade struggle women have strived for in advancing equal athletic opportunities for women in sports.

The House Bill’s original author also discussed the need for transgender athletes legislation. Citing the recent events surrounding Lia Thomas, Gleim made a point to continuously misgender Lia Thomas, who was born with male anatomy but now identifies as female. She also claimed that the bill would further women’s rights advancements. “Identities don’t play sports, bodies do,” said Gleim.

Even though the bill was voted through the committee, it was met with fierce opposition from Democrat members. Democratic representative Mary Isaacson of Philadelphia said that they have no right to intervene in athletic matters. Furthermore, she said that an athlete’s eligibility should be addressed by their sports’ governing bodies. Coveying that she believes all women, not just those biologically born that way, should be treated the same, she exclaimed that the legislation only seeks to attack transgender athletes.

transgender sports

Eleven states in the country now have legislation barring transgender athletes’ rights to compete in sports. But even some Republican leaders are backing out of the strict pushback to ban these athletes. Republican governors in both Utah and Indians vetoed similar legislation this month. Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who once supported the legislation, backed down on his stance. He said the reason for his veto wasn’t necessarily a personal reason, but more so he felt that there was no clear issue regarding transgender participation in sports. Now approved by the state education committee, House Bill 972 next heads to the chamber for consideration. Given the Republican majority control, there’s a good chance it will be voted through.