On Thursday, the House Education Committee voted to pass a bill that would ban transgender girls from competing in K-12 girls’ sports.
Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, is sponsoring House Bill 302, which would also bar transgender girls in private schools from competing against public schools. Birkeland says that even though there are currently no transgender athletes competing in Utah sports, allowing individuals who were designated male at birth to compete in girls’ sports brings an unfair advantage to those competitors.
“In sports, biology matters. Muscles matter, even our reproductive system matters. Have you ever tried to run while experiencing menstrual cramps?” she said. “While inclusion is important in sports, it will come at the cost of fairness.”
The Utah High School Activities Association already requires transgender athletes to take hormone therapy for at least a year before allowing them to compete in sports. Hormone replacement therapy for transgender girls reduces testosterone levels and impacts muscles mass and bone density. It reaches its full effect in one to two years.
Critics argue the bill is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Pediatrician Jeniffer Plum spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the practice is especially harmful to transgender people who disproportionately suffer from mental health issues.
“We hear there is not one transgender athlete playing right now in our state schools. I’ll tell you what we have had: between 2017 and 2019, we had 414 young Utahns kill themselves. We need to think about what we are doing here when we put bills in place that already take a vulnerable population and say they don’t matter,” she said.
The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 8-to-6 and now heads to the full House of Representatives.
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