A bill that would bar transgender girls and women from middle school through college from participating in women’s sports teams passed the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday and appears poised to become law.
Republican negotiators for the measure have worked out differences between competing versions of the bill that are likely to go to the House and Senate for final votes in the coming weeks.
House Bill 574 states that a student’s sex is assigned at birth and that anyone assigned male at birth cannot play on a girls’ or girls’ sports team at school, even if they transition to a female.
“It’s not telling anybody they can’t play,” said Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell. “It just goes to show people that women’s sport is for women.”
Opponents of Bill say the measure specifically targets a small number of young people who are already living hard lives.
“This bill just creates situations where trans kids don’t feel safe,” said Kyle Warren-Love, who became lesbian at 12 and trans at 20.
Senator Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, said the bill targeted students “in a mean and unfair way.”
“A middle school student who might be on a puberty blocker,” Marcus said. “A trans girl who lives like a girl and just wants to play on her middle school team.”
That version of the bill used to affect transgender boys and girls, but the language was changed Wednesday so the bill only restricts transgender girls and women who were designated male at birth from participating in women’s sports.
Lawmakers said they did not want to prevent female students from joining the boys’ teams. They also agreed that the ban should extend from secondary schools all the way to universities, which has been controversial. This rule does not apply to collegiate intramural sports.
Current rules allow students to participate in high school sports based on their gender identity, though it requires a lengthy process and review of medical information.
Eighteen requests for gender exemptions have been submitted to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association since the policy was implemented ahead of the 2019-20 school year. Sixteen were approved, but 14 of them were biological women who asked to play on the men’s team.
According to NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker, two of them were biologically male and asked to be on the women’s team.
House Bill 574, which passed a Senate committee on Wednesday, will be the final version of the bill, Sawyer said. The Senate version of Senate Bill 631 will not move forward after House and Senate negotiators resolve differences between the two bills and combine the changes into HB 574.
Republicans have supermajorities in both the House and Senate, allowing them to vote the bill into law whether or not Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper tries to veto it.
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