North Carolina legislators have introduced a bill that bans transgender women from women’s collegiate, high school and middle school sports.
House Bill 358, introduced Monday, says participation in women’s sports must be limited to women, a definition it says is based on a person’s biological sex, not gender identity.
Labeled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” the bill is similar to others that have been introduced across the country this year. The news website The Hill reported in early March that bills had been introduced in 35 states had to limit transgender participation in women’s sports. South Carolina recently tabled such a bill, while Mississippi and Idaho have signed legislation into law.
The primary bill sponsors in North Carolina are Rep. Mark Brody, Rep. Pat McElraft, Rep. Diane Wheatley and Rep. Jimmy Dixon, all Republicans. It has not yet been placed on the calendar.
The bill divides sports teams into three groups — male, female and coed — and bases participation on a person’s biological sex.
It says that “inherent differences” between men and women make men faster and stronger, creating an unlevel playing field.
At the collegiate level, the bill would apply to intramural teams.
Presently in North Carolina, transgender girls can participate in sports at their schools, but schools must submit a “Gender Identity Report,” which may include medical documentation.
Critics of such legislation, including AJ Mazaris, the director of the LGBTQ+ Center at Wake Forest University, say such bills are creating an issue out of something that is not a problem.
“This is much like HB2,” Mazaris said, referencing the famous “bathroom bill” that banned transgender people from using the bathroom of their identity. “This is a solution looking for a problem, but the problem isn’t actually there.”
Mazaris said the bill sends a harmful message to transgender youth, a segment of the population that has higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide ideation than their peers.
“When you have positive messages of inclusion for transgender youth, negative mental health outcomes start to dissipate,” Mazaris said. “These bills aren’t just harmful to trans athletes but for all trans youths who are receiving this message on a very public stage that their lives don’t matter.”
Brody, the bill’s primary sponsor, said in a statement that instances of men competing in women’s sports exemplify the need to act before women’s sports opportunities are destroyed. He did not cite any examples. “The Save Women’s Sports Act is the solution which ensures that all female athletes will be assured a level playing field to compete and win,” he said.