Kentucky panel passes ban on older transgender athletes
FRANKFORT, Ky (AP) — A Kentucky House panel advanced legislation Wednesday that would bar transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity from sixth grade to college.
The Republican-backed bill cleared the state Senate last month. It was amended Wednesday to extend the ban to college.
Under the proposal, the gender of a student for the purpose of determining athletic eligibility would be determined by the ”student’s certified birth certificate as originally issued at the time of birth or adoption.”
The measure now heads to the House. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.
If it passes into law, Kentucky would join a growing number of GOP-dominated states adopting similar bans, though the bans have been challenged in several states as violations of federal law. In almost every one of those states, sponsors have been unable cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.
At the beginning of the hearing, House education committee chair Rep, Regina Huff, a Republican, said she would not allow testimony on the bill because the hearing was “after hours.” Therefore, Fischer Wells, a transgender student who had traveled to the state Capitol to testify alongside her parents, was not able to share a statement.
When Wells testified before a Senate panel last month, she explained that the bill could bar her from participating in sports at school. She also spoke about the friends she had made and how much fun she had being part of her field hockey team.
“It’s disgusting that this bill is even suggested,” she added. “It’s terrible. And I worked really hard and practiced so many hours.”
Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat, also warned that the legislation would go against NCAA rules and harm transgender children. The bill, she insisted, was not “common sense.”
“This is not the way forward for Kentucky.”″ she said. “We should be taking care of and protecting our trans kids.”
The legislation is Senate Bill 83.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.