Bill would use gender on birth certificate to determine team on which transgender youths play

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 3:46 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 4:40 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A bill that would ban transgender student-athletes from competing in girls sports in South Carolina is suddenly back in front of lawmakers.

The Save Women’s Sports Act says the gender of students on their birth certificates will determine whether they can play on a boys team or a girls team.

A similar proposal was twice blocked in the House Judiciary Committee last spring even as nearly a dozen other states, all Republican-led, passed their own laws preventing transgender students from playing on girls sports teams.

Rep. Ashley Trantham, (R-Greenville), who sponsored the previous legislation and this new version, said she is optimistic its new assignment in the House Education and Public Works Committee could provide a more favorable route to passage this time.

“After last session and the process that the bill went through, there were several people that did vote against it, and since then, whether it’s that they just started listening to their constituents or what, they’ve changed their mind on the vote, and they want another chance to vote on it,” Trantham said.

This bill faces a tight deadline, as it must pass the House within about the next month, or else it dies.

Meanwhile, House members will focus their attention for much of next week on debate over the state budget.

But Trantham said Education and Public Works Chair Rita Allison, (R-Spartanburg), told her she does believe the bill has a path forward to potentially reach the House floor for debate ahead of that deadline.

A House subcommittee heard testimony for the first time on this version of the bill for an hour Thursday.

Two supporters of the legislation argued it is needed to protect and ensure opportunities for girls and women, including their chance to receive scholarships.

“Women deserve to compete on a fair and level playing field, and allowing males to compete in women’s sports destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities,” Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom said.

But LGBTQ+ advocates contended the bill is unnecessary and could make transgender kids and teens more vulnerable to bullying or even worse outcomes.

“Women’s sports are not under attack by the transgender community. The transgender community is under attack,” Pippin Whitaker, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Columbia, said.

“My fear is that a bill like this just gives another target on the back of these people that are struggling on our society as it is,” Columbia Lutheran pastor Tim Bupp added.

As opposed to previous versions of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” this rendition would also regulate athletics at South Carolina’s public colleges and universities.

Trantham said she has compassion for transgender youth but doesn’t want to see women’s sports “compromised.”

“You just have to be a cold person not to have compassion for some of the things that they’re going through, but I don’t believe that by sacrificing our girls’ opportunities when it comes to athletics, is worth just absolutely taking it away, those opportunities,” she said.

A House subcommittee will hold at least a second meeting on the bill to hear more testimony, while a Senate subcommittee will have its own public hearing next week on similar legislation.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.