The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday banning biological males who identify as females from playing on women’s sports teams in middle schools, high schools and colleges.
Lawmakers easily approved the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act by a 73-39 vote, which requires players to play on teams that match genders determined by “reproductive biology and genetics at birth” and three Democrat bills support.
Representative Tricia Cotham, a Republican who recently announced a high-profile withdrawal from the Democratic Party, giving the GOP an absolute majority to veto, also voted in favor of the bill.
The bill is now considering its own version of the same bill and moves to the state Senate, where Republicans have an absolute majority. The state Senate could vote as early as Thursday on legislation that currently does not affect collegiate athletics.
North Carolina currently allows transgender athletes to play sports based on their gender identity, but students who wish to do so must go through a process that includes providing medical information.
Supporters of the latest bill claim that it promotes fairness and protects girls from competition.
“This bill is inclusive, not exclusive,” said Representative Kristin Baker, a Republican and primary sponsor of the bill. “The object of this bill is to permit fair and in particular safe and physically secure competition.”
Critics counter that such measures discriminate against transgender people and interfere with their lives.
“This is an excuse for prejudice and part of a larger effort to restrict transgender people from living their lives,” Congresswoman Vernetta Alston, a Democrat, said during debate on the measure.
According to local NBC affiliate WRAL, 18 sex exemption requests have been submitted to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association since the current policy took effect ahead of the 2019-20 school year, with one request incomplete and one denied. , Of the remaining 16 accepted, 14 were biological females who requested to play on boys’ teams, and only two were biological males who wished to compete with girls.
But supporters of the bill point to the case of Peyton McNabb, a North Carolina high school senior who suffered concussions and neck injuries after being hit in the head with a volleyball by a transgender athlete during a school game last September.
“Maybe I’m the one who comes before you with the hurt, but if it doesn’t pass, I’m not the last,” she said at a committee meeting Wednesday before the House final vote.
The debate has attracted national advocates such as Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer and political activist, who has openly opposed biological males competing against girls and women.
Republicans with a supermajority would be able to ensure that the final version of the bill becomes law even if Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoes it.
North Carolina is not alone in enacting laws barring biological males from participating in girls’ sports. At least 21 states have now banned transgender athletes, primarily to protect girls by barring biological males who identify as females. And several additional states will soon join the list or expand restrictions.
Across the country, several states have introduced similar bills that would become law in their GOP-controlled legislatures.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, the White House pledged Monday that it would veto a Republican-backed bill that would ban biological males from participating in women’s sports if President Biden passes the House and Senate.
Administration HR 734,” the White House said in a statement.
“Schools, coaches and athletic associations across the country are already working with families to develop rules of engagement that take into account specific sports, grades and levels of competition,” the White House said in a statement. Could.” “HR 734 is discriminatory because it targets people for what they are, as a national ban that does not consider competition or class strata.”
Earlier this month, the Biden administration proposed a new rule to ban transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity.
Subject to a public comment period, the proposal would prevent any state or school district from enacting a similar policy that would “explicitly” impose such a ban.