Virginia Trans Bill Would Regulate Trans Female Athletes, But Not Trans Males

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A bill making its way through the legislature in Virginia would ban transgender women and girls from competing in women's sports, however, the bill doesn't place any restrictions on transgender men and boys. 

WRIC-TV reported that the Virginia House of Delegates advanced HB 1387 on Monday.  The bill would ban transgender women and girls from competing on any “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic team” at any school or college in the state.

The bill was put forth by by Delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach).

“The purpose of House Bill 1387 is to protect our girls and young women from being forced to compete against biological males,” Greenhalgh said, as reported by WRIC-TV. “Today, even the strongest, fastest girls in Virginia must step up to the starting line and know, ‘I can’t win.'"

Those speaking in support of the bill were largely from out of state, including college athletes speaking on their own experiences competing against transgender women outside of Virginia, athletes who have not personally competed against trans athletes but who supported the ban or legislators and lobbyists with conservative organizations, the news station reported. 

One of the speakers was Marshi Smith, a former collegiate swimmer from Northern Virginia. 

“I won a PAC-10 and NCAA championship, and I just want to say today how important it is to protect the women’s sports,” she said.

WRIC-TV reported that while many speakers emphasized the importance of scholarships and lost opportunities in highly-competitive NCAA and high school league sports, the bill would ban transgender women and girls from virtually all organized school sports, including clubs and intramurals, unless they elect to play on co-ed or men’s teams.

Kimberly Morris, representing Equality Virginia, said the legislation was unnecessary.

“The issues brought forth by the sponsor and the supporters of this bill can be addressed without banning participation or stigmatizing young transgender girls, including the already stringent standards established by Virginia,” Morris said, as reported by the news station.

Under Virginia High School League regulations, trans athletes wishing to have their identity recognized for competition must provide documentation of their transition, including lists of medication taken. The decision is then left to a VHSL district committee to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Since these rules were enacted in 2014, just 28 students have applied and 25 have been granted the right to play on teams aligning with their gender identities. In 2021, nine of the 174,000 students participating in high school sports were transgender.

Ron Adams, a second-year law student at the University of Virginia and transgender man, said the bill ignores the important social value of allowing kids to compete in high school sports.

“I wasn’t out when I played sports as a kid, but if I now had to play on an all-girls sports team because I was assigned female at birth, I wouldn’t play,” Adams said, WRIC-TV reported. “And that would be such a shame. The reality is these bills are telling kids they can’t play."

After the public comment period, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) asked Greenhalgh why the bill had been brought forward in this session.

"Is the patron aware of any issues of fairness that the schools or specific leagues or athletic associations have not been able to handle adequately under existing regulations?" Filler-Corn asked.

“Well, the fact that a biological man can compete against a biological woman in a women’s competition, that is unfair,” Greenhalgh replied.

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