Montana Bill Limits Opportunities for Trans Athletes

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A Montana bill would keep transgender student-athletes from playing sports with the gender with which they identify.

House Bill No. 112 would require “public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex.” According to The Associated Press, the Montana House discussed Bill 112, as well as a bill that would prohibit doctors from providing transgender youth certain gender-related medical treatment, during a Monday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

Proponents of House Bill 112, also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” say it would protect the integrity of women’s sports, while opponents say it would harm the wellbeing of transgender youth.

“Allowing males to compete as women in female sports will result in women once again being shouldered aside to stand below the awards podium and forced to cheer the accomplishments of men,” said Rep. John Fuller, the bill’s sponsor.

Laurel Hesse, the legislative program manager with the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, said the bill would unconstitutionally discriminate against Montana children based on sex.

“Trans people do not transition to get an advantage in sports,” said Zooey Zephyr, a transgender woman and former wrestler. “The image of ‘trans women ruining the integrity of women’s sports’ paints a false picture of life as a trans woman. It incorrectly claims that we have a competitive advantage, and it misses why trans people transition in the first place, which is to lead a happier life.”

This bill isn’t unique, as the AP reports similar bills are under consideration in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

Idaho signed a similar bill restricting transgender students’ sports participation last March, but a federal judge put the law on hold while the ACLU’s legal challenge proceeds.

Related content: In Briefs, DOJ, 14 States Back Idaho Transgender Law

According to the Missoula Current, Montana University System deputy commissioner of higher education Kevin McRae said the system is tracking it.

“The issue is not unique to Montana,” McRae said. “The NCAA, not the Montana University System, controls collegiate sports ramifications or reactions to legislation like this. We can’t speak for the NCAA, but we are certainly watching this bill carefully.’

Related content: Bill Ties Title IX Protections to Sex Assigned at Birth

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