(INDIANAPOLIS) – A House committee has voted to bar transgender girls from girls’ high school sports.
The IHSAA has had a policy for several years requiring transgender girls who want to play sports to show they’ve completed hormone therapy, and that their muscle mass or bone density is typical of other girls the same age. Whiteland Representative and former Ball State point guard Michelle Davis’s (R) bill mirrors laws passed in eight states last year and in Idaho in 2020, requiring student-athletes to compete under the gender on their birth certificate.
Supporters at a three-hour House Education Committee hearing argued even hormone therapy doesn’t negate the physical advantages a trans student brings to the field, from physical size to lung capacity. Several parents of high school or college athletes contend if trans students compete in girls’ sports, they’ll have an unfair advantage in winning roster spots, competitions and scholarships.
LGBT activists, trans Hoosiers, and parents of trans kids say transgender kids are already more likely to feel ostracized or to be bullied, and contend the bill would tell them explicitly they’re not welcome. Junior high counselor Anna Sutter says she already worries about losing trans students to suicide. She argues trans students aren’t playing sports in hopes of becoming stars, but to gain the same social and mental benefits their classmates get from playing together as a team.
Davis says Indiana has had just one case of a transgender student seeking to play girls’ sports, and says the school district resolved it internally. But she says allowing trans students to compete against other girls would undermine the goal of the federal Title Nine law guaranteeing male and female athletes equal opportunity.
Davis deleted a provision which would have extended the ban to college athletes. The NCAA has had a transgender policy since 2010, but modified it last week to announce it would follow the lead of national governing bodies for individual sports.
The committee passed the bill 8-4, with New Albany Republican Ed Clere joining Democrats in voting no. Protesters chanted “Stand up, fight back” from the gallery at legislators after the vote, bringing the hearing to a brief halt. The bill will go to the full House later this week.