Activists oppose bill restricting transgender athletes in Utah sports



Editorial note: This story is part of a two-part conversation around a bill to ban transgender girls from participating in female sports in Utah. Read on and listen to the other side of the conversation here.

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House passed a bill last week banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ school sports, but Gov. Spencer Cox said he had reservations about its enactment in its current form.

Sue Robbins, former chair of the Utah Pride Center and Transgender Education Advocates board of directors, shared her perspective on the legislation with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic of KSL NewsRadio.

Bill OK’d along the party lines

Representative Kera Birkeland’s bill was passed on Wednesday at Utah House by 50 to 23 votes – mostly along party lines – and would now require public schools across the state to designate athletic activities based on ” sex ”and not on“ gender ”. This would effectively ban transgender female athletes from female school sports in Utah.

Republican Morgan’s bill – HB302, titled Preserving Sport for Female Students – “requires schools and local education agencies to designate athletic activities by gender, prohibits a male student from participating in athletic activity intended for female students. students “.

Under the bill, sex is defined as “the biological and physical condition of being male or female, determined by the genetics and anatomy of an individual at birth.”

“It’s very important to me that we have a level playing field for our women,” Birkeland said in a Facebook Live video.

Idaho is the only state to pass a similar law last year, but it has been blocked in federal court as a trial unfolds, according to the Associated Press.

Democrats intervene

The Utah House Democratic Caucus had that response when the bill passed.

Biden signs a decree

On the first day of his term, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that would prevent and address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live fearlessly, no matter who they are or who they love. Children should be able to learn regardless of whether they will be denied access to toilets, changing rooms or school sports.

Contribution of the Governor of Utah

“I think there is still a lot to be done to protect women’s sport, and also to send a message to trans children that there is a place for them and that they belong. And it’s really important to me that they know that, ”Cox said at a press conference last week.

“These kids are – they’re just trying to stay alive. There’s a reason none of them play sports and… I just think there’s a better way. And I hope there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution, ”Cox said at the press conference.

Dave and Dujanovic

“As the governor described it. . . you could hear it in his voice how emotional he was. He said, “Why it’s difficult is because both sides are right,” which you don’t hear very often, ”noted Dave.

Dave and Debbie discussed legislation regarding female trans athletes with Sue Robbins of Equality Utah and the Transgender Advisory Council, and Everyday People co-host at KRCL RadioACTIve, raising LGBTQ + voices and issues.

“Can you help us understand some of these issues and why this bill is problematic to you? Dave asked.

Robbins said that at the heart of the issue of transgender athletes participating in female sports are older athletes versus younger athletes, especially prepubescent youth.

“When we look at them, they are fundamentally neutral to each other. Puberty is where changes can potentially occur, ”she said. “Puberty is where transgender girls take hormone blockers, which is basically a pause button and keeps them from going into puberty, so their bodies stay on the same level. They don’t build muscle mass. They don’t go through growth etc.

“We’re afraid of these big boys with our daughters, and that’s not the comparison we should be making,” Robbins said.

“As you describe this, Sue, I see where you’re coming from. If the bodies are the same then the opportunity should be the same, ”said Dave.

To see again next year

“Is there room for compromise, this [legislative] or do you want it to be tabled for now and the discussion to take place in the meantime? Debbie asked.

As the Legislature closed its session on March 5, Robbins would like to see the issue of transgender female athletes in school sports moved to the interim period and bring all the experts into the discussion.

“There is no urgent need, but we are moving forward. And that’s the most worrying thing because transgender kids feel like they don’t belong, ”Robbins said.

The bill now goes through the Utah Senate.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays 9-11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.


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