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25 Apr, 2021 12:56

Transphobic or a victory for common sense? Alabama bans ‘biological males’ from playing on female school sports teams

Transphobic or a victory for common sense? Alabama bans ‘biological males’ from playing on female school sports teams

Alabama has adopted a new law that bars public schools from allowing transgender girls to participate in female sports, rekindling debate about the controversial measure, which has been embraced by other conservative states.

The bill, HB 391, states that public K-12 schools “may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team.” Sponsored by Republican state Rep. Scott Stadthagen, the law passed both houses of the legislature without difficulty before being signed off by Governor Kay Ivey on Friday.

In a statement, Stadthagen thanked the governor for “protecting the rights of Alabama’s female athletes,” adding that “standing up for what is right is not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do.”

Proponents of the legislation argue that transgender girls have physiological advantages in competition, making their participation in female sports unfair. State lawmakers who backed the bill said it was necessary to maintain the “integrity” of female athletic programs. 

But critics insisted that the law was exclusionary and addresses a problem that doesn’t exist. LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the law was “politically motivated” and “designed to discriminate against an already vulnerable population.”

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The group’s Alabama state director, Carmarion D. Harvey-Anderson, claimed the bill was based on “lies and misinformation,” adding that transgender youth have been playing sports “consistent with their gender identity for years without incident on the collegiate and professional level.” The rule will result in expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles and harm the state’s reputation, the organization predicted.

Reactions were also split on social media. Many seemed to view the law as uncontroversial and necessary. One commenter argued that those who were upset over the rule didn’t understand that biological males have attributes that give them an unfair edge over female athletes. 

Girls have a right to “fair competition,” and transgender athletes should form their own teams, said another supporter of the measure. 

“There are no restrictions. Everyone can play sports according to their actual genders. No restrictions,” wrote one person who seemed frustrated over the controversy. 

But there were plenty of others who saw the issue differently. Twitter users accused Republicans of spreading “hate and fear,” with one commenter wondering if the GOP was holding a contest to see “who can alienate the most voters.”

Republican legislators across the country have introduced bills that would restrict transgender girls from playing on female sports teams. Last month, Mississippi’s Republican governor, Jonathon Tate Reeves, signed a bill that bars trans athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams. Idaho last year became the first state to institute such restrictions, but the law is currently being challenged in court. 

At the same time, there are also states that have rejected the move. On Thursday, Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, vetoed a similar bill, claiming it would harm children. 

The Republican governors of North and South Dakota have also shot down legislation that bars transgender youth from joining female sports teams.

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