NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The House voted 71 to 16 with 5 abstentions to pass the anti-trans athlete bill, sending it to the governor's desk.
According to the bill, student-athletes would be required to prove that their sex matches the student’s “original” birth certificate in order to participate in public school sports.
Representatives supporting the bill argued that allowing transgender students to participate in school sports would do a disservice to females within the sport, saying male muscle mass and structure would give them an advantage over their female counterparts. They also said that advantage would in turn limit scholarship opportunities for females.
However, opponents said the bill would likely result in vulnerable students being marginalized.
ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg released the following statement in response to the vote.
“Today’s vote by state legislators embedding discrimination against transgender youth into state law is shameful. Transgender girls do not threaten women’s sports. Even the bill sponsors have admitted that they do not know of a single instance of a Tennessee student facing any harm from a transgender athlete playing sports. Transgender girls are girls. Transgender boys are boys. They simply want to participate in school sports for the same reason as anybody else: to find a sense of belonging and social engagement with their peers, to be a part of a team, and to challenge themselves. With this discriminatory and unconstitutional bill, lawmakers have now compromised trans children’s health, social and emotional development, and safety. Instead of focusing on fear-based myths, our state should focus on the actual issues with gender parity in sports when it comes to funding, resources, pay equity, and more. Promoting baseless fears about trans athletes does nothing to address those very real problems. We urge Governor Lee to reverse course and veto this bill or – should any transgender student be excluded because of this new law – we will see him in court.”