Tennessee bill would stop transgender women from competing in women's sports

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Posted at 7:45 PM, Mar 30, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lawmakers debated a bill Wednesday that would ban transgender students from competing in women's sports.

The discussion about transgender athletes is not unique to this year.

The state already passed bans on transgender women playing on middle and high school girls' sports teams.

House Bill 2316 adds public higher education to the list. The debate on this bill brought out strong testimony from both sides.

"Being hit on the side of the head by a girl does not hurt me. Being hit on the side of the head by a boy ruptured my eardrum," said a female wrestler brought in to speak on the bill.

However, one transgender athlete said it's never been a problem for her.

"Trans athletes are just part of the wide variety of folks training, running, racing often losing in pursuit of our athletic goals," said athlete Dahron Johnson. "Our community is not the problem."

Republican State Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, sponsored the bill.

"Post puberty males and females are inherently different," Rep. Ragan said, speaking to the Civil Justice Committee. "Furthermore, an individual simply thinking or feeling that they are of the opposite sex is an absurdity that cannot alter physical reality."

Opponents on the committee said the bill's passage could cause the NCAA to withhold funding for state athletics.

An equality advocate at the meeting said the state doesn't need to do this.

"I think sports governing bodies — who study this and can find paths for everyone to participate — are the proper authority for this type thing," said Chris Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality Project. "When you put stuff like this in the code, you put it on ice. It's an overreaction."

The legislation also allows anyone to take civil action if the person who wins a sanctioned competition is a transgender female.

This bill passed through the committee.