Two Republican lawmakers in Ohio have put forward legislation that would prohibit biological males who identify as transgender from participating in girls' high school sports, joining a wave of similar efforts throughout the country.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday that GOP state Reps. Jena Powell and Reggie Stoltzfus had introduced the "Save Women's Sports Act," which would mandate that the state's high school athletic association bar students who are biologically male from participating in public school and private school girls' sports.
At a Tuesday news conference at the statehouse in Columbus, Powell said that the bill "is crucial to preserving women's rights and the integrity of women's and girls sports." She added, "Across our country, female athletes are being robbed of athletic opportunities, dreams of competing at the next level, and even potential scholarship opportunities when biological males compete against females."
After briefly summarizing what the bill would do, Powell said that "we want everyone in the state of Ohio to be able to compete on a level playing field." She later added that "allowing biological males to compete against biological females is a discriminatory policy that turns back the clock over a half-century on advances we have made for women," such as Title IX.
"We want every little girl in our state to achieve her athletic dreams," Powell said in conclusion.
Currently, Ohio High School Athletic Association policy requires males who identify as transgender to show proof of a year of hormone therapy or demonstrate "by way of sound medical evidence that" they don't have a physiological advantage over biological females of the same age group in order to play a girls' sport.
"You know, there are people that choose to live in fantasy, but here in the legislature we deal with reality," Powell said in response to the current policy, according to Cleveland.com. "And the reality is that if you're born a biological male, you have things (such as) greater lung capacity, tendons, things like that that could give you an advantage over females."
A board member for the group TransOhio slammed the bill in a statement, saying that biological males compete with biological females is harmless.
"This legislation is yet another harmful attempt to erase transgender people from public life, this time by targeting children who just want to participate in the sports they love while being their authentic selves," the statement reads, according to the Statehouse News Bureau. "Letting transgender children play sports harms no one, but prohibiting it means legislators are ripping away access to fun, developmental, cooperative childhood experiences that young athletes should be able to learn from and enjoy."
The Ohio bill comes after lawmakers in several other states have put forward similar legislative efforts to address the question of biological males competing with biological females. Similar bills have so far been proposed or filed in Idaho, Missouri, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. In addition to the described legislative efforts, three high school girls and their mothers announced a federal lawsuit earlier this month that challenges the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy of allowing biological males compete in girls' sports.