Indiana transgender athlete bill on fast track to governor

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The Indiana Senate on Tuesday did not amend a Republican-backed bill that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity, putting it on the fast track to passing.

If the full Senate approves the bill, which could happen as soon as Thursday, it would head to the governor for consideration. The Indiana House already passed it.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has not publicly said what he thinks of the proposal. A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not provide additional comment on Tuesday.

Lawmakers in the Senate are moving forward with the ban—making no changes to its language—after the House advanced the bill last month, largely along party lines.

Five Republican senators joined the 11 Senate Democrats on Tuesday in an unsuccessful effort to prevent the ban from moving forward by sending the issue to a special study committee that would meet after this year’s legislative session ends. Those Republicans were Ron Alting of Lafayette, Eric Bassler of Washington, Vaneta Becker of Evansville, Chip Perfect of Lawrenceburg and Kyle Walker of Indianapolis.

Another failed amendment offered by Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford, of Indianapolis, would have required the the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) to maintain policies regarding athlete eligibility based on gender.

A separate defeated proposal offered by Ford would have established a scholarship fund for transgender athletes and required the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to contribute money equivalent to what is spent annually fighting lawsuits against the potential new law.

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union have maintained that the group will file a lawsuit if the “hateful legislation” is signed into law in Indiana.

Corrine Youngs, policy director and legislative counsel to Attorney General Todd Rokita, has testified at the Statehouse in support of the bill, noting that Rokita’s office sees the bill as a way of protecting “the amazing progress made for women” in athletics. She added that the bill is “constitutional,” and if it’s challenged, “we will defend it in court.”

Ford said defending such a law would be “terrible” for Indiana’s image and a “waste” of taxpayer dollars.

“Senators, these are kids that we are actively attacking,” Ford said Tuesday. “To me, we can have debate on the LGBTQ-plus community, but we do not and should not have a debate on human existence for these kids.”

Rep. Michelle Davis, a Republican from Greenwood who authored the bill, said its purpose is to “maintain fair competition in girls sports.”

Opponents maintain that the bill is unconstitutional, sexist and bigoted, emphasizing that it targets already vulnerable transgender Hoosier youth. They also say it amounts to a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Emma Vosicky, executive director of GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based social service agency for trans and nonbinary people and their families, emphasized that transgender students in Indiana already participate in school sports “without issue.”

The proposal would prohibit K-12 students who were born male but who identify as female from participating in a sport or on an athletic team that is designated for women or girls. But it wouldn’t prevent students who identify as female or transgender men from playing on men’s sports teams. It also would not apply to sports at the collegiate level.

Former Indiana Republican Rep. Christy Stutzman proposed similar legislation in 2020, although the bill did not advance from the House education committee.

Democrats have maintained that such bills are “discriminatory” and “harmful to kids.” They also contend that the IHSAA already has a policy that requires transgender girls who want to play sports to show they’ve completed hormone therapy, and that their muscle mass or bone density is typical of other girls the same age.

If the bill passes the Legislature, Indiana could be the 11th Republican-dominated state to adopt such a ban on transgender women or girls. Federal judges have halted enforcement of the laws in two of those states, Idaho and West Virginia. The U.S. Department of Justice has challenged bans in other states, slamming them as violations of federal law.

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9 thoughts on “Indiana transgender athlete bill on fast track to governor

  1. Because “trans girls” are really confused boys who need help. Because they are genetically boys, they generally have inherently stronger athletic skills than girls, DonALD, putting the girls at a disadvantage.

    1. Which is why we already have rules in Indiana that prevent those trans girls from competing against biological girls, which have prevented a single instance of unfair competition taking place.

      They can only compete if they have the muscle mass and bone density of biological girls. Spoiler alert: they don’t, even after hormone therapy. So, they’re never going to be eligible.

      This bill’s sole purpose to impress people like Bob so legislators can grandstand and win a primary. It claims to fix a problem that doesn’t exist because the people who claim to “do their own research” are foolish enough to believe this is a problem that legislators need to fix in Indiana. They get impressed by this kind of legislative nonsense and ignore the fact that our kids are getting worse educations and our roads are falling apart and send the same legislators back to Indianapolis to hoodwink them again.

    1. Here’s where bills like this end up:

      Texas Classifies Medical Treatment of Trans Minors as Abuse, Threatens Parents, Orders Caregivers To Snitch

      Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has declared all medical treatment of transgender minors to be child abuse and says that his office could prosecute parents of transgender children, as well as “mandatory reporters” who fail to report medical treatment of transgender children to the state. In tandem, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has urged state officials to begin investigating any families that may be giving their trans kids puberty-blocking drugs or hormones, or allowing them to undergo surgical treatments.

  2. It sounds like it reassures parents who don’t know about fine print elsewhere: “They can only compete if they have the muscle mass and bone density of biological girls.” That “fine print” is not in the media reports.

    1. A bill seeking to prohibit transgender athletes from playing school sports will additionally head to the full Senate after the education committee advanced the proposal in an 8-3 vote, along party lines. The measure advanced from the House last month.

      Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis Ford called the bill “unnecessary and unconstitutional,” noting that the Indiana High School Athletic Association already has a policy that requires transgender girls who want to play sports to show they’ve completed hormone therapy, and that their muscle mass or bone density is typical of other girls the same age.

      “Instead of addressing the teacher shortage, instead of addressing student mental health, we’re getting sidetracked with bills like this,” Ford said in a statement Wednesday. “Even filing this bill sends a message to trans kids and their families that they’re not welcomed in our state.”

    2. Greencastle City Councillor Veronica Pejril (D), Indiana’s first transgender elected official, notes the IHSAA already has an eligibility policy for transgender athletes, based on bone density and muscle mass. She says that’s far better than the blanket ban, which she calls a sledgehammer approach compared to the “X-Acto knife” used by the IHSAA. And Pejril and Carmel Senator J.D. Ford (D), the legislature’s only openly gay member, point out the IHSAA has never once had to apply the policy.

      IHSAA Commissioner Paul Neidig told a House committee last month there’s been a single instance of a transgender athlete asking to play girls’ sports in Indiana, and that case was resolved by the school district.