RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Several parents of transgender kids urged state lawmakers Wednesday not to pass a bill that would block their kids from participating in women’s sports, as some athletes argued the bill is about fairness.
Republican lawmakers recently the filed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which is similar to legislation filed in more than 30 states and that has been passed into law in a few of them.
The bill is intended to bar transgender children and young adults from participating on women’s teams in colleges as well as middle and high schools. It applies to both public and private schools.
Jennifer Olson said she has a daughter who is transgender and said the bill is unnecessary.
“It’s about girls. It’s talking about my daughter. And, if she couldn’t play on her school’s sports team, this would impact her confidence, her self-esteem,” she said during a hearing Wednesday.
Beth Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter who started the organization Save Women’s Sports, has been traveling the country urging state leaders to pass legislation dealing with the issue.
“This bill is not a ban. It’s not rooted in hate or transphobia. It is simply to protect fairness for biological females,” she said.
Republicans have filed other bills impacting transgender people this session, including one that would require teachers and other government employees who care for kids to report to their parents if they exhibit gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.
Amid a wave of legislation across the country impacting LGBTQ people, the NCAA issued a statement this week warning these laws could affect where they allow championship events to be held.
“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants,” the statement read.
Rep. Mark Brody (R-Anson/Union), one of the lead sponsors of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” criticized the NCAA.
“When they start using economic extortion and bullying, that steps over the line, in my opinion. It steps over the line,” he said. “The NCAA better start walking on eggs a little bit and be careful if they’re going to exercise this economic extortion.”
After the General Assembly passed House Bill 2, known as the bathroom bill, in 2016, the NCAA later urged the state to repeal it or risk losing championship events for several years. The law was partially repealed soon after.
Katie Jenifer talked to legislators about her daughter, Madison, who is transgender. She’s 13 and has played several sports, including basketball, softball and gymnastics.
“The number one reason why she’s ever asked to do a sport is because all her friends were,” she said. “Take away an outlet to build community and friendships, that’s devastating.”
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has a policy that allows athletes to participate on teams corresponding with their gender identity. James Alverson, a spokesperson for the NCHSAA, said since that policy’s inception in 2019, there have been “fewer than ten” requests.
“It’s an issue they’re trying to solve that doesn’t exist,” Madison said. “I don’t really understand their argument because trans girls are girls.”
Evie Edwards, a lifelong athlete and medalist in cycling from Asheville, argued the matter is about fairness for female athletes.
“It’s really unfair for biological women. We’ve already felt and dealt with that. It’s not about what an athlete looks like. It’s literally about their biological equipment,” she said.
Lawmakers did not take any action on the bill Wednesday.
In an email, Dory MacMillan, a spokesperson for Gov. Roy Cooper (D), wrote: “North Carolina knows how damaging discriminatory legislation is to people, their families, and our economy. As the state emerges from the pandemic, legislators should focus on the critical issues at hand to help North Carolina recover and build back stronger.”