A second bill seeking to ban transgender girls from participating in girls sports has advanced in the Kentucky Legislature.
House Bill 23 would require all players on Kentucky middle school, high school and college girls sports teams to be listed as female on their birth certificates. It would allow students to sue schools that permit trans girls to play on girls sports teams, and be compensated at least $5,000 per violation for “psychological, emotional and physical harm.”
A similar measure that would only apply to K-12 students passed out of the Senate Education Committee last week.
Rep. Ryan Dotson, a Republican from Winchester and sponsor of the bill, said even though there haven’t been any complaints about trans people playing on school teams in Kentucky, he filed the measure to be “preemptive.”
“The reality is the problem does exist, and this problem will grow, and part of our role as the Legislature is to survey the land and look to see what is going on and try to get out ahead of those issues,” Dotson said.
States across the country have been considering similar bills to block trans athletes from school sports, with supporters arguing that trans girls have an unfair advantage over cisgender girls – females whose identity aligns with the gender and sex assigned at birth.
But critics say, without examples in Kentucky, the legislation amounts to an excuse to discriminate against trans people and could expose the state to lawsuits.
Jackie McGranahan, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said taxpayers will have to foot the legal cost if the state has to defend a law that is ultimately determined to be unconstitutional.
“Ultimately, this bill violates Title IX [of the Civil Rights Act], puts Kentucky at risk of losing money, harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that plainly doesn’t exist,” McGranahan said.
The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on Tuesday with a vote of 13-6. All Republicans on the committee voted in favor of it, except Lexington Rep. Killian Timoney, who said the bill was unnecessary.
Timoney said high suicide rates among young transgender people should be a “catastrophic red flag” against the bill.
“Currently we are looking at 50 trans athletes out of 200,000 NCAA athletes. For those non-math people in the house, that’s a .00025%. We’ve got time to do this right,” Timoney said.
Fisher Wells, a trans student at Westport Middle School who helped start her school’s field hockey team, argued against the bill, saying she wouldn’t be able to play if it passes.
“I’ve worked really hard to play this sport, I just hope you’ll let me play in 8th grade. I don’t really care if I play in high school, I just want to play,” Wells said.