Georgia lawmaker wants to ban trans athletes from women’s sports

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A Georgia lawmaker wants to ban transgender women from competing in sports at public and private schools and colleges. His new bill is the latest salvo targeting young trans people in the state.

Rep. Philip Singleton, a Republican from Sharpsburg, introduced House Bill 276 on Thursday flanked by several lawmakers and dozens of female athletes. The measure would prevent transgender women from competing in female sports. It would also allow cis-gender female athletes to sue schools if they can prove they were denied an opportunity to participate in sports by a trans woman.

“If we ignore biological reality, if we ignore the science, our daughters get hurt. Right now, girls are losing medals, podium spots, public recognition, scholarships and opportunities to compete,” Singleton said during a press conference at the State Capitol.

“Allowing biological males to compete in girls sports spells the end of girls sports,” he added.

Singleton said his bill doesn’t discriminate. He defended it as a measure to “protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.”

“No one here is concerned with how any person chooses to identify their gender,” he said. “We believe every single athlete should have the opportunity to compete, and there is no place for identity politics or discrimination of any type in sports.”

“This is about biology and physiology, not psychology or sociology,” Singleton added. “This is about protecting our daughters, our sisters and our mothers.”

LGBTQ groups denounced the legislation as an attack on transgender people. They said it would sideline trans athletes and prevent them from experiencing the positive aspects of athletic competition.

“This is a shameful attack on Georgia’s transgender youth and young adults,” Shannon Clawson, Georgia Equality’s statewide outreach manager, said in a press release. “The proposed legislation does nothing to protect or support girls sports, rather it serves only to spread hateful stereotypes and endangers children and their ability to fully participate in important extracurricular activities.”

The proposed legislation contradicts NCAA guidance for trans athletes and the organization’s anti-discrimination policy. Passing it could threaten a dozen NCAA championships scheduled to take place in Georgia in the coming years, Clawson said. It could also damage Georgia’s efforts to host World Cup matches in 2026.

“These actions will jeopardize our state’s ability to host important sporting events such as the World Cup and various NCAA events,” Clawson said.

When he introduced the bill, Singleton cited a state policy in Connecticut that allows students to play on teams that match their gender identity. The Alliance Defending Freedom, which supported past anti-LGBTQ efforts in Georgia, is suing to overturn that state’s policy.

Singleton couldn’t cite any examples in Georgia of conflicts with trans athletes participating in sports.

“We don’t always wait until after the travesties occurred. You know, sometimes we want to make sure we protect the travesty from happening,” Singleton said.

Singleton said trans athletes should compete in sports based on their gender at birth and not their gender identity.

“My message to transgender athletes is keep competing, we want you to compete, get out there. This is not about identity. We support your right to identify however you want to identify and we want you to compete,” he said.

“Biologically, they would compete with those of the same biological sex as they are,” he added.

The legislation bolsters an anti-LGBTQ record Singleton has built since taking office in 2019. In 2020, he voted against a historic LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes bill that passed with bipartisan support. Also last year, he co-sponsored a bill that critics said could lead to discrimination against LGBTQ students on college campuses.

In 2019, Singleton introduced a bill that would ban transgender youth from competing in athletic events at public facilities. The measure stalled in the 2020 legislative session disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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