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Utah Bill Banning Trans Girls From Competing In Girls’ School Sports Stalls In State Legislature

There are currently no transgender high school athletes, according to the Utah High School Activities Association.
Chip Griffin/ Flickr
There are currently no transgender high school athletes, according to the Utah High School Activities Association.

A Utah Senate committee voted to adjourn their meeting Wednesday night without voting on a transgender sports bill. The bill would have barred transgender girls from competing in girls’ school sports.

The original bill was was an outright ban, but the legislation was tweaked slightly Wednesday to allow transgender girls to be on girls’ teams without competing against other schools. Gov. Spencer Cox said last week he would not sign an earlier version of the bill, but did not comment on these changes.

Still, it wasn’t enough to convince lawmakers to advance the bill. Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said he was torn on the legislation.

“I have a hard time with this bill because I have people I know who are trans — family members, friends of mine — who I desperately love,” he said. “And yet I have this biological understanding of human development that throws that into stark contrast. And I don't know how to reconcile the two … So I hate your bill.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, said she tried to balance fairness and inclusion while drafting the new version of the bill.

“This bill is never about not including others,” Birkeland said. “This bill has been about preserving women's sports. … There are many advantages of being a part of a team. Not everybody who's on a team plays in the game.”

Currently, transgender students are required to be on hormone therapy for a year before competing in sports. However, there are no transgender high school athletes currently, according to the Utah High School Activities Association. Transgender athletes are allowed to compete at the college and Olympic level.

Several transgender women testified at Wednesday night’s hearing, including Sue Robbins. She is on Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council.

“Transgender girls are not only not dominant, but they are vastly underrepresented,” she said. “If someone wants to say we should be compromising, I say we already have the compromise. We have to have medical interventions in order to be able to compete, which some don't have access to.”

This legislation is one of two anti-trans bills lawmakers considered this year. The other would ban minors from accessing gender affirming healthcare. Both bills now face major legislative roadblocks.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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