MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama House Committee Wednesday advanced a bill to ban transgender athletes from playing on public college sports teams that do not align with their biological sex.
During a public hearing, proponents say the bill protects the progress women have made in sports. Opponents say it’s going after a problem that doesn’t exist and targeting trans youth.
Jeff Walker was the only person to speak against the bill during the hearing.
“I came down here today already realizing what the outcome was going to be, but I needed to have the voice of people who are being marginalized heard,” Walker said.
Walker is the parent of a transgender child and says legislation like this makes it hard for his family to want to stay in Alabama. He says he’s been coming to the statehouse for the past four years to protest legislation limiting transgender youth.
“It demonstrates to us that we’re not supported by the state, they don’t really care about us, about our kids, and their representation. My daughter graduates in a couple of years and she’s made it very clear she’s not going to stay in a state that hates her,” Walker said.
Other speakers supported the bill, citing physical advantages males have in athletics, saying the bill protects women’s right to fair competition.
University of South Alabama sophomore Jasmine Stawarski spoke in support of the bill, talking about her own positive experiences having played basketball and softball.
“Being part of team, learning to work with others. I really credit sports to shaping a lot of my life today, so I wanted to come and protect sports here at the University of South Alabama,” Stawarski said.
Stawarski says she can’t imagine having had to compete against a biological male.
“I remember times in sports I felt defeated, and I was playing against other biological women. It would feel unfair, it would probably drive me to quit my sport,” Stawarski said.
The bill also prohibits any government entity or athletic association from taking action against a school, or retaliating against a student who reports a violation of the act.
House bill sponsor Rep. Susan DuBose says this bill would not impact co-ed teams that already exist. The next step for the bill is the House floor.