Legislators in at least five states have introduced bills in recent weeks that would require athletes in high school and lower grades to compete on teams that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.
The bills in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, New Hampshire and Washington are intended to prevent what has happened in Connecticut, where two biological boys who identify as girls have won multiple girls’ state championship track titles.
Tennessee state Rep. Bruce Griffey introduced the bill in his state.
“There’s no ill will intended toward anyone regarding this legislation,” Griffey, a Republican, told WTVF. “What it’s simply trying to do is, I think science and experience and just society – we all know that traditionally males generally have bigger hearts, bigger upper body strength, and that can give them a genetic advantage when competing against women in a number of sports.”
Georgia state Rep. Philip Singleton, a Republican, said his bill would prevent biological males from having an “unfair advantage” if they choose to compete as females. His bill would not impact team sports such as football and basketball.
“The Student Athlete Protection Act is designed to ensure that biological boys will only compete in sports against other biological boys and vice-versa for girls,” Singleton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The intent of my bill is to make sure every student has the opportunity to compete fairly.”
Last year, a legal group representing three female Connecticut high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, asserting that the state’s governing body is violating federal law by allowing boys to compete in girls-only events.
The complaint said the “basic physiological differences between males and females after puberty are readily apparent from the record books.” For example, the complaint said, the fastest 800-meter indoor time by a high school boy in 2019 was 110.57 seconds – 13 seconds better than the fastest girl (123.98). The fastest 400-meter outdoor time for a boy (44.84) was nearly seven seconds less than the fastest girl (51.47).
It’s a similar argument made by three current or former female athletes – Doriane Coleman, Martina Navratilova and Sanya Richards-Ross – in a Washington Post column last year.
“The evidence is unequivocal that starting in puberty, in every sport except sailing, shooting and riding, there will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition,” they wrote. “Claims to the contrary are simply a denial of science.”
The difference in on-field and on-track results, they noted, isn’t “the result of boys and men having a male gender identity, more resources, better training or superior discipline.”
“It’s because they have androgenized bodies,” they wrote.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.