DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in women’s sports in schools.
A similar bill is making its rounds at the Ohio Statehouse. The Save Women’s Sports Act would also implement a total ban on trans women and girls from competing in women’s sports.
If it goes into effect, House Bill 6 would ban trans athletes from playing sports at the grade school level and in college. The bill is in hearings at the Ohio Legislature.
Some proponents of the bill say it is saving women’s sports, but others say it is further marginalizing a group just trying to fit in.
One of the main arguments against trans athletes who are born male but identify as female is that they will be too physically strong for women athletes.
Gwyndolin Branwen, a trans athlete who is a recreational rugby player for the Dayton Area Rugby Club, has a different perspective.
“I am not the biggest girl on the team, and I frankly get thrown around by most of them,” Branwen said. “They are some powerful women, and it’s a shame to think that somebody who would like to be interacting in that space is being barred because they’re ‘not trans enough’ to be a trans women athlete.”
The proposed law would not affect Branwen, but she said she is concerned about youth like her not having the ability to learn some of the good values that sports can teach kids.
“They don’t have access to the same things,” Branwen added. “They don’t get to do the same things as a normal kid, and it just alienates them further. Especially in the fundamental phases of high school and stuff, that’s going to have a lot of negative effects on people’s mental and emotional states.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has maintained a policy for 8 years in which a trans athlete can participate, though there are several steps in order to play.
The main way for a trans female athlete who was born male to play on a girls team is to complete one year of hormone testing and demonstrate they do not have physical or physiological advantages over genetic females in that age group.
Rob Dement, the athletic director for Centerville City Schools, said while the school hasn’t had any athletes born male but identifying as female compete in a female sport, they rely on the Ohio High School Athletic Association for guidance.
“We just want everyone to feel comfortable and allow them to participate in the manner that they want to participate in, and then we would just follow the guidelines that are given to us,” Dement said. “That’s what we do. The bottom line is, we’ll just follow whatever we’re told that we have to do, to be honest with you.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has had 19 trans athletes participate since their policy was adopted starting with the 2015-16 school year.