The Indiana House Education Committee approved a bill Monday that would prohibit children who were born male from playing on girls’ sports teams in schools in the state.
The vote was 8-4 in favor of passage, with all Republicans present voting for it, and the four Democrats on the committee voting against it.
House Bill 1041 was authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Greenwood, with three representatives as co-authors – Rep. Chris Jeter, R-Fishers, Rep. Joanna King, R-Middlebury, and Rep. Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute.
The bill says a male “based on a student’s biological sex at birth in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology,” may not play on a female sports team at a public, charter or private school.
It also allows for a grievance process whereby a parent or student can submit a grievance to a school or school corporation they believe is in violation of this law.
The bill originally would have also applied to colleges but was amended to apply only to K-12 schools.
“The purpose of this bill is to maintain fair competition in girls’ sports, now and in the future,” said Davis.
Kris Hunt, a physician and the national medical director for USA Power Lifting, testified in support of the bill, sharing research with the committee comparing male and female strength, saying males have a 64% strength advantage even after controlling for weight class.
He also said steroids only make a difference of about 10% in strength, not decreasing the gap between someone born male over someone born a female.
A state representative from Idaho, who passed a similar bill in that state and was also a Division I women’s basketball player and coach for 15 years, said bills like this are essential to protect opportunities for women in athletics.
She described what happened in Idaho, when a college athlete from Montana who had competed as a male for three years as John Eastwood changed his name to “June” and decided to compete as a female in Idaho.
“June competed against our Idaho state athletes and annihilated them,” said Rep. Barbara Ehardt, a Republican.
If one biological male joins one female team, coaches of other teams also have to attract biological males to compete, she said.
“You can see how quickly our opportunities for our girls and women will be dashed when we start allowing biological males to dominate and take away our opportunities,” she told Indiana legislators.
Charles Powell, an associate professor of neurology at the IU School of Medicine, quoted from a meta-study by researcher Joanna Harper that looked at all studies over 20 years comparing biological males undergoing hormone therapy to biological females, quoting Harper’s finding that, “there was absolutely no question that trans women will maintain strength advantages over CIS gendered women, even after testosterone suppression.”
Several mothers of student athletes testified in favor of the bill, telling legislators girls must be able to compete on a level playing field, only with other biological females. People who are born male, they said, have more muscle mass, greater bone density, and greater lung capacity, all of which provide biological males with an automatic advantage.
One mother told committee members her four children – two girls and two boys – are all competitive swimmers and that she realized the extent of the biological differences between her sons and daughters when her son, as a freshman in high school swimming the 1-mile event for the first time, was able to beat her daughter’s time, though she was three years older and had trained to compete in the 1-mile event for years.
More than two dozen people testified in opposition to the bill, with one man, Brian Harris, who identified himself as “trans” and also as a Marine veteran and expectant father, said he sees the bill as “harmful to transgender kids living their lives authentically.”
“This bill isolates trans kids and puts their mental health at risk,” he said, citing a recent study by the Trevor Project that found that 85% of transgender youth say the atmosphere of political attacks harms their mental health.
Dr. Lauren Bell, a pediatrician speaking on behalf of the Indiana Academy of Pediatricians, said the academy opposes the bill, saying it “would harm children in Indiana.”
“Gender identity is a well-established concept in medicine that refers to a person’s internal sense of being male or female,” she told the committee. “Every person has a gender identity and many children develop stability in their gender identity between ages 3 and 4.”
Bell said an estimated 0.7% of teens ages 13-17 in Indiana identify as transgender, amounting to about 3,350 people.
The Indiana State Teachers Association also testified in opposition to the bill.
“The overwhelming majority of transgender youth, like most kids, don’t even play at elite levels,” said ISTA lobbyist John O’Neal. “They just want to play every day schools sports and participate with their peers…When school officials recognize that a transgender girl is a girl during the school day but then treat her as if she’s a boy when school practice starts, it’s harmful to the student and disrupts the school’s policy of treating all kids fairly.”
The ACLU also spoke in opposition to the bill and indicated it will sue if the bill passes and becomes law.
Matt Sharp with Alliance Defending Freedom testified in favor of the bill, but said the organization opposed the amendment that removed the bill’s application to colleges in the state.
Sharp spoke of the cases his organization is fighting nationally, saying they are seeing more and more instances where biological men are taking away women’s championships, records and “countless athletic opportunities.”
Just after the committee voted, a loud chant broke out among activists in the balcony, with some yelling profanities at legislators below . After a short pause, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Bob Behning, proceeded with the committee’s business and concluded the hearing.
This article was originally posted on Indiana committee passes bill to stop transgender boys from playing on girls sports teams