Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Senate committee hears transgender athlete bill

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

A bill that aims to ban transgender girls from playing on girls teams gets a hearing, but little traction, in a state Senate committee.

The measure would require student athletes to compete on teams that correspond with their gender at birth - not the one with which they identify.

Republican Sen. Bryant Richardson, the bill sponsor, presented the legislation to the Senate Health and Social Services committee. He said the idea is to ensure a level playing field.

"The inclusion of male-bodied athletes in women’s sports harms female athletes by decreasing the chance of female athletic success, taking away roster spots, playing time, and potential scholarships and in some sports, increasing the chances of injury particularly in soccer, field hockey and lacrosse," Richardson said.

Committee chair State Sen. Sarah McBride, a transgender woman, called the bill cruel and unnecessary.

“It makes it easy to forget we are talking about real people, real young people.  Being a trans kid in a world that so often rejects who you are is already hard enough and I don't understand why we would pass a law that makes their lives even harder,” she said.  

Instead, McBride and others said if the bill’s supporters want to address fairness in women’s sports, they would take steps to ensure girls have equitable equipment and access to private coaching.

Public testimony on the bill ran for more than an hour. Most were opposed to the measure saying it unfairly targets a vulnerable group of children and that there’s no evidence that transgender girls have an advantage in girls sports.

The bill was then circulated to committee members for their consideration. But with Democrats, who expressed opposition, outnumbering Republicans on the committee, it is unlikely to advance.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.