Following a landslide vote of 27 to 6 on Monday night, the Tennessee Senate has passed SB228/HB3, a new bill that prevents transgender student athletes from competing in middle and high school sports under their preferred gender identity.
According to The Tennessean, the legislation was filed by Republican Senator Joey Hensley of Hohenwald and Republican Representative Scott Cepicky of Culleoka. Under the new bill, there will be no exceptions for transgender athletes who are receiving gender-affirming care like hormone blockers.
The passing of the bill preventing biological males from competing in high school girls' sports stems from the recently passed Equality Act, which legally prohibits the discrimination against any individual based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
Under the controversial Equality Bill, institutions can no longer turn away transgender individuals on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation, which means that sports teams and organizations will be forced to accept biologically born males who identify as female to compete in women's sports.
The Tennessee Senate believes that by passing SB228/HB3 or the bill preventing biological males from competing in high school girls' sports, they are able to "promote fairness." However, LGBTQ rights activists were quick to claim that the bill was designed to discriminate against transgender individuals and that "the science behind the bill [is] misplaced."
Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was critical of allowing transgender girls to complete in middle and high school sports teams, as he believes will "destroy women's sports." In February, FOX News reported that as per the governor, "It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships. It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn't been there in some time. I think it's bad for women and for women's sports."
Tennessee is just one of at least 21 states that are pushing for more legislation preventing biological males from competing in high school girls' sports. At least six states have allowed a bill to pass at least one legislative chamber.
The need for such legislations to be passed come about from the increasing number of state high school athletic associations in the country that have allowed transgender athletes to play on teams based on their gender identity. Even the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has rules for its member schools to be trans-inclusive.
Following the Tennessee Senate's approval of the bill that prevents biological males from competing in high school girls' sports, rights activists unsurprisingly took aim at the new legislation. Tennessee Equality Project TEP Executive Director Chris Sanders decried the bill saying it was designed for the "discrimination against transgender students."
Sanders said that while it was "important" to protect women's rights, transgender girls "do not threaten" biological females because these transgender girls are "not elite athletes."
He failed to consider, however, that these transgender girls may grow up to become professional athletes. Some biologically female athletes have already experienced being on the receiving end of their transgender opponent's strength and believed it was unfair to compete against that level of strength. This law hopes to prevent that in the future.
The House has yet to schedule a final vote on SB228/HB3.