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Missouri House votes to ban trans athletes on girls teams

Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 17:48:41-04

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Transgender girls would be banned from playing on girls' sports teams under a bill that advanced Wednesday in the Missouri House.

House lawmakers voted 100-51 to add the provision to another bill, sidestepping the more-typical process that requires approval from several committees.

The change would require transgender student athletes to compete on teams that align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Rep. Chuck Basye, a Rocheport Republican, said the measure would apply to public K-12 schools and might also apply to colleges and universities. Lawmakers voted without clarifying that question.

Missouri's current public high school sports rules prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they're undoing hormone therapy.

Supporters argued that it's unfair for transgender girls to compete against cisgender girls and that those girls shouldn't be allowed to share locker rooms.

"This is about doing the right thing: protecting girls," Basye said.

Basye said he also wants to enshrine the change in the state Constitution.

Republican lawmakers decried the risk of being called bigots, hateful or transphobic for supporting the rule, while Democrats at times wept and said the rule change could push transgender children to kill themselves.

Not all Republicans backed the change.

Suburban St. Louis Republican Rep. Shamed Dogan said adopting the proposal would hurt the state's reputation and "make us look backwards."

He warned that it will hurt the economy and that applying the rule to college sports would mean losing out on NCAA events.

The NCAA in 2016 moved championships out of North Carolina in response to a bill legislating transgender people's use of public restrooms.

Dogan, a Black man, asked his mostly white, Republican and male colleagues to imagine the feeling of being the only person in a room who looks different.

"Even if we're not motivated by hatred, the effect of this will be exclusionary the effect of this will be harmful," Dogan said. "It's a solution in search of a problem rather than a problem that needs to be solved."