Ohio House Republicans passed a bill late Tuesday that bans all transgender students from playing high school and college sports, and requires genital exams in any disputes.
Representatives voted on House Bill 151 on the first day of Pride Month. The measure next goes to the Senate after lawmakers return from summer recess. If the bill becomes law, it would take precedence over all current policies by high school and college sports associations.
The existing association policies, which aim to protect medical privacy and stress inclusion, take into account testosterone levels or the length of time an athlete has been transitioning, Cleveland.com reported. The new bill calls for an outright ban on transgender athletes.
Under the measure, if a player’s sex is disputed, he or she will have to present a physician’s statement about “internal and external reproductive anatomy” and testosterone levels. Students would also have to show an analysis of genetic makeup.
During a hearing on the bill, Rep. Beth Liston, a Columbus-area Democrat and physician, called the amendment “state-sanctioned bullying.”
“This is truly bizarre medically and nonsensical, but looking at it practically, this bill means that if anyone decides to question a child’s true gender, that child must undergo a sensitive exam,” Liston said.
“I struggle to understand why we keep discussing bills focusing on children’s genitals,” Liston added.
According to Equality Ohio and the Ohio High School Athletic Association, there is only one transgender athlete in the entire state who is participating in high school sports, per ABC affiliate News 5 TV.
“Being able to play on the girl’s team is absolutely amazing, it’s a total dream,” said Ember, a softball player and high school junior. “I feel at home and I can be myself. I don’t have to put on the mask or pretend to be someone else to enjoy the sport that I love.”
The Meidas Touch political action committee tweeted a copy of the bill Thursday, and critics were incensed: