‘Inherent differences between men and women’
Idaho governor Brad Little signed a bill on Monday prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in girls and women’s sports. The bill, known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, says “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.”
The bill states that any dispute over a student’s sexuality can be resolved with a physician’s statement indicating the student’s sex based on “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” or “the student’s genetic makeup.”
In an unusual move, the governor’s office did not issue a statement upon signing the bill.
The bill notes there are “inherent differences between men and women,” stating that these differences “remain cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity,” quoting a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The new Idaho law is the latest development in an ongoing controversy over biological males participating in sports designated for females. In Connecticut, three female high-school track competitors and their mothers have filed a federal lawsuit challenging their state’s policy of allowing biological males to compete in girls’ sports.
“I am so happy that female athletes in Idaho will not have to face an unfair playing field as I have in Connecticut,” said Chelsea Mitchell, one of the athletes challenging her state’s policy, in a statement.
“I have lost four state championships because my state’s policy ignores the physical advantages males have over females in sports and allows males to compete in the girls’ category,” said Mitchell.
“Four times I was the fastest female in my race, but I didn’t get the gold medal or the state title; the males in my race took that honor,” said Mitchell.
As a result of the Connecticut policy, two biological males have now won 15 women’s state championship titles.
In a statement, the ACLU of Idaho condemned Little’s decision to sign the bill, which it called “discriminatory, unconstitutional, and deeply hurtful.”
“Leaders from the business, faith, medical, education and athletics communities will not forget this decision or what it says about the governor’s priorities during a global pandemic,” said the ACLU, indicating that the group plans to challenge the new law in court.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner in a statement. The ADF is representing the Connecticut athletes in their federal lawsuit.
Waggoner argued allowing males to compete in girls’ sports “destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.”
“Comparably fit and trained males will always have physical advantages over females—that’s the reason we have girls’ sports,” said Waggoner. “When we ignore biological reality, female athletes lose medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete.”
Boise State University runner Lindsay Hecox, a transgender female, criticized the bill, saying it “specifically targets people like me and all transgender female athletes and denies us the opportunity to compete in sports.”
“It’s unfair, unnecessary and discriminatory, and it ignores the commitment we’ve made to rigorous training and the importance of athletic competition to our lives,” said Hecox, a freshman.
According to a Rasmussen poll conducted in November of 2019, 51 percent of American adults oppose allowing transgender students to “participate on the sports teams of the gender they identify with,” as opposed to their biological sex. According to the poll, only 29 percent of Americans support allowing transgender athletes to compete based on their gender identity.
The Idaho bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt and Sen. Mary Souza. At the same time Little signed the bill, he signed a second bill which prohibits transgender people from obtaining a new birth certificate with their gender identity on it.