COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A provision requiring students to undergo “internal and external” exams to verify their sex has been removed from an Ohio bill aiming to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.
In the bill’s second hearing on Tuesday, Senate Republicans amended the Save Women’s Sports Act with a vote of 5-1 to include a new requirement that athletes whose “sex is disputed” must present a copy of their original birth certificate.
A previous version passed by the Ohio House of Representatives — added inside of Substitute House Bill 151 on the same day as the start of Pride Month — included a line that required a transgender person, or participant whose “sex is disputed,” to prove their sex with a signed physician’s statement including information about their “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” their testosterone levels, and an analysis of their genetic makeup.
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) called the provision requiring inspections an “error.”
“That was in an error when it was in the amendment in the House,” Cupp said Tuesday. “So, there is no objection to take it out; in fact, there [are] members who encourage it to come out.”
Still, the bill would require schools and universities to “designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.” While it does allow for co-ed teams for co-ed sports, it also bans anyone “of the male sex” to participate in any women’s sport in schools or interscholastic sports.
Since the 2015-16 school year, there have been 15 transgender student-athletes in Ohio: Seven transgender females in high school sports and eight transgender females at the 7/8 grade level, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Republicans, including Rep. Jena Powell who introduced the amendment to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports to an unrelated bill, argued that the legislation is for fair competition.
“All these girls ask for is a fair shot, and to be given the chance to play and win by the rules in the sports that they love,” Powell said. “The opportunity is being ripped from them by biological males.”
However, the OHSAA said in a statement it does not support the amendment addressing the transgender ban.
“The OHSAA believes that our current transgender policy is effective in protecting the integrity of girls’ sports while also providing participation opportunities for the highly vulnerable group of transgender students,” the statement read.
This is not the first time Powell tried to add a policy banning transgender athletes from women’s sports in existing legislation. Senate Bill 187, which focused on letting athletes sign endorsement deals for their name, image, and likeness, saw a similar amendment to ban transgender athletes added by Powell in the Ohio House after the original bill passed the Senate unanimously. That changed bill died when it went back to senators for a concurrence vote. A standalone bill the previous year failed as well.