COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A bill passed in the Ohio House of Representatives aims to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports, but Democrats are highlighting a line in the bill they call “sick” and “disturbing.”

The Save Women’s Sports Act — added inside of Substitute House Bill 151 on the same day as the start of Pride Month — 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.

Sub. HB 151 also includes a line that requires 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.

It’s this portion of the bill, involving that Ohio Democrats have zeroed in on, appalled at what they say could require genital inspections for school athletes.

“This… is nothing short of state-sanctioned sexual abuse,” said Democratic Rep. Jessica Miranda.

Some doctors are taking the Democrats’ side as well, including OhioHealth OB-GYN Dr. Anita Somani.

“Illegally forcing children to undergo medically unnecessary genital inspections and internal exams to play sports is horrifying,” Somani said.

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.”

This is not the first time that 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, too.

Powell gave this statement to NBC4 on the passage of HB 151.

“By passing the Save Women’s Sports Act as an amendment to HB 151 last week, the House sent a strong message that we will protect fairness in sports for women and girls in our state.

By an overwhelming margin, Americans and Ohioans believe individuals should compete on sports teams according to their biological gender. Public polling aside, this is simply the right thing to do. Women and girls in Ohio should never lose championships, medals, scholarships, or education and training opportunities to biological men. Parents should have the peace of mind that their daughters will always face an equal playing field in our state. 

It is again up to the Senate to pass the Save Women’s Sports Act. It’s time for the Senate to do the right thing – to protect athletic opportunity for women and girls in the state of Ohio.”

Rep. Jena Powell

The Ohio High School Athletic Association also gave its own statement about the controversial bill.

“The Ohio High School Athletic Association does not support the amendment to HB151 addressing the transgender sports 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. Of note, there have only been a total of 13 transgender female athletes who have participated in OHSAA sports since the 2015-16 school year, and only three of those athletes have played girls sports at the high school level. The remaining athletes were in 7th or 8th grade. We are hopeful the necessary conversations can be had so the General Assembly can make an informed decision based on Ohio’s specific regulations and safeguards.”


Although representatives passed Sub. HB 151, senators won’t be able to take action on the bill until Sept. 21 at the earliest.