Bill would ban trans athletes from teams matching gender identity


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill before the Michigan Legislature would require transgender athletes to compete in high school sports based on their biological anatomy at birth.

More than 20 states are considering similar legislation that would restrict transgender athletes.

Erin Knott, the executive director of the Detroit-based LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Michigan, argued the bill is unconstitutional and harmful.

“This legislation is hurtful to the student and it disrupts school policy of treating kids fairly,” Knott said.

Knott said Senate Bill 218 would prevent transgender youths from playing with the team associated with their gender identity.

“Senate Republicans are unnecessarily targeting trans youth with legislation, which is an overt coordinated multistate attack on our most vulnerable young population,” Knott said.

State Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, a co-sponsor of the bill, argued it would level the playing field.

“It’s about fairness and equity in high school sports and this is something where I think you see the vast majority of Americans that support this concept and idea,” Nesbitt said.

He said the legislation would apply only when both boys and girls teams are available.

“This doesn’t prohibit folks if there’s only one team, so like a volleyball team or football team,” Nesbitt said. “It allows folks to play on those from either sex.”

Nesbitt said some transgender athletes have an unfair advantage.

“You’re starting to see nationally where some of these biological males are playing on women’s teams and they’re breaking records, they’re preventing other women from getting grants and scholarships,” Nesbitt said.

Knott said there is no advantage and that people backing the bill are creating a controversy based on something that’s not a problem.

“It’s a myth and a mistruth that they somehow have a competitive advantage over cisgender students in school sports,” Knott said. “We’re talking about one, maybe two, students in school communities across the state of Michigan. This isn’t a problem and I firmly believe let the kids play.”

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