SPORTS

Latest version of bill allows trans athletes to compete in their gender’s sports

Jan 26, 2022, 11:21 AM | Updated: Jan 27, 2022, 9:16 am
trans athlete bill...
Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, left, speaks about transgender youth in school sports during a Health and Human Services Interim Committee meeting at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Seated next to Birkeland is Sue Robbins, who serves on the Transgender Advisory Council of Equality Utah. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Local transgender advocates say they’ve been in talks for the last year with the sponsors of the bill that originally banned Utah’s transgender girls from playing high school sports. Now, the bill allows trans athletes to compete in the sports of their gender, with some stipulations.

After one year of discussions, transgender advocates and state lawmakers seem to have found at least some middle ground on a bill about transgender athletes in Utah.

House Bill 302, initially titled, “Preserving Sports for Female Students,” banned Utah’s transgender girls from playing in girls high school sports. Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan) and Senator Curtis Bramble (R-Provo) sponsored the bill. It required schools and local education agencies to designate athletic activities by sex.

One year later, the bill about trans athletes looks very different

A new version of the transgender athlete bill would allow for trans girls to play and compete in girls sports. However, trans girls would only be able to participate in the sport of their gender after they’ve completed one year of hormone therapy.

The latest version also stipulates that trans boys on testosterone must compete in boys sports. The bill would also require student athletes to change their birth certificate to match their gender. 

Equality Utah‘s trans advocate Sue Robbins said says this new bill is similar to a policy recently adopted by Utah’s High School Athletics Association.

trans athlete bill

Troy Williams, Equality Utah executive director, speaks in opposition of HB302 during a House Education Committee meeting at the State Office Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The bill would bar transgender athletes at public schools to participate in girls sports. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Discussions are ongoing

Robbins said she is glad the discussions have come this far, but that she can’t support the bill without it better clarifying some language. She also expressed the birth certificate requirement seems extra.

Robbins said conversations with the bill’s sponsors are still happening, and both sides seem committed to coming to an agreement on the bill. 

“Utah is leading the way in actually having discussions here,” said Robbins. 

The bill has a favorable recommendation from a committee meaning it will get heard this legislative session. 

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