POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Where the law stands on transgender athletes competing in Utah

Dec 11, 2023, 6:50 PM | Updated: 9:00 pm

transgender athletes in Utah...

West High School students protest the Utah Legislature's passage of HB11, which bans transgender girls from participating in female school sports, in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. The conversation of transgender athletes competing in school sports is being debated nationally. What is Utah's stance on the topic? (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The conversation of transgender athletes competing in high school sports continues across the United States.  It has states working to understand what role, if any, they play in policymaking regarding this topic. What’s the situation in Utah?

The question comes after Utah lawmakers passed a law in 2022 that bans transgender students from participating in school sports. After lawmakers passed the bill, two Utah families filed a lawsuit challenging the law. Today, the law is on hold while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

As a result, transgender students in Utah may now be permitted to participate in school sports but only on a case-by-case basis. The decision comes down to a commission of politically appointed experts from the athletic and medical fields.

Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan is one of the original sponsors of the bill. She told KSL NewsRadio she wants all kids to participate in sports, however, it’s a matter of where and when. She said it comes down to the child’s safety and competitive advantage.

How transgender athletes in Utah can participate in school sports

A review by the commission, according to Birkeland, applies to both transgender boys and transgender girls. It only comes into play in certain situations. For example, if a transgender girl (someone who has transitioned from male to female) wants to play in a male school sport.

“If this youth is in the process of transitioning from woman to male, female to man, … he shouldn’t necessarily be on the boy’s teams … Biologically, this young man still has the body mass and everything of a girl,” Birkeland said.

Birkeland said four student-athletes have gone through the process of a commission review. The commission looks at and considers a student’s height and weight among other things. However, this depends on the sport.

“Obviously, for golf, it’s very different, versus volleyball,” Birkeland said. “Height is a huge advantage in volleyball. It might not necessarily be the biggest advantage for golf.”

She said the commission is made up of people who make judgments based on individual sports. They then decide if there are any safety concerns or unfair athletic advantages.

“We don’t tell them what information they (trans-student-athletes) must provide,” she said. “We just tell them to provide the information that will help the commission make the best decision as regards to safety and competitive advantage.”

As far as Birkeland is aware, she said, none of the four students have been approved by the commission. She said this doesn’t concern her, because she trusts the experts on the commission.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

Marijuana grows at Tryke Companies Utah's medical cannabis cultivation facility in Tooele...

Michael Camit

Ironing out Utah’s Medical Cannabis Program

Medical marijuana is one of Utah's most regulated substances, but lawmakers are still trying to iron out the wrinkles in the program.

10 hours ago

utah capitol pictured, a new law centers adoption legal expenses open records utah...

Curt Gresseth

Bill creating Utah AI lab advances, would test tech, prevent missteps

SB 149 would create an AI lab and test technology while protecting the public in Utah.

11 hours ago

a hockey stick shown, utah may get a nhl stadium...

Adam Small

Utah lawmaker asks for $1 billion for an NHL stadium in Salt Lake City

To fund an NHL stadium in Utah, Salt Lake City's sales tax rate would go from 7.75% to 8.25% if the bill is approved.

17 hours ago

the state capitol is pictured, the utah supreme court is seeking more information about a redistric...

Peter Johnston

Voters’ choice: change Utah’s constitution, get rid of food sales tax

In November, voters will have the option to change the state constitution. The alteration would indirectly get rid of Utah's food sales tax.

20 hours ago

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, speaks about HB261 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19,...

Aimee Cobabe

Lawmaker wants to increase maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments

Utah lawmakers are supporting a bill to increase the maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments.

1 day ago

small utah flag shown, utah senate will hear a bill about public record laws...

Don Brinkerhoff

Legislation to exclude government employees’ daily calendars from public record moves forward

One Utah lawmaker says the existing laws about what is or isn't public record already excludes government employees' daily calendars.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Where the law stands on transgender athletes competing in Utah