TOPEKA, (KSNT)—A push to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports is back in Kansas.
The Senate voted 27 to 12 to pass Bill 484 Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the state Senate held a lengthy debate on Senate Bill 484, a controversial measure that would ban transgender student-athletes from participating in women’s sports.
Senator Mark Steffen, a Republican from Hutchinson, who supports the measure, argues that biological differences that stem from an early age can create a competitive disadvantage.
“Scientifically, the difference goes way beyond puberty,” Sen. Steffen said. “It starts in utero and progresses through even the elementary age.”
The Senate recommended the bill be passed on Monday. After a final action vote Tuesday, it will move to the House.
The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Renee Erickson, R-Wichita, is also known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” It requires all interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, and club athletic teams that are sponsored by public educational institutions to be expressly designated as one of the following, based on the biological sex of the team members:
- Males, men, or boys;
- Females, women, or girls; or
- Coed or mixed.
The bill would also clarify that teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls “shall not be open to students of the male sex.”
Opponents of the plan argue that it would exclude transgender children from participating in sports under the gender they identify in.
Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Democrat from Lenexa, argued that everyone’s body is “different” and there’s no evidence that the average transgender girl is “bigger, stronger, or faster” than any other woman.
“The majority of transgender athletes, like cisgender athletes never make it to an elite level..they just want to play and have fun with their friends…especially at school,” Sen. Sykes said.
The bill passed both chambers last year, but it was vetoed by the governor.
If the bill passes into law this year, it will require the state’s high school activities association (KSHSAA) and the Board of Regents to be in charge of how the rules are enforced in schools.
Something some activist groups have worried about is what that could look like.
In a hearing, Thomas Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas, expressed concerns about how the rules would be implemented.
“Basically what we’re talking about is boys and girls playing kickball in kindergarten are going to be at risk or forced into genital inspections,” Witt said.