BATON ROUGE — Legislation that would ban transgender girls from playing on a female sports team passed without a single objection in the Senate Education Committee last week.
A recent influx of similar bills has appeared around the country and have received the label “anti-trans” by activists. The bill, written by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, will head to the Senate for a vote. Mizell said this bill “protects female athletes.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he opposes the bill and will seek to veto it along with other bills that impose restrictions on transgender people.
Melissa Flournoy, a former Louisiana legislator, testified in opposition to the bill, calling it “unnecessary” and warning that the NCAA has said it will not host championship games in states that pass laws that discriminate against transgender athletes.
“I hope you understand the national business climate and how these anti-transgender bills affect our ability to keep the Sugar Bowl,” said Flournoy. She pointed out that New Orleans is scheduled to host the NCAA Final Four in 2022.
Eddie Bonine, the executive director of Louisiana High School Athletic Association, said there has not been an occurrence of a transgender student wanting to play sports. He supported the bill as he sees it solidifying LHSAA’s current policy.
Dylan Waguespack of True Colors Unite, a youth homeless outreach program that focuses on the LGBTQ community, said LHSAA policies have already eliminated the chance for transgender students to play sports.
The LHSAA policy states that a transgender student can play sports if the surgical and anatomical changes have been completed.
“A minor would never receive those procedures,” said Waguespack.
No law in Louisiana prohibits gender reassignment surgery for minors, but guidelines posted by the Endocrine Society state that the operation should not take place until the individual is 18.
Appearing in favor of the bill, Sheila Thompson Johnson, wife to Rep. Mike Johnson and a former Louisiana women’s basketball coach, said that the physical advantage of people born as males would outcompete female student-athletes for scholarship opportunities.
“I believe in fairness and equality,” Johnson said. “I believe in protecting women and preserving the unique opportunities set aside for them in the law.”
Johnson, a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, said the scholarship awarded to her for basketball was the only way her family could afford a secondary education.
“Today, those scholarships that sent me and my sister to college, scholarships that were specifically set aside for women in athletics, are threatened by those who advocate to allow biological men to compete as women, despite men having a clear biological advantage over them,” Johnson said.
In opposition, Dr. Clifton Mixon, a New Orleans child psychologist, called the bill discriminative and said it “approaches a very complex subject with a mallet.”
“Prior to puberty, all children, men and women have the exact same amount of testosterone,” said Mixon. “This bill will attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The International Olympic Committee began allowing transgender athletes to participate in 2004.