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Opponents, supporters discuss Missouri bill placing limits on transgender athletes

Missouri House advanced bill Wednesday after days of debate
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - A bill that would place limitations on transgender athletes has advanced in the Missouri House.

The legislation has created a debate of fairness versus inclusion, coming along with emotion on both sides. Transgender girls would be banned from playing on girls’ sports teams under a bill that advanced Wednesday in the Missouri House.

House lawmakers voted 100-51 to add the provision to another bill, sidestepping the more-typical process that requires approval from several committees.

”It’s an issue of fairness,” Missouri Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, told KY3 over the phone on Thursday. “And it takes opportunities from young women, girls and their athletic opportunities.”

Basye said the measure would apply to public K-12 schools and might also apply to colleges and universities. Lawmakers voted without clarifying that question.

Under the bill, transgender student athletes would be required to compete on teams aligning with their sex assigned at birth. While supporters argue it is about leveling the playing field, opponents say it is retroactive and harmful to the state’s reputation.

”We want to set the precedent that Missouri is a safe, welcoming, affirmative place for people to live and raise their families,” said Shira Berkowitz with PROMO, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization. “And policies like this keep people from desiring to move here and [also] moving away from the state.”

Contenders argue prolonged economic impacts, but also emotional ones.

”Forcing a transgirl to play on a boys team has much more devastating consequences for that child’s mental health,” Berkowitz said.

Bullying and depression are among key concerns, and also limited opportunities.

”Transgender kids, specifically transgender girls, as they’re targeted in this bill, deserve the same chances to play sports and gain the lessons that being a part of a team teaches things like leadership skills and teamwork and sportsmanship,” Berkowitz said.

Supporters, however, say those opportunities will still exist noting the bill does not say transgender people cannot play sports.

”This does not take away any rights from anybody,” Bayse said. “This is an issue of fairness, a clear cut case for Title IX for women.”

Advocates also argue transgender girls should not be allowed to share locker rooms with other girls.

The bill will still need two more votes of approval by the full House before moving to the Senate.

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