Missouri bill would restrict transgender athletes to play on sports teams matching gender assigned at birth

Published: Feb. 25, 2020 at 5:41 PM CST
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State Senator Cindy O'Laughlin, R-Shelby County, says transgender athletes have an unfair advantage over those who are naturally born male or female.

"It is a known biological fact that males are born with categorically superior strength, speed, and endurance," O'Laughlin said during a State Senate Education Committee hearing Tuesday.

She filed a bill that would ban transgender athletes in high school from playing on teams that doesn't match their birth gender.

"It has nothing to do with any other issue than trying to create a fair playing field," O'Laughlin added.

Dr. Tom Jackson, a licensed chiropractor in Missouri, says O'Laughlin's biology claim is wrong.

"I can tell you as someone who does train and treat transgender athletes on a daily basis, even professional ones, that they have no distinct advantage in competition," Jackson said.

Danielle Meart, a mother of a transgender boy, agreed. She cited wrestling news from North Carolina from over the weekend.

"A cisgendered female, born female, identifies as female beat a boy, born male, identifies as male, beat him in the state [wrestling] championship this weekend in North Carolina," Meart said. "There is no advantage."

Transgender athletes also testified against the bill. One was born a girl, but identifies as a boy.

"Putting me on the girls activities won't make me a girl," said the athlete. "This bill will force me on the girls teams where I end up beating every single girl on my high school cross country team in every race, and I'd have placed 28th in the state as a freshman."

Right now, for Missouri's transgender athletes to play on a team that doesn't match their birth gender, they have to apply to the Missouri State High School Activities Association, or MSHSAA.

They have to provide medical records and other documentation.

For transgender women, they have to prove they've been on testosterone blockers for a full calendar year, and must remain on them.

It's something opponents of the bill believe is already working to keep athletics fair.

"They have provided fair and inclusive parameters for inclusion in sports," said Jennifer Mock, a mother of a transgender athlete. "These parameters allow my son to play the game [of hockey] he's always wanted to play with his childhood peers."

There is a similar bill in the Missouri House that would also restrict transgender athletes, and bar girls from playing high school football.

Neither the House or Senate versions have been voted out of committee. If either is approved by the General Assembly, it will be put to a vote of the people.