INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier transgender girls would be banned from playing on girls’ sports teams under a bill passed 66-30 by the Indiana House Thursday.
Only Republicans voted for the measure, which Democrats said was putting discrimination into state code.
"The purpose of this bill is to maintain fair competition in girls’ sports now and in the future," said Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland.
House Bill 1041, which now goes to the Senate, creates a civil action for a violation and grants immunity to schools and athletic associations acting in compliance.
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said there is some interest in the bill in his Republican caucus.
"We've been receiving some comments about…it's a fairness for young ladies who are trying to compete, and at least to some folks, it doesn't feel fair if you allow somebody who at least started out as a male is to go in and compete with them in the in the same sport," he said.
Davis said it isn’t fair for "biological males" to compete against girls because they have physical advantages. As an example, she said in one year 275 high school boys ran faster than the lifetime best of world champion female sprinter Allyson Felix.
Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute, said in sixth grade she was one of the first girls allowed to play on a boys soccer team. She said they made each other better and kids don't care who they play with.
"The bill sends a message and it's a bad one," Pfaff said.
Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said the Indiana High School Athletic Association has a system in place to deal with transgender athletes and no problems have been found in Indiana.
He encouraged his Republican colleagues to focus on basic GOP ideologies – "government doesn't have to do everything; doesn't have to be involved in everything."
The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people, condemned the Indiana House for restricting transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.
"The justification for this bill is based in fiction, but the impacts it will have on young people in Indiana are very real. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. 85% say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health – and 1 in 3 tell us they are scared," said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs.
"The Trevor Project urges Indiana lawmakers to reject this unfair bill and direct their energy in this historically difficult time toward making sure youth are supported, not excluded."
All of northeast Indiana’s Republican House members supported the bill; Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, opposed it.