The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that, if passed by the Republican-controlled House, would ban trans women and girls from female sports teams.
Kansas governor Laura Kelly branded the bill “regressive” amid heated debate about the bill on Wednesday (17 March), during which several male Republican senators repeatedly referred to trans girls as “biological boys”.
Senate minority leader Dinah Sykes, a Kansas City-area Democrat, called the measure – which would require public schools and colleges to categorise sports teams by students sex assigned at birth – “hateful” and “rooted in bigotry”.
“I appreciate several of my male colleagues telling me how they want to protect the underdog, how men are superior. I actually find that rather misogynistic and rude,” she said. “Excluding women who are trans hurts all women.”
The anti-trans bill is one of dozens attacking trans youth that have been introduced in more than 20 US states by conservative Republicans, backed by anti-LGBT+ Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.
Republicans across the US claim that excluding trans women and girls from female sports teams protects “fairness” in women’s sports – but, according to an Associated Press investigation, in almost every case the sponsor of each bill cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.
Many instead cite a Connecticut federal discrimination complaint, brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was filed last year by three high-school students who claim that two trans girls have an unfair physical advantage over them in athletics competitions. The Trump administration vocally backed the attack on trans athletes, but Joe Biden has withdrawn government support for the resultant lawsuit seeking to ban trans girls from high school sports in Connecticut.
In Kansas, the state association that oversees school sports said it knows of five trans students currently playing high- and middle-school sports, and that there have been no trans school sports champions.
Republican senator Mark Steffen, an anaesthesiologist, said that the bill is based on the “indisputable physiological fact” that “the male [is] a genetically and time-engineered superior machine”.
Senator Virgil Peck, also a Republican, said he voted for the bill, which passed 24-10, because he believes in “old-fashioned chivalry” and wants to take a stand for “young ladies, natural-born females”.
“Have we — men — given away our manpower to the snowflakes? Are we going to allow someone to carry around our manhood in their fanny pack or in their purse?” Peck said. “Are there no longer any alpha males who will stand and defend our young ladies, our wives, our daughters, our granddaughters, our neighbors’ wives, daughters, and granddaughters?”
Kelly has not promised to veto the bill if it passes in the House, but instead pointed to her previous record on LGBT+ issues, which includes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state hiring or employment decisions on her second day in office in 2019.