Why SB 480 Is Good for Women and Sports

What is SB 480?

SB 480 is the Senate version of HB 1251. If passed, it would provide that participation in women’s sports in NH will be preserved for biological women. Cornerstone strongly supports SB 480. You can find the full text of the bill here

Why we support SB 480:

Recognizing the inherent performance and biological distinctions between male and female athletes, sports have been historically separated by sex category. Women’s sports has been further protected under Title IX which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” With the inclusion of biological males who “self-select” as female, we are invalidating any sex-based distinction, essentially making all sports co-ed. We are already seeing the impact of this policy in other states where biological females are being pushed off the podium by biological males. NH enacted legislation (SB 263) last fall widely expanding “anti-discrimination” protections to transgender individuals in schools, so the full impact on women’s sports has yet to be felt here (but it has started). However, we need only to look at other states such as Connecticut with a longer history of similar policy to see the inevitable outcomes. Women deserve a level playing field and preservation of their opportunity to participate and to win.

Questions Answered.

Q. Is SB 480 unfair to transgender athletes?

A. No. Sports have historically been separated by biological sex, not a subjective self-assessment. This bill simply clarifies that one’s feelings about gender identity do not remove that distinction. We don’t put a 16-year-old on a U10 soccer team because they act immature or identify as a younger age. That would be unsafe and unfair. By putting biological males on sport teams designated for females because of the sex they feel they are (or identify with), we are declaring all teams co-ed. At the highest level of competition where only the elite succeed, the makeup of athletes competing in female sports would skew heavily male. That is unsafe and unfair. Creating a fair, level playing field for everyone should not sacrifice the integrity of women’s sports.

Q. Does SB 480 conflict with SB 263 (Anti-discrimination in schools) which is now in state statute?

A. No. This bill is blind to a student’s gender identity, and it does not discriminate based on gender identity. A biological female can identify as a female, a male, two-spirit, agendered, or any of the dozens of gender identities currently in use. Regardless, she will be permitted to participate on female teams. Think of all the ways we structure our sports teams – by sex, age, playing level, etc. Transgender athletes would have an opportunity to participate under their biological sex, just as they would be required to meet other non-gender criteria such as age and playing level. In the rare circumstance of a child whose biological sex was truly ambiguous, such as the very rare case of an intersex condition, they would already have the results of an evaluation that meets the criteria of SB 480 in order to diagnose their condition and determine any treatment protocols. 

Q. Is it true no NH athletes have been affected?

A. The ACLU has stated this in the absolute. It is true that SB 263 is relatively new, and schools are still navigating their way to making the internal changes needed for compliance. Given the ample scientific evidence of continued competitive advantage even with suppressed hormone levels (that still far exceed those of a biological female), this smacks more of denial than truth. A New Hampshire women’s coach, Aria Jurovaty, has witnessed the negative impact of biological men taking podium spots away from their female competitors at major regional competitions. CeCe Telfer, a transgender athlete from Franklin Pierce College, took the NCAA Division II title in the women’s 400 meters last year in a dominant performance. As Craig Telfer, this athlete had a mediocre record in the men’s division, ranking 200th and 390th among Div II men in the same event in 2016 and 2017. If Telfer had started competing as a female at the high school level, he would’ve dominated our state’s female star, Corinne Kennedy from Lebanon, with an over 3.5 second advantage in the 300m. Our support of this bill is not just to protect elite athletes but also athletes who are not competing at the highest levels. These athletes may be denied a place on the team because of a biological male taking their position.

Q. What about the invasive testing that would be required?

A. This is a red herring intended to inflame. Sports participation already requires a physical. We don’t term that “invasive.” Accurately recording a student’s biological sex (using the objective criteria described in the bill) should be a simple matter. In addition, the physician involved would be the student’s family doctor or another physician selected by the family with access to medical records, not a stranger in the gym. Under current law, a birth certificate alone indicates the biological sex of an individual with no testing even required.

Q. What are the criteria the bill lists to determine sex?

A. There are three factors outlined in the bill a physician may use in verifying biological sex – anatomy, hormone levels, and genetics. What can’t be used is the student’s own self-identification or a birth record that could have been retroactively altered. Also, if hormone levels have been artificially lowered through the use of cross-sex hormones, they cannot be used. Of course, when it comes to the student’s overall care plan (including mental health), their self-identification should absolutely be considered. However, for sports purposes, self-identification should not be a determining factor but rather the objective determination of a medical professional who is licensed by, and responsible to, the Board of Medicine.

Q. If this were to become law, would it conflict with NCAA policies?

A. The NCAA and the NHIAA are private organizations. They do not represent the people of NH nor should they decide what is best for our female athletes. Furthermore, the NCAA transgender policy is flexible, not required. If it were, how could schools like Liberty University or Pepperdine University continue to compete in Division 1 athletics?

Q. Aren’t we denying some students the opportunity to participate?

A. Let’s be honest. Opposition to this bill is not about ensuring student athletes participate. Rather, it is another building block in a coordinated process to force full acceptance of the premise that a biological male is a female based solely on self-identification, denying the scientific fact of biological sex and associated distinctions. Schools and communities are free to create mixed-sex or co-ed teams to include all but should preserve female sports for females. The very concept of athletic competition with its associated levels, awards, and recognition is to give men and women a fair opportunity to compete. To permit biological males to compete against biological women relegates those women to second tier status at all competitive levels, not only denying them a spot on the podium, but potentially even a spot on the team. This is a clear violation of Title IX. We cherish and celebrate the innate dignity of every individual and don’t believe we need to deny biology to do so.