Save Women’s Sports (SB 480)

women track athletes

Cornerstone strongly supports SB 480, and we thank the legislators who have sponsored it. The bill is about sports equity for female student athletes. SB 480 will protect a level playing field for girls, who are at risk of losing the ground gained by women athletes via Title IX.

Sports are separated by sex category, not an arbitrary measure. This bill simply clarifies that one’s feelings about gender identity do not change their sex. If you are not eligible for a sports category based on age, sex, weight, then you must participate on a team you are eligible for. For example, you don’t get to self-identify into the wrong age category no matter how young you may feel. We don’t put a 16-year-old on a U10 soccer team just because they act immature or feel they are 10; that would be unsafe and unfair. And we don’t put males on female teams to accommodate their feelings about gender. That is unsafe and unfair. It invalidates any sex-based eligibility criteria and makes all teams co-ed – which in turn, makes teams predominantly male. And then we are right back to where we started before Title IX. We make these distinctions because it is the best means to create a fair, level playing field for everyone.

It has been said by some opponents of the bill that it requires invasive testing. Sports participation already requires a physical. Accurate recording of a student’s sex (based on the objective criteria stated in the bill) on a physical form is not invasive nor cumbersome. This is a red herring designed to inflame. A physician must attest to a student’s sex, not their gender identity, when completing their physical form. It really is that simple. Four of my 5 sons (my little guy hasn’t started sports yet) have played sports and every year, the doctor checks their reproductive anatomy, among other things, to determine whether it is safe for them to play sports. Every athlete’s biological sex would be in their medical chart.

The only thing this bill requires is a signed statement from the student’s family doctor. We want to make it clear that this is not something that is happening in a school gymnasium with an unknown doctor. The student gets to use a family doctor to provide this verification. This is something the same pediatrician that has been giving yearly check-ups to a child is able to do. And since the family physician has been following the child’s progress since birth, it should be easy for the family doctor to provide the signed statement. If the student does not have a regular family doctor, this information would be in the medical records.

What the 3 factors listed in the bill (anatomy, hormone levels, and genetics) do is to limit what the family doctor can look at when signing that statement. The family doctor CANNOT look at the student’s self-identification when verifying sex. A birth certificate (which may have been changed) or artificially lowered hormone levels thru the use of cross-sex hormones cannot be used when verifying the student’s sex. Of course, a physician needs to look at the student’s self-identification in terms of overall health, including mental health, but we want to stress that FOR SPORTS PURPOSES, self-identification is irrelevant.

The determination of sex rests where it belongs: on objective biological facts as attested to by a physician, who is licensed by and responsible to the Board of Medicine.

Much has been said about how sports are an avenue for learning self-discipline, sportsmanship, resiliency and providing a sense of belonging – and rightfully so. Mixed-sex or co-ed recreational teams exist in communities and schools are free to create additional ones to meet the interests of their students. Sports teams designated for females are for females. A school cannot offer a competitive team with tryouts, cuts, and state championship competition for boys but only offer ‘social’ teams for girls where competition ‘doesn’t matter’ and the focus is on connections and teamwork. This violates Title IX and is sex discrimination.

Let’s be honest: opposition to this bill is not about student athletes wanting to participate. Rather, it is about demanding full acceptance to the premise that a biological male IS a female simply if one feels they are. We cherish and celebrate the innate dignity of every human being in the room – and we don’t need to deny biology to do so.

Please vote “ought to pass” on SB 480.

Testimony provided to Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee by Shannon McGinley, volunteer executive director, Cornerstone Action.