NewsCovering Kentucky


HB 23: Another bill that would ban transgender girls from girls' sports passes House committee

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Posted at 11:00 AM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 10:00:06-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — At Tuesday's House Education Committee hearing, Kentucky lawmakers passed another bill that could ban transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams.

House Bill 23, more commonly known as the "Save Womens' Sports Act," prohibits transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams.

The bill is similar to Senate Bill 83. However, there are some key differences. Senate Bill 83 bans all trans girls, up to high school, from playing on girls' teams. House Bill 23 makes an exception for trans girls in elementary school. However, it bans trans girls in middle school through college from playing on girls' teams.

That's upsetting news to transgender girls in Kentucky.

"I really like playing soccer because it is fun to hang out with my friends," said Cedar Strobel, an 8-year-old transgender girl.

Strobel told lawmakers that girls like her deserve to play with their friends.

"There are other trans girls out there like me," said Strobel. "So please don't exclude me from playing with my friends."

That's the same thing Fischer Wells asked for too.

"I just want to play," said the seventh-grader who helped create her girls' field hockey team.

"I worked really hard to play this sport," added Wells. "I just hope you'll let me play."

Wells explained to lawmakers that her team doesn't always do very well, but it has taught her valuable skills.

"I have learned so much. I have learned how to be humble. I have learned to play on a team," said Wells. "I have learned how to lose and lose hard. We lost a game by ten points."

So, winning is not Wells' main priority. She says she just wants to be able to play on her team next year. However, if Kentucky lawmakers get their way, that won't happen.

"People are crying out - save Womens' sports," said Rep. Ryan Dotson, the primary sponsor of House Bill 23.

Dotson believes transgender girls have a biological advantage that could take opportunities away from cisgender girls.

"I don't want one single girl in our state to lose a female sports title, a scholarship, or more importantly - to play a girls' sport," said Dotson.

However, lawmakers didn't provide a known example of this currently happening in Kentucky. Instead, they used the University of Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas as an example. Thomas is the transgender college swimmer at the center of this national debate.

Opponents of Kentucky's bills reminded lawmakers that most kids won't reach that high level of athletics. So, they believe Kentucky's actions will do more harm than good because it will mainly prevent kids from casually playing with their friends.

"Like all kids, trans kids simply want to go to school, play with their friends, and feel included," said Christ Hartman, the director of Kentucky's Fairness Campaign.

"Very few trans kids play sports beyond middle school," added Hartman. "And they play sports for the same reason as every other kid. They want to do something they love. They want to spend invaluable time with their friends and coaches, making memories that will truly last a lifetime."

However, lawmakers pushed back against Hartman's claims. Rep. Shane Baker said this action is a preventative measure.

"You buy the insurance before the fire occurs, sir," said Baker. "We are making sure we address these issues, that we are prepared as the issue grows, and that we protect the opportunity of these young women to compete in sports and the integrity that they have."