Virginia bill requiring transgender students play on teams based on biological sex passes subcommittee

A Virginia bill that would require transgender athletes in public schools — from elementary school through college — to play on teams that match their biological sex passed out of subcommittee Monday.

HB 1387, introduced by Virginia Beach Republican Karen Greenhalgh, doesn’t include the word “transgender,” but would have the effect of barring transgender students in K-12 schools and colleges from competing on teams that match their gender identities.

“The purpose of House Bill 1837 is to protect our girls and young women from being forced to compete against biological males,” said Greenhalgh. “Similarly gifted and trained males will always have the physical advantage over females, which is the reason we have women’s sports.”

The bill applies to all levels of competition, including “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intermural or club” teams.

To try out for a team, the student athlete would need to submit an “athletics eligibility form signed by a licensed physician, a licensed nurse practitioner … or physician assistant,” which specifies “such student’s biological sex.”

“Even the strongest, fastest girls in Virginia must step up to the starting line and know, ‘I can’t win,'” said Greenhalgh. “Their goals are gone, their chance at winning and recognition and scholarship, it’s just not fair for women to lose these opportunities.”

Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn, of Fairfax County, asked Greenhalgh if she were aware of a single transgender athlete currently competing in Virginia.

“I’d like to know why this is an issue of urgency,” Filler-Corn asked. “We have had transgender youth living in the Commonwealth, and there’s been no takeover of women’s sports.”

The bill comes in the midst of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed policy changes for transgender students that, among other things, would require transgender students to use school facilities and play on teams that match their biological sex.

“It’s framed as a crisis that needs to be resolved now,” Filler-Corn said. “And, my question is why?”

Greenhalgh said the prevalence of the situation is not the issue.

“If one girl loses her chance to win, that’s enough,” said Greenhalgh. “If one girl loses her chance to compete, that’s enough.”

Greenhalgh said her concern is not the number of women who will lose their opportunities to win or make a team.

“It’s not how many women are going to have their dreams crushed — it’s that it can happen, and we need to make sure that it doesn’t,” Greenhalgh concluded.

Greenhalgh’s bill passed the Post-Secondary and Higher Ed subcommittee, and will be heard by the full subcommittee Wednesday.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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