West Virginia's Republican-led senate approved House Bill 3293 on Thursday afternoon with vote a of 18-15. Much like legislation passed in South Dakota, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, this bill prohibits transgender women and girls from competing in college and secondary sports teams. The bill now heads to the House where, if passed, it will continue to Republican Governor Jim Justice for consideration.
"It is (in) the best interest of the state to protect women and girls and protect the opportunity for them to participate in sports. Supporting this is simply doing that," Republican state Sen. Patricia Rucker said just before the chamber approved the measure. She did not address the fact that the bill limits the opportunities for trans girls and women in the state.
HB 3293 states that secondary and college sports teams in the state must be designated based on "biological sex," and that "athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport."
"Biological sex" is a term the lawmakers use to refer to the sex determined at the time of a student's birth.via CNN
The language of this bill has been called "overly simplistic and misleading" by CNN, as "biological sex" is determined by factors including genetics, hormones, and anatomy, and even these factors are naturally variable.
Opponents of the bill call it discriminatory and harmful, while the Republican House Education Chairman Joe Ellington advocated for its passage using transphobic language, claiming transgender athletes would be more likely to injure their teammates and competitors.
"An individual that may have different characteristics that makes their abilities stronger or physically stronger or their habitus is different, maybe that might affect injury to other participating students in the same sport," he said.via CNN
According to the American Civil Liberties Union's anti-trans bill tracker, at least 30 other states have introduced similar bans this year.
LGBTQ groups, along with some of West Virginia's Democratic Senators and Delegates, have opposed the bill, calling it cruel, discriminatory, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded.
The Human Rights Campaign stated that "West Virginia's legislature is pushing harmful legislation that would discriminate against transgender kids who simply want to play sports with their friends."
"Bills like this are based in fear, not facts, science, or medicine, and they are targeting and excluding transgender kids at a critical time in their lives, making them more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and dysphoria," Ryan Wilson, HRC's regional campaign director, said in a statement.via CNN