The debate over trans female athletes' participation in school sports

ABC News’ Kayna Whitworth traveled to Idaho to report on the escalating political culture war surrounding anti-trans legislation and its impact on trans female athletes.
11:38 | 04/07/21

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Transcript for The debate over trans female athletes' participation in school sports
Today Arkansas became the first state to enact a law that bans gender affirming treatments and surgery for transgender youths. Measure passed by both the Arkansas House of Representatives and senate comes a day after the governor vetoed the original bill. Following calls from health care professionals and parents of trans children expressing their concerns while this may be a first as part of a larger Patton an emergency political culture wars over legislation across various states on the topic of transgender youths whether the health care access or their ability to participate in sports she ABC's Gina whitworth brings us the latest on the debate of the inclusive. Verses advantage. And his forget sometimes where AM. SM reading and stick to freeing experience for twenty year old college student Lindsey he contest running is her life. It's such a silly CB able to get out there. Forget about what it ever was going on your life that day. Where would you be without running. And cutting him off I feel like it's clear credit for AM. So it wouldn't really be the same it's been Wendy's outlets and high school so did cross country as well armed. Senate realizes. My game. I'm good at a highlight in and the minutes continue doing it that went really aesthetic. But in high school Lindsay had not begun her transition. As she describes it she presented a male living as many transgender teens do in a body. That didn't match her gender identity. It wasn't until college that she's on to live authentically as a woman. I felt like a wasted a little bit of my life trying to the tens. Deviate guy and deserve pressing everything that seems so much better now. But while she was waiting for tryouts for chances and her life changed almost in an instant. Stills 500 and I don't nine are no longer bills there are now law in march of 20/20 Idaho's house bill 500 dubbed the fairness in women's sports act banned trans girls' and women's ability to compete in female sports leagues has about making sure that we preserve those opportunities. But Lindsay stresses. That she's a girl too and should have opportunities to play it like anyone else. I had. Something about it. Gentlemen the athletes they feel like it's going to be some games tall muscular super sad ends I don't even think most of my teammates good. Even thinking of me that's chance I'd just. Look like fall. They get down. Lindsay filed a lawsuit in April 20/20 eight with the help of the ACLU and others. By August the court placed a preliminary injunction against the law meaning that while the lawsuit is pending. Ally itself could not be enforced but I don't lay the ground work for a spate of exclusionary trans bills that followed across the country. 20/20 one already seen the enactment of the three bills banning trans girls from competing in sports in the month of march. Alone. I agree with the purpose of the bill and the intent have it I do believe that. Transgender person. Participating women's sports will destroy women's sports. End in South Dakota governor Christine gnome passing her own executive orders it is fundamentally unfair for men to compete in women's sports. In all at least twenties states proposing or passing at least 52 bills excluding trans athletes and mainly. Transit girls. In K through twelve and college. In Minnesota legislators introducing a bill to make trainers female participation in school sports a petty misdemeanor potentially punishable by a fine. As a parent the one thing we cannot do. The one thing. Discs silence our child's spirit. Parents of trans children are scared for their futures Missouri dad Brandon bowl where making an impassioned plea for his daughter who plays volleyball. I need you to understand. That this language if it becomes law. We'll have a real effects on real people. According to the CDC 27%. Of transgender teens say they feel unsafe at school. 35%. Have attempted suicide. But songs since gender female athletes girls whose gender identity match their sex assigned at birth say. They are being displaced and pushed out by transgender athletes. I know what it's like Cindy gave that I am violent manner in my hands or in them. Being so that the girls this nation. Nineteen year old Madison Kenyon a sophomore runner for Idaho State University says losing to a trans female in her first collegiate race was discouraging. Her participation show me they are so our little bit and making ironies is and we're not. Does Amy ED. Air. Eighteen year old Chelsea Mitchell says she lost several state titles after racing against two trans females and high school. Mitchell finding herself in third place behind the to transact police. Personally I lost four state chain as it's not having little Lori it's un and countless other opportunities to advance to me it's on in place. And so I decide to seek out because you know I believe that this was unfair for Iranian and other competitors she was able to beat one of the trans runners in later Reese's. You know it was. I've Celek act finally got the recognition I deserved. Mitchell is currently a scholarship athlete at William and Mary in Virginia neither of her trance competitors were offered scholarships. Both Mitchell and Kenyon have joined lawsuits against trans female participation in women's sports. And are represented by the alliance defending freedom a conservative legal advocacy organization. They say it's not about hate or being anti trans. It's about fairness and opportunity. Are you worried. About the future. FC now. Sports. I think Bruins probably eat. Everett hasn't rates at or just beings arts and there is where's my hair or her. Hair sir. I love going to begin eating again when. Joanna harper understands these concerns as one of the world's leading researchers on trans listening athletes and a trans athlete herself. She says the signs around biology and advantages and sports is nuanced. Many critics of transgender women have suggested. That trans women have unfair advantages. Or persist gender or typical women. And Iran. It is certainly true. It has a population grew tense women who cabinet Ruddick advantages. This women we do however allow advantages in sport. She says for example lefty and a baseball players have an advantage over right handed players in many instances but most experts agree no matter the gender assigned a birth. People have a range of athletic abilities. Evidence that we kept seen. Is that the mitigation that occurs from hormone therapy should be enough to allow fans imminent since government can begin wanna rubber and meaningful fashion in score. I would suggest that it is never right response to outright and parents athletes. I think. For all sports. Or all levels. There is some sat. Solutions. That can be implemented. And still allow trans women. To be integrated with England score. While more comprehensive studies need to be done to determine what can be considered a compromise. Reading sports organizations have put out guidance based on their understanding of current research. In 2011 the NCAA issued national guidance for transport has the patient in sports at the collegiate level. It stipulates that before joining a team trans women should undergo a year of testosterone suppression. Many trans women do hormone replacement therapy a treatment that according to the Mayo Clinic. Helps individuals match their gender identities to their bodies something he Cox did before trying out for her college team in 20/20. What have been done for you running it's done sending them and not share many people really understand alleges that lost a lot of it really so. Muscled leg muscle mass yet Muslim that's. The scam and that as low. All the feast where they could feel myself getting slow day and I was all I hope that. All right. Because she was now within the range of other female athletes. Despite a rigorous training schedule provided by the school she wasn't fast enough to make the Broncos track team in 20/20 I. Felt pretty disappointed at nighttime is actually. She says she didn't make the team solely based on her performance. Story that. In that can't get our economy we need people are being. But Ronald gene going to a report read. Even or. We're just living and I'll. Every single individual. Human and we eat all we are treated with integrity burgers. The situation and arts. He Cox is hopeful for an athletic future that includes her and will continue her legal fight as well as trying out for the team again in 20/20 two. I don't really mind if I don't make that team is flung as I have. Gave the red affair featured chance athletes to make a team and be happy. Cano with Norris joins us now Cain as mentioned earlier Arkansas became the first state to band gender affirming treatments and surgery for trans youth does also complicate things for trans children who may want to play sports. Last Lilly Lindy so in some states and that legislation actually makes it a crime. To provide this gender affirming care to anyone under the age of eighteen now that can greatly complicate someone's transition and it essentially forces them to go through puberty presenting a gender that they don't identify wet. Now the American academy of pediatrics is speaking out they say they highly recommend that young people have access. The appropriate care that they need and this kind of legislation is being considered by fifteen states and it's important to note Lindsay. That does CDC says just 2% of high school students identify as transgender. So opponents of this legislation argued that it targets an already marginalized and very small group of people. And we're talking about sports has the NCAA weighed in on any in this. Last slowly Lindsay so the president condemning this legislation I don't as well. Calling it harmful to transgender student athletes say it conflicts with their core values to be inclusive and respectful. Also adding that they are committed to hosting championship games in locations that are free of discrimination. Now Wendy people who are pushing for this legislation want to point out that it is not anti trans instead they are just pushing. For an equal playing field. Tina whitworth our thanks to you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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