Alabama lawmakers advance bill aimed at transgender athletes

An Alabama legislative committee has advanced a bill that would bar transgender students from some sports teams. The House State Government Committee voted 8-4 for the Gender Is Real Legislative Act by Republican Rep. Chris Pringle

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Transgender students would be required to play sports under their “gender assignment at birth" instead of how they live under a bill approved Wednesday by a committee in the Alabama House of Representatives.

The House State Government Committee voted 8-4 for the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act, by Republican Rep. Chris Pringle. The bill, which awaits input from the full House, would ban K-12 schools from allowing trans athletes to compete under their gender identity. It would instead require students to participate under the gender listed on their original birth certificate.

Nationally, Republican legislators in more than a dozen states have been recently promoting bills that focus on transgender young people.

Opponents criticized the Alabama measure as motivated by fear and discrimination towards trans people. Pringle said the bill is designed to ensure a level playing field in girls' sporting events.

“These young ladies work very hard in order to condition themselves and go out to compete,” Pringle said. "I want to make sure the person that is competing against them does not have an unfair advantage based on the biological effects of testosterone."

Pringle acknowledged he knew of no competition problems in Alabama, but said disputes have arisen in other states. He is running for Congress in next month's Republican primary.

Carmarion D. Anderson, Alabama state director of the Human Rights Campaign, said there is no evidence that trans athletes are disrupting athletic competition and said the bill appears rooted in discrimination.

“Fairness is not discrimination. Fairness is about allowing a child to live out their truth and be guided also by the love of their parents," Anderson said.

Anderson said trans students are at risk for suicide and other problems without support. She said she transitioned 25 years ago at age 16 and credited her parents for providing love and support.

“Look at me. I could have committed suicide if I did not have opportunities," Anderson said. “It could be your child, your nephew, your grandchild. Every day a trans child is transitioning.”