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Proposed Bill Would Ban Trans Athletes from Competing in Women's Sports

State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) (right) is one of the bill's sponsors along with Stark County Republican Rep

Two Republican lawmakers say they’re working on a bill that would support girls’ and women’s sports, by banning transgender girls and women from competing on female teams in high schools and colleges. 

Representatives Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Township) and Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) never say the Save Women’s Sports Act is about trans women and girls, but that it will ban people who are born male from joining female-only school teams, which they can now if they’ve been on hormone therapy for at least a year. Powell says it’s about the integrity of women’s sports and the dreams of female athletes who are pursuing a win, a scholarship or a career.

“That opportunity is being ripped away from them by biological males competing in their sport,” she says.

Powell says there are significant physical differences between people born male and female.

Powell says their are biological differences between males and females that impact their playing ability

“There are people who choose to live in fantasy. But here in the legislature we deal in reality. And the reality is that if you are born a biological male, you have things that are, greater lung capacity, tendons, things like that that give you an advantage over females.”

A board member for the group TransOhio said in a statement that this rips away access to experiences that young athletes should be able to learn from and enjoy, and that it’s “yet another harmful attempt to erase transgender people from public life.”

Here’s the full statement from TransOhio:

“This legislation is yet another harmful attempt to erase transgender people from public life, this time by targeting children who just want to participate in the sports they love while being their authentic selves. Letting transgender children play sports harms no one, but prohibiting it means legislators are ripping away access to fun, developmental, cooperative childhood experiences that young athletes should be able to learn from and enjoy. We all lose when we prevent trans kids from being themselves and having a childhood—it’s completely against the ethos of athletics.” 

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.