Tennessee bill would require transgender athletes to play on teams based on gender at birth

Posted at 5:57 AM, Jan 03, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn — A state lawmaker wants to require transgender students to play on school sports teams based on their sex at birth.

State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) introduced House Bill 1572, which would require Tennessee transgender students to participate in the sports categories based on the sex on their birth certificate.

Griffey says he introduced the bill to ensure that there's fairness in sports competitions throughout the state.

"There's no ill will intended toward anyone regarding this legislation," Griffey said. "We all know that traditionally males generally have bigger hearts, bigger upper body strength, and that can give them a genetic advantage when competing against women in a number of sports."

However, advocates for LGBT rights say this bill is an attack on the transgender community.

"Some members of the General Assembly have not made an effort to understand that trans youth are a part of our school population and we need to serve and protect them like all students," said Chris Sanders, executive director with the Tennessee Equality Project.

Sanders says the bill part of a "2020 slate of hate bills," which he claims are an attack on the LGBT community. Sanders called the purpose of proposal "ignorance, hate and discrimination."

"It is insulting to trans youth. It is an attack on them. Their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further," Sanders said.

Griffey says there's no intention to punish or discriminate when it comes down to the bones of the bill. He said it's about fair competitions.

"We've split up sports into male and female competitions to begin with for a sense of fairness; and if we're going to begin blurring the lines we're really defeating the purpose of having fair competitions to begin with," Griffey said.

Under the bill, if any elementary or secondary school willfully or intentionally violates the guidelines, the schools would be "immediately ineligible to continue to receive public funds of any type from this state or a local government."

If the bill becomes law, it would impose a fine of up to $10,000 on any school or state official who knowingly violates the ban, and the official accused of violating it would have to leave their office.

They would also be ineligible to hold public office, school administration positions, or principal positions for five years after.

This story was originally published by Kelsey Gibbs on WTVF in Nashville.