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Idaho will be 8th state to try to legalize discrimination against trans student athletes

Republican State Rep. Barbara Ehardt plans to introduce anti-transgender legislation in this session of the Idaho legislature.

The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise home of the government of the state of Idaho .
The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise is the home of the government of the state of Idaho.
Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

UPDATE: Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban transgender girls from competing in school sports as girls. As LGBTQ Nation’s Daniel Villarreal reported, Indiana House Bill 1088 — The Fair Play for Female Athletes Act, authored by Rep. Christy Stutzman — would prevent anyone presumed male at birth from competing in female sporting events.

That means there are now seven states where legislation is pending to restrict the participation of transgender student athletes. We’ve adjusted our headline and the content below in view of that change.

ORIGINAL REPORT: For transgender student athletes, the hits just keep on coming.

Following legislative measures aimed at restricting trans boys and girls from competing according to their authentic gender identity, as allowed by either policy or law, Republican lawmakers in seven states — New Hampshire, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Alabama — are about to be joined in their efforts by an eighth: Idaho, where Rep. Barbara Ehardt said she is preparing a similar bill.

The Idaho Falls Republican and former Division I NCAA women’s basketball coach, college basketball player, and currently a youth basketball coach, said she’s taking action “to keep the playing field fair.”

“I want to make sure that girls and women have the same opportunities to compete, just as boys and men do,” Ehardt told the Idaho Statesman last week. “It’s already difficult for girls and women, and I know first-hand how hard we had to fight to get where we are today. I just don’t want us to go backwards.”

To the Statesman’s credit, columnist Scott McIntosh did not let Ehardt’s transphobic comments go unanswered.

a.t. Furuya, the youth programs manager for the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network or GLSEN, called this measure what it is: fearmongering.

“When we’re basing something off of a fear or a concern, we’re right off the bat already not even giving anyone a chance,” said Furuya, who identifies as non-binary and transgender. ,

“We’re just making a decision based off what we think is going to happen. We have to remember, too, that these trans girls are girls. They’re girls. When we have segregated sports, there’s a boys team, there’s a girls team. It does not make any sense to put trans girls on a boys team, just as it doesn’t make any sense to put trans boys on a girls team.”

It’s important to note, Ehardt is taking action in the absence of any threat. The Statesman reported that so far, Idaho has not had a single transgender athlete come out.

The transgender student participation in sports policy of the Idaho High School Activities Association, a nonprofit member organization that oversees high school athletics and activities in Idaho, has been in effect for at least seven years, said Ty Jones, executive director of the IHSAA.

Idaho’s policy states:

“A male-to-female transgender student athlete who is taking medically prescribed hormone treatment under a physician’s care for the purposes of gender transition may participate on a boys team at any time, but must complete one year of hormone treatment related to the gender transition before competing on a girls team.”

Furuya from GLSEN said to change that policy, to ban a transgender student from competing in a sport would not only discriminatory, it would also do harm to the student.

“When these issues come up for debate, my first question is, ‘Don’t you believe all students deserve to be safe at school? Don’t you believe that all students should have access to education, don’t you believe that all students should be able to participate in sports?” said Furuya, who has worked with youth for 20 years, coached high school track and field, and whose area of specialty is in working with transgender students.

Meanwhile in Concord, N.H., the Monitor reported hearings began Tuesday on a Republican bill to ban trans middle school, high school, and college students from participating in girls’ sports, and force student athletes to prove they are female to compete.

House Bill 1251 would require that New Hampshire’s primary and secondary schools restrict participation on female sports teams to students “of the female sex.” The legislation would mandate that athletes in question prove their birth gender by producing a doctor’s note before they could participate on a girls’ team.

That doctor’s note would have to certify that a student athlete has female “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” reveal the student’s testosterone levels or chromosomes before the athlete could be accepted as female and allowed to compete.

Of course, these draconian measures are not the only anti-LGBTQ political actions of late.

Writing in The Daily Beast, journalist Sydney Bauer counted 19 bills that have been filed in 11 state legislatures so far for the 2020 legislative session, all of which would limit the rights of trans people, not just trans student athletes. Most of those measures target trans youth.

This week, Florida became the 18th state to file an anti-transgender bill in just the last year, according to Freedom For All Americans. Florida Republicans filed four bills aimed at legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians on Monday, the last day to file proposed legislation for the upcoming session.

The most radical proposal is HB 1365, the so-called “Vulnerable Child Protection Act:” a bill that if passed into law would define sex as “the biological state of being female or male based on sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles,” and would make it a second-degree felony for healthcare providers to assist a minor in a gender transition or even administer life-saving treatments related to transition.

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida legislature in recent memory,” said Equality Florida’s public policy director Jon Harris Maurer in a statement. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Click here to view Freedom for All Americans’ Legislative Tracker, listing measures since 2019 and featuring a map of the states where these efforts are underway.

Read Equality Florida’s full statement about the new anti-LGBTQ bills by clicking here. You can read about the other seven states that want to restrict transgender student athletes by clicking here.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version counted 16 states with anti-transgender legislation. A closer review shows that in May 2019, Iowa’s governor signed a bill into law banning state funding of gender transition related surgery, and Pennsylvania’s legislature referred a bill banning inmates from undergoing state-funding gender confirmation surgeries to its state judiciary in December 2019. Those two state measures were not included in our original count of 16.