On Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey (R-Ala.) signed H.B. 391, which requires K-12 schools to restrict membership in single-sex sports teams to biological males or females. The law will protect fairness in women’s sports below the collegiate level. Alabama became the fifth state to defend fairness in women’s sports from President Joe Biden’s pro-transgender push to allow males to compete in women’s sports.
“Physical differences between biological males and biological females have long made separate and sex-specific sports teams important so that female athletes can have equal opportunities to compete in sports,” the law states. “Physical advantages for biological males relevant to sports include, on average, a larger body size with more skeletal muscle mass, a lower percentage of body fat, and greater maximal delivery of anaerobic and aerobic energy than biological females.”
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“Because of the physical differences between biological males and biological females, having separate athletic teams based on the athletes’ biological sex reduces the chance of injury to biological female athletes and promotes sex equality,” the law states. “It provides opportunities for biological female athletes to compete against their peers rather than against biological male athletes, and allows biological female athletes to compete on a fair playing field for scholarships and other athletic accomplishments.”
The Alabama House voted 74-19 for the bill and the Alabama Senate passed it by a 25-5 margin. While most Democrats in the state legislature voted against the bill or abstained from voting on it, Reps. Adline Clarke and Rod Scott voted for it.
Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee also passed laws or issued executive orders barring biological males from girls’ or women’s sports teams. While Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) initially issued a “style-and-form” veto of the women’s sports bill that passed the South Dakota legislature, she later issued an executive order to protect women’s sports on both the K-12 and collegiate levels. The order may not be more effective than the bill Noem vetoed, but she has taken a stand on the issue.
Males have undeniable physical advantages over females when it comes to many sports.
Even when gender-confused males take so-called “puberty blockers” or cross-sex hormones, those pharmacological interventions do not erase the natural benefits that testosterone provides to male athletes. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded that “even after 12 months of hormonal therapy,” a man who identifies as a woman and is taking cross-sex hormones “had an absolute advantage” over female athletes and “will still likely have performance benefits” over women.
Earlier this month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors warned that the NCAA will only allow colleges to host championships in “locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” The board made this warning after explicitly endorsing “a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports,” i.e. a path to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports and vice versa.
The NCAA argued that its approach “requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports,” following the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policies. Yet a study in The Journal of Medical Ethics concluded that the IOC’s policies allow biological males who identify as female to maintain a key advantage that constitutes “intolerable unfairness.” Even some suppression of testosterone does not erase a male’s advantages, which begin in the womb.
As the Alabama law puts it, “Studies have shown that the benefits that natural testosterone provides to biological male athletes is not significantly diminished through the use of testosterone suppression. Testosterone suppression in biological males does not result in a level playing field between biological male and biological female athletes.”
Republican legislators and governors from different states need to band together on this issue, because it seems Democrats are marching in lockstep behind President Joe Biden’s transgender activism. Last Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly (D-Kansas) vetoed a bill defending women’s sports. More Democrats should follow the examples of Adline Clarke and Rod Scott in bucking their own party to defend fairness in women’s sports, but that seems unlikely.
Republicans control the legislature and the governor’s mansion in 23 states, and they can present a powerful united front.