Transgender sports ban ready for final votes in NC

House Bill 574 says a student's sex is designated at birth, and that anyone designated male at birth can't play on women's or girls' sports teams in school, even if they transition to female.
Posted 2023-06-14T17:12:24+00:00 - Updated 2023-06-15T09:30:05+00:00

A bill forbidding transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams from middle school through college moved forward at the North Carolina General Assembly Wednesday, and it appears primed to become law.

Republican negotiators on the measure have worked out differences between competing versions of the bill, which will likely come to the House and Senate floors for final votes in the coming weeks.

House Bill 574 says a student’s sex is designated at birth, and that anyone designated male at birth can’t play on girls' or women’s sports teams in school, even if they transition to female.

“This is not telling anyone that they can’t play,” said Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell. “This is only telling everyone that women’s sports are for women.”

Bill opponents said the measure singles out a small number of young people who already live difficult lives.

“This bill only creates a scenario where transgender children feel unsafe,” said Kyle Warren-Love, who came out as a lesbian at age 12 and transgender at age 20.

Sen. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, said the bill targets students “in a way that is mean-spirited and unfair.”

“A middle school student who is likely on puberty blockers,” Marcus said. “A transgender girl living as a girl and just wants to play on her middle school team.”

This version of the bill once impacted transgender boys and girls, but that language changed Wednesday so that the bill only limits transgender girls and women, who were designated male at birth, from participating in female sports.

Lawmakers said they didn’t want to stop female students from joining boy’s teams. They also agreed the ban should span from middle school through college, something that had been debated. The rule would not apply to college intramural sports.

Current rules allow students to play high school sports based on their gender identification, though it requires a lengthy process and review of medical information.

Eighteen gender-waiver requests have been submitted to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association since the policy was put place before the 2019-20 school year. Sixteen were approved, but 14 of those were biological females asking to play on boys' teams.

Two were biological males asking to play on girls' teams, according to Que Tucker, the commissioner of the NCHSAA.

House Bill 574 moved through Senate committee Wednesday and will be the final version of the bill, Sawyer said. A Senate version, Senate Bill 631, won’t move forward after House and Senate negotiators worked out differences between the two bills and consolidated changes into HB 574.

Republicans hold super majorities in both the House and Senate, allowing them to vote this bill into law regardless of whether Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper attempts to veto it.