NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – More bills aimed at transgender athletes cleared the state legislature and are waiting for the signature of Governor Bill Lee.
Some folks disapproving of the bills are calling it “discriminatory.”
This comes a year after Tennessee legislators passed a bill to ban transgender athletes from participating in public school sports. Now the GOP supermajority is back for more.
“What this bill does is it prohibits students of male sex from participating in athletics in higher education that are designated for females,” said Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) who is sponsoring both bills.
While speaking on the Senate floor, Hensley said, “This bill is just meant to again — a level playing field for those female athletes.”
But the bills are facing backlash. One trans woman athlete said the bills are just more discriminatory tactics. “There is a kind of pervasive consistent discriminatory attitude in these bills that is inherently problematic,” Dahron Johnson said.
Johnson, a cyclist, said the bills are misguided and target a very small minority of people.
“It’s only focused on trans females and I think that’s because of a desire to really create a sense of alarm when there isn’t any,” she said. “I’ve raced dozens of times since I’ve transitioned and while there certainly have been questions, some folks may even have concern, would say that that’s caused more by an environment and a discourse or rhetoric that has pumped up, given oxygen to fears that only exists because somebody’s shouting about this fear that no one else was talking about until they started shouting it.”
Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) said they are bad bills and Tennessee could be on the losing end. “The NCAA regulates sports for our colleges across the state and, quite frankly, this would put us in a position where if the NCAA passes rules we might not be in compliance which could negatively impact our college athletes,” Akbari said.
The Tennessee Equality Project released a statement calling on Governor Lee to use his veto power:
“These bills are overreach by the legislature. There is no reason for the General Assembly to regulate issues like the eligibility of student-athletes. More broadly, these bills are part of a nationwide, coordinated attack on trans youth that is deeply stigmatizing and dangerous.”