NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Dahron Johnson loves cycling. it’s something she’s done since she was a teenager.
“It’s being out here,” she said. “It’s being able to escape from my front door under my own power, to be able to enjoy the outside, to be able to connect my body, relax my mind.”
But students like her can’t cycle competitively in Tennessee because Johnson is transgender.
“Me, as the undisguised me, is something I’ve always known about,” Johnson said, referencing her sexuality.
Back in May, Governor Bill Lee signed into law another transgender athlete ban. This one applies to collegiate sports while also establishing penalties for middle and high schools who disobey the bill.
Though the college ban came this year, it doesn’t necessarily only concern the NCAA.
“Not just into NCAA sports, it’s all the way down into intramural sports, as well,” Johnson said. “Those pickup teams you have around campus, that legislation has extended down even to that level.”
Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), sponsored the bill.
“These girls have trained all their lives for a sport, many of them have scholarships and are hoping to go to school on the scholarships,” he said. “If they’re having to compete against a biological male, it’s just not an equal playing field.”
We asked Johnson what she would say if she could speak to one of the senators who authored the bill.
“Well, I’ll extend the invitation that I’ve extended before, which is to come out with me to some of these races,” she said. “You’ll see that just like every other aspect of life, we’re just part of the daily life of the community.”
“I’m sure the transgender athlete feels like they should be able to compete,” Hensley said in response. “But all the other females that they are competing against, I don’t think, feel that way.”
Hensley also said he didn’t author the bill out of hate but for fair competition. Critics of the law, like Johnson, argue that the scope of the law goes beyond just athletes.
“It is yet another place where folks like me are being pushed out of the public sphere,” she said.
There is a lawsuit set to be heard in March of next year about the constitutionality of the penalties. Until then, the law will remain in effect.