Alabama is latest state to ban trans girls from female sports teams

Alabama has become the latest conservative US state to ban transgender girls from playing on female school sports teams.

On Friday, the office of Governor Kay Ivey said the Republican had signed legislation which said a public K-12 school “may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team”.

Supporters of the bill, HB 391, say transgender girls are bigger and faster and have an unfair advantage. Opponents argue the bills are rooted in discrimination and fear and violate federal law barring sex discrimination in education.

In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David, said: “HB 391 is nothing more than a politically motivated bill designed to discriminate against an already vulnerable population. By signing this legislation, Governor Ivey is forcefully excluding transgender children.

“Let’s be clear here: transgender children are children. They deserve the same opportunity to learn valuable skills of teamwork, sportsmanship and healthy competition with their peers.”

The Alabama house voted 74-19 for the bill. The senate voted 25-5.

“I want to thank Governor Ivey for her leadership and for protecting the rights of Alabama’s female athletes,” said Scott Stadthagen of Hartselle, a Republican and the bill sponsor in the house. “Standing up for what is right is not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do.”

In senate debate, Garlan Gudger of Cullman, a Republican, said it was “unfair for biological males to compete and beat females in high school sports”. He said the bill was needed to protect the integrity of female athletic programs.

Republican legislators have been hard-pressed to come up with actual instances in which a transgender girl’s participation has caused a problem on a girls sports team.

The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures as well as conservative groups supporting them and found only a few instances among hundreds of thousands of teenagers who play high school sports.

Last month the Republican governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, signed a bill to ban transgender athletes from girls or women’s teams. Idaho was the first state to pass such a ban but it faces a legal challenge.

On Thursday the Democratic governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, vetoed a similar bill. She said the Republican-backed measure was a jobs killer that harmed children.

Critics are worried such bills could cost states chances to host sporting events. The Alabama Senate minority leader, Bobby Singleton, said the bill there would give the state a “black eye” as it tries to attract industries and sporting events.

“We are spending too much time on craziness like this,” Singleton said.

The NCAA, which regulates college athletics, has warned that championships will only be held in locations “free of discrimination”.

“We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants,” a statement said.

The NCAA requires transgender women to get drug treatment to lower testosterone levels before competing in women’s sports.