Bill on transgender youth in sports being discussed ahead of legislative session

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – After a bill to ban transgender youth from girls’ sports failed last legislative session, the bill’s sponsor is trying again — this time, with a broader coalition of voices.

A new draft of the legislation, discussed Wednesday before the Health and Human Services interim committee, outlines requirements for transgender students who want to participate in sports.

The requirements include hormone therapy for a year, puberty blockers, and having the person’s sex marker changed on the birth certificate.

Rep. Kera Birkeland is sponsoring the bill, and she says many parents have expressed concerns over transgender youth participating in girls’ sports.

“They don’t understand how this can be safe, how it can be fair. And those are concerns a lot of institutions have tried working through,” said Birkeland.

Instead of a ban, the legislation is meant to bring disparate voices together — and provide guidance to transgender students in middle school who plan to play sports in high school.

“When you’re in junior high, if you want to continue to play in high school, before you start your first competition in high school you’re going to want to get your birth certificate changed, and you’re going to make sure you have a year of transitional therapy if you’re a male transitioning to female,” said Birkeland.

Sue Robbins serves on Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council.

“The fact that this bill is so different than the first one shows that we’ve come a long way,” said Robbins.

Still, she says, she is pushing for birth certificates to be left out of the bill.

“Birth certificates are handled differently by every state. So just a straight statement that you have to change your sex marker on birth certificates will automatically block out some youth from competing who have moved from other states,” said Robbins.

Details of the legislation have yet to be finalized, and Birkeland says more discussion will happen. But, she says, she plans to introduce the bill at the start of the next legislative session.

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