COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri lawmakers are moving forward with a debate on whether transgender girls should be allowed to compete on girls’ sports teams.
A Senate committee hearing was held on Tuesday for Senate Bill 781 sponsored by Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, would ban athletes “of the male sex assigned at birth” in middle, high or post-secondary schools from participating on an “athletic team or sport designated for females, women, or girls.”
Moon called his legislation the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”
Moon argued having transgender athletes compete put other women at a “competitive disadvantage.”
"It's doing mental harm to those who are biological females who have worked some a lifetime to develop skills and excel in their sports and now they're faced with participating against males," Moon said.
Patrick Sasser, a mid-Missouri father of a young transgender girl and track coach at Rock Bridge, says this bill would take the journey of the transgender person who is already a marginalized person in the marginalized identity, and it would make it so much more difficult.
Sasser has a 10-year-old daughter who was born male but he said from a very early age she knew who she was. "This is who I am. These are the pronouns I want to use. This is what I want to look like. This is who I want to be and it was really special," Sasser said.
As Sasser watches his daughter's love for sports at a young age, he says he doesn't want those opportunities to be taken away from her and other transgender athletes. "They would lose out on the chance to participate in sports that they really should be able to learn those life lessons from for sure," Sasser said.
The campaign of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, one of the top Republicans running for Senate, said Monday her Twitter account was suspended after she said “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.”
Hartzler said as a former athlete and coach, she will continue to fight for women to have an equal opportunity to excel in their sports.
"There are biological differences between the male anatomy and it's just you know girls need to have that opportunity to compete and to win," Hartzler said.
Protestors gathered outside the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday against the bill.
Rep. Crystal Quade, D - District 132, attended the protest and told the people there that she will never stop fighting this fight.
"It means so much to be standing here with you and be a part of this movement to make sure that every child in the state of Missouri gets to be who they are," Quade said.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association already has a policy relating to transgender athletes.
As of 2021, transgender females may only compete on women’s teams after one year of hormone treatment and as long as they continue to receive treatment. All transgender athletes are required to apply through MSHSAA to participate in sports teams matching their gender identity.
In January, the NCAA updated its transgender participation policy to align with the Olympic Movement, dictating more flexibility in transgender student participation restrictions.
Two other bills pending in the legislature would also target transgender people. A bill in the Missouri Senate would prohibit gender-confirming hormonal and surgical treatments for minors. A bill in the Missouri House would prohibit changing the sex designation on a birth certificate.