The Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would restrict the manner in which transgender athletes participate in sports. House Bill 3293 passed on an 18-15-1 vote.
Supporters of the legislation believe it will protect young female athletes from competing against stronger athletes who were born male, while also protecting the competitive integrity of women’s athletics.
Opponents of the bill view it as discriminatory and have concerns over how it will be received both in West Virginia and beyond. Some Senators fear the legislation will make businesses reluctant to locate and invest here, while others expressed concerns that it might create conflicts with the NCAA, making it unlikely West Virginia could host NCAA sanctioned events in the future.
The provision including college athletics is unique to the Senate version of the bill. The House version, which passed on March 25, applied only to middle school and high school-aged athletes. It required county school districts to confirm the sex of students at birth prior to their participation in single-sex sports. That confirmation would have taken place through submission of an original birth certificate or by a signed physician’s statement of the student’s “unaltered internal and external reproductive anatomy.”
The Senate changed the bill, dropping the requirement for proof of gender and replacing it with language saying “any student aggrieved by a violation” may bring an action against a county board or state institution of higher education.
The bill now heads back to the House of Delegates, where members can accept the Senate version or hold firm to their original version.
The Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, April 9, at 11 a.m.