Kansas and Missouri’s state lawmaking bodies are both seeking to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls’ school sports. The proposed ban and similar laws are currently sweeping the nation’s state and local legislatures. The Human Rights Campaign is tracking the progress of 22 bills in 17 states that limit transgender athletes’ participation in school sports.
Citing a perceived unfair athletic advantage for transgender women who compete against cisgender women, both Kansas and Missouri’s bills would require trans women to compete on mens teams, regardless of their social or medical transition. However, Missouri’s bill would allow transgender men athletes to compete on the team of their choice.
The Kansas Senate voted 24-10 in support of the bill barring transgender girls from competing on girls’ teams, however Gov. Laura Kelly is likely to veto the bill if it passes the Republican-controlled lower chamber. Missouri’s bill is currently in committee, and is predicted to go to the House floor for a vote.
“We know from lots of experience in other states that when you implement these kinds of regressive social policies that you significantly decrease the ability to attract businesses here,” Kelly said on the potential financial impacts of this bill becoming law. “Businesses want us to be inclusive.”
While 22 bills limiting trans student athletes are in the works across the country, only Tennessee and Idaho have successfully passed their laws, the latter of which was quickly suspended by a district court.
United States professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe spoke out against lawmakers that seek to exclude transgender athletes.
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I firmly stand with the trans family,” Rapinoe said in a testimony before Congress. “As someone who has played sports with someone who is trans, I can assure you, all is well, nothing is spontaneously combusting.”
UMKC student and SGA Comptroller Kole Keeney said that people concerned with fairness shouldn’t focus on gender as a way to divide.
“Our bodies are already heavily policed in sports, it’s a big reason [why] myself as well as so many other trans youth stop playing sports they once excelled in after coming out.” said Keeney. “It’s a shame, because sports can help people build incredibly important skills, both physically and interpersonally. Height or weight classes should be instituted to promote fairness and competition.”
“In reality, the people pushing for these things just want to prohibit us from one more thing,” Keeney said.