Senate passes two bills aimed at transgender athletes

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This article was written by Dulce Torres Guzman of Tennessee Lookout
April 11, 2022

The state Senate passed two bills targetting LGBTQ youth in sports, despite concerns voiced by some lawmakers on the negative impacts for LGBTQ children. 

On Monday, senators voted in favor of passing SB1861 and SB2153, both bills that prohibit trans athletes from participating in women’s sports.

SB2153, sponsored by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, prohibits males from participating in sports at the college level that are designated for women and creates a cause of action for violations.

Details on the nature of the violations and their financial consequences remain unclear, prompting Sen. Raumesh Akbari to question the bill’s actual objective. 

“It sounds like the meat of this legislation will come from the rule-making process,” she said. 

Hensley also sponsored SB1861, which creates financial consequences for local education agencies who refuse to determine a student’s gender for the purpose of their participation in sports.

When asked as to whether he knew of any trans athletes in Tennessee, Hensley said he only knew of trans athletes in other states and wanted to prevent similar conundrums in Tennessee as he raised the issue of whether transgender femalel athletes have an unfair advantage in women’s sports. 

Hensley also responded that he had not spoken to any trans students in regards to the legislation sponsored. 

Akbari questioned politicians’ involvement in sports, adding that the National Collegiate Athletic Association regulates sports policy, and bills like these could leave Tennessee athletes out of compliance with the NCAA.

Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, sponsored two bills targeting transgender athletes.(Photo: John Partipilo)

“Not to mention the fact that I think this presumes a lot of things regarding those who are born with male on their birth certificate, and I just think it’s discriminatory, it’s something we should not be putting our regulations on,” she said. 

“I don’t really like the narrative that we have to protect our women athletes. I think our women do a great job competing and protecting themselves,” she added. 

Sen. Jeff Yarbro spoke on the difficulties trans youths already face fitting in at school and how policies like these can negatively impact their mental health.

“There is no indication that this is a problem in Tennessee schools but what this is an indication of is that there are kids who feel targeted by this legislature, and these are often times are kids who are struggling a lot most of us don’t understand and are most likely to be at risk of committing suicide than anybody else,” he said.  

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Published on April 13, 2022.