Senate passes bill banning transgender girls from playing on female sports teams

New Hampshire's Senate debates a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating on girls sports teams.

New Hampshire's Senate debates a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating on girls sports teams. JEREMY MARGOLIS—Monitor staff

By JEREMY MARGOLIS

Monitor staff

Published: 04-05-2024 4:58 PM

In the latest victory for Republicans on transgender issues this legislative session, New Hampshire’s state Senate passed a bill on Friday that would ban trans girls and women from playing on school- or state-sanctioned female sports teams.

Senate Bill 375, which passed 14-10 along party lines, follows the passage last month of a similar bill in the House, HB 1205.

If either bill is passed by the other chamber and signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu, New Hampshire would become the 25th state to enact a transgender sports ban, according to the Movement and Advancement Project.

The Senate bill passed Friday requires all sports teams in fifth grade through college to be designated as “boys”, “girls”, or “mixed” teams, and prohibits students assigned male at birth from participating in the teams designated as for “girls.”

Republican senators argued the bill was necessary to ensure the safety and fairness of girls in sports.

“A strong trans girl is going to prevent a biological female from being recognized,” said Sen. Bill Gannon, a Sandown Republican, who referenced his experience coaching youth sports and parenting daughters.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, Republican of Wolfeboro, cited the controversial case of a girls’ basketball game in Massachusetts earlier this year that allegedly involved a transgender girl injuring athletes on the opposing team.

“We are standing up for opportunity, safety, and fairness,” Bradley said.

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Members of the Democratic majority vehemently opposed passage of the bill, arguing that the law would target a very small number of trans girls in the state and was unnecessary.

Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, a Portsmouth Democrat of Portsmouth, proposed an amendment to the bill that would have set eligibility requirements under which transgender girls could participate on girls teams, which she said would have addressed Republicans’ concerns.

The amendment, which would have considered the student’s presenting gender, failed – also along party lines.

“The glaring error of SB375 is it makes an assumption that the only reason kids play sports is to win,” Perkins Kwoka said. “Or even more nefarious, it assumes that a small targeted group of transgender girls play on girls teams for a competitive advantage, and not because they feel like girls.”

Plymouth resident Sara Tirrell traveled to the State House on Friday in support of her daughter, 15-year-old Parker, a freshman soccer player at Plymouth Regional High School, who came out as transgender two years ago.

If the bill passed by the Senate becomes law, Parker would be barred from playing on the girls’ soccer team this fall.

“This is the first very big concrete wall she’s running into,” Tirrell said. “Every time she asks me about it, she’s in tears.”

Following the vote, Tirrell expressed frustration with how entrenched the Republican lawmakers were in their positions.

“It doesn’t matter what anybody says, it doesn’t matter what the statistics say, or what professionals say,” Tirrell said. “They have their opinion, and they aren’t going to change it no matter what anybody says.”

Up against a Republic legislature and governor, Tirrell said she and are family are not giving up, but they are also exploring litigation in case a transgender ban does take effect.

On the Senate floor Friday, Sen. Suzanne Prentiss, a West Lebanon Democrat and the representative for the district where the Tirrells live, read a letter she received from Parker’s childhood friend, Rachel Pamplin.

“It is so unfair and heartbreaking to think that somebody could be so cruel as to rob someone of their right to play a sport just because they were born into the wrong body,” Pamplin wrote.