TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Both chambers of the legislature have approved a bill that dictates where transgender women can play in sports.
The proposal bans any person biologically born a male from participating in women’s sports. It does not stop biologically born women from playing in men’s sports.
The bill requires that Kansas athletic teams sponsored by public schools, or schools that play public schools, must have three categories: male, female, and coed. It would affect teams in elementary school through college.
The Senate passed the bill on Friday, a day after the House passed the bill late Thursday night by a margin of 76 to 43.
Lawmakers in the Senate talked about equal rights and the effect this bill could have on attracting business to Kansas.
“It is not protecting women, it’s about exclusion of students from sports, those that are already being marginalized,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes. “It will be a detriment to our state, and detrimental to our economy as we are recovering from a pandemic.”
But supporters said it will make the playing field level for women in sports, and that outside economic influence shouldn’t matter.
“I find it insulting that we say we value fairness, equality, equal rights for women, and then we talk about a price tag of losing potential business,” Wichita Senator Renee Erickson said.
Supporters in the House said the bill is a step in the right direction for women.
“We’re not trying to discriminate against anyone, the girls are being discriminated against, I think everyone should be enjoying sports, there’s a place for everyone,” said Hays Representative Barbara Wasinger, who carried the bill on the floor.
“We have to keep trying to do what we believe is best for the girls and women in our state,” she said.
The legislature’s only transgender person, Wichita Representative Stephanie Byers expressed concern about the reasoning of the bill.
“This is about someone who is different that you may not understand and your desire to prevent them from being a part of our society in all fullness and aspects that we have,” Byers said.
Opponents of the bill said it doesn’t let transgender people live the life they deserve.
“Trans girls will still be here, trans girls are girls, trans women are women. It is what we are, it is our life,” Byers said.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk where she can decide to approve or veto it.