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Ohio Senate removes invasive exam language from transgender athlete ban

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An Ohio Senate committee has approved changes to the bill that bans transgender athletes from participating on girls’ sports teams to no longer include language that could lead to invasive exams.

The bill, HB151, still prohibits transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports on the middle and high school level, but now it no longer applies to collegiate teams.

The language that required a student to present a “signed physician's statement indicating the participant's sex” if their sex was disputed was removed from the bill after receiving backlash.

That doctor’s note would’ve required an internal and external reproductive anatomy exam.

Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), a survivor of child sexual abuse, said that provision was “nothing short of state-sanctioned sexual abuse.”

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said House Republicans, who approved that original language, support taking the examination language out.

“In fact, there was an error when it was in the amendments in the House, so there's no objection to take it out. In fact, our members would encourage it to come out,” said Cupp.

The new language requires a student athlete to provide a birth certificate that indicates what sex they were assigned at birth if their sex is disputed. Opponents have said the language is vague as to who can dispute a student athlete’s sex.

Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) said they’re still gauging interest on whether to move the ban forward in the Senate.

“Transgender girls can compete in boys’ sports, we’re not excluding that. We believe there’s a biological difference in boys,” said Brenner, arguing the reason behind the legislation.

However, opponents still strongly oppose the bill saying it clearly discriminates against transgender students.

They argue Republicans are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist given that the Ohio High School Athletic Association has had a process in place for years that ensures trans athletes don’t have a physiological advantage in girls’ sports.

“This bill will affect every single transgender girl in sports, all of whom will have an original birth certificate marked with male. The whole point of OHSAA’s existing policy is to separate boys from transgender girls by obligating athletes to show proof of actual transition. This bill replaces that standard in a way that would instead ban all transgender athletes from sports,” said Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio.

Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) said the Senate should scrap the pending bill and instead codify those OHSAA policies.

The bill remains in committee and would need a vote in the Senate and House, and the governor’s signature by the end of the year in order to become law.

Contact Andy at achow@statehousenews.org.