The Missouri House General Laws Committee could vote this week on a proposed public vote targeting transgender high school athletes. If approved by voters, transgender students would have to participate in sports according to the sex on their birth certificate. The resolution aims to change the Missouri Constitution.
During a public hearing, State Representative Robert Ross, R-Yukon, says the proposed ballot measure would also mean females could no longer play football with their male teammates, for instance. He says his measure, HJR 82, is meant to be fair to all high school athletes.
“Some of the female athletes who are stars in their own right were knocked out of competition or the ability to proceed on then ultimately scholarships based on some males being allowed to compete against them,” he says.
On the flip side, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, points to a famous Connecticut lawsuit arguing trans athletes have deprived heterosexual females of titles and scholarships.
“The young cisgender woman who was suing based on a transgender youth that she was competing against actually beat that transgender youth in track just not long ago,” she says.
Representative Tracy McCreery, D- Olivette, says playing sports teaches kids cooperation, team spirit and can keep them out of trouble. She says competition is competition.
“I feel like maybe I’ve done some harm to the guys cross country team from the mid 1980s because I beat every single one of them in cross country,” she says. “And so I feel really bad about that now. I didn’t realize that – wow, I didn’t realize that.”
“It’s a lot more than just whatever the sport that these kids are learning,” Ross fires back. “They’re learning life lessons, frankly by competing within these sports.”
Alissa Johnson of public policy group Concerned Women For America spoke in favor of the proposed ballot measure.
“This isn’t about whether or not people are compassionate,” she says. “I believe this is like Representative Ross said – this is an issue of fairness in sports.”
Brandon Boulware of Kansas City says the resolution would squash his 10-year-old transgender daughter’s spirit.
“All those kids who I feared would tease her – they have embraced her. This is a nonissue for them. This is an issue for adults. It’s not an issue for kids. It will mean my daughter cannot play on her girls volleyball team anymore,” he says. “It will mean my daughter will not have the opportunity that all of us had – to play on a team, to belong to something bigger, greater than ourselves.”
The Missouri Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday about a similar measure, SJR 50, sponsored by Shelbina Republican Cindy O’Laughlin. She chairs the committee.