A bill that would restrict transgender youths from competing on teams of the gender they identify with was moved out of committee Monday, setting the bill up for a vote in the Alaska State Senate in the coming days.
Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, was moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday and sent to the Senate Rules Committee to await a floor vote.
The bill would require athletes to disclose their gender as listed on their birth certificate, which Hughes likened to eligibility requirements for GPA and other standards athletes face. Critics have said that would violate a students right to privacy.
“I want to make it clear that every student athlete would have at least two options,” Hughes said. “The person could either play on a team with their sex assigned at birth or on a co-ed team, so we’re not banning (transgender students).”
Monday’s meeting featured testimony from Matt Sharp, attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a national conservative legal group, who argued that federal case law had cited biological differences in favor of separating men and women’s sports.
“Sex has long been recognized, both in science and law, as being binary,” Sharp said, noting that intersex individuals — those with sex characteristics that don’t conform to male or female — are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The bill’s advocates said the bill is not an anti-transgender bill, but sought only women’s right to compete separately from men in sports.
The bill was moved out of committee with only one no vote, from Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, the only Democrat on the committee.
“What we have is a bill in search of a problem to solve,” Kiehl said, “We’ve created an instrument so blunt it runs afoul of Alaska’s constitution.”
Kiehl said the bill violated the right to privacy enshrined in the Alaska Constitution and would likely run into conflict with federal law.
Hughes and Sens. Roger Holland, R-Anchorage, the committee chair, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, also voted for the bill. Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, was absent from the committee vote but is listed as a co-sponsor on the bill.
Similar bills have passed in other states. In March, Iowa banned transgender females from participating in high school and college sports and the Associated Press reported in April the Missouri House of Representatives passed a similar bill. According to AP, the issue has become of focus for many Republicans, some of whom have used the issue to attack Republican rivals.
The end of the legislative session is May 17, and if the bill does pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it’s unlikely to make it through the House of Representatives, which is controlled by a largely Democratic bipartisan coalition.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.