Alaska bill would prevent biological males from competing in female sports

An Alaska Senate committee is considering a bill that would keep transgender girls from competing in female sports. Its supporters say it is about protecting the integrity of girls’ sports.

Senate Bill 140, introduced by Republican Sen. Shelley Hughes, had its first hearing before the Senate Education Committee earlier this month. Hughes told the committee transgender girls are bigger and stronger, and therefore hold an unfair advantage over biological females, according to a report from Juneau-based KTOO.

According to the bill, “A student who participates in an athletic team or sport designated female, women, or girls must be female, based on the participant’s biological sex.”

Some critics wonder how the bill can be enforced. “You’d have to examine them. You might be able to test for chromosomes, you might be able to do that,” Sen. Tom Begich, a Democrat, said. “These are all extraordinarily invasive things.”

But supporters argue that determining gender hasn’t been an issue before now in the long history of women’s sports. Christiana Holcomb, part of the legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said of a similar bill in Idaho, “We’ve had women’s sports as a separate category for nearly 50 years and have had no issues being able to determine who and what a woman is. We want to ensure that we protect women based on their sex, so that they have those opportunities Title IX was designed to provide them.

“It only takes one biological male competing in women’s sports to take the state championship title. It only takes three to knock women off the podium altogether.”

And these scenarios are not just hypothetical. In Connecticut’s 2019 state track championships, two biological males took first and second place in the female field. Another notable case in Texas featured an undefeated transgender athlete who took the 6A state wrestling championship from the same biological female two years in a row. 

One female track athlete, Madison Kenyon, now a 19-year-old runner at Idaho State, summed up why these kinds of bills matter: “To step on the field and have it not be fair and to get beat by someone who has advantages that you’ll never have, no matter how hard you train — it’s so frustrating.”

Alaska’s Sen. Hughes believes putting these measures in place would ensure biological females don’t have to face a new, unfair obstacle to state championships and scholarships based on something that’s out of their control. 

“Girls and women should not be robbed of the chance to be selected for a team to win a championship or to be awarded a college scholarship,”  Hughes said.

Public testimony on Alaska’s SB140 begins on Saturday.