Oklahoma House Passes Anti-Trans Sports Bill

by Wyatt Ronan

OKLAHOMA — Today, the Oklahoma House passed Senate Bill 2 — an anti-transgender bill that bans transgender girls and women from participating in sports at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level consistent with their gender identity and requires parents to annually file an affidavit confirming the gender identity of their child.

Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident — in Oklahoma or anywhere else.

The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far more than 234 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, at least 122 directly target transgender people and about half of those (66 bills) would, like SB 2, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

State legislators are deliberately misleading Oklahomans and ignoring science. Transgender girls are girls, and transgender children are children. They deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends. Without a doubt, this discriminatory bill will harm transgender kids. It singles out children who are just trying to learn important skills of teamwork, sportsmanship, and competition in a healthy environment. The Oklahoma state legislature’s decision to advance SB 2 is nothing more than a political sham, and Gov. Stitt must veto this bill. This discriminatory legislation will only invite the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation — including economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

Wide range of businesses and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 70 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students

The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory anti-transgender legislation under consideration on notice that their actions will have repercussions for their states.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty LAw Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

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