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Proposal allows transgender athletes to compete in Utah high school sports

Posted at 5:47 PM, Nov 17, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — A controversial transgender student-athlete bill is back for a second run in front of Utah Legislators Wednesday.

READ: Transgender youth athletes launch national education campaign

This time, a proposal paves a way for athletes to participate in high school sports.

“I am passionate about preserving fair competition and equal athletic opportunities for all students,” said State Rep. Kera Birkeland (Rep.) of Morgan.

Birkeland got a preliminary endorsement from the Human Services Interim Committee on a 2022 proposal.

It is the reintroduction of a controversial bill banning transgender athletes that died during the final week of the 2021 legislative session.

"If you are transgender and you want to play, let’s create a spot for you to play but let’s make sure you’re committed to this because this is lifelong for these athletes who may be displaced because you joined the team,” said Birkeland.

READ: Transgender weightlifter makes history at Olympics

The new draft allows transgender student athletes to participate in high school sports only after undergoing one year of hormone therapy and legally changed their birth certificate to their transitioned gender.

“We are getting to a position where we can support this bill and we think it will be a real landmark moment for our state,” said Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah law professor representing Equality Utah.

The draft comes after several meetings with coaches, parents and LGBTQ advocates. It has limited support from Equality Utah, the ACLU and the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah.

“I have a lot of hope for this bill. I think there are some things in the bill I would rather not see in this bill,” said Transgender Education Advocates of Utah executive director Candice Metzler.

READ: Texas House passes controversial transgender sports bill

The birth certificate requirement is one of the biggest sticking point for advocacy groups, who argue it brings an unnecessary financial burden.

They also want to see puberty blockers included as hormone therapy, if the requirement has to be included, at all.

“I think we are at point where we are trying to find ways to make sure that trans students can compete in high school sports,” said Metzler.

The legislative proposal is based on the NCAA transgender requirements

The bill still needs to be approved by both legislative branches when the general session begins in January.