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Oklahoma House Sends Senate Bill Banning Transgender Athletes From Women's Teams

Matt Trotter

Oklahoma House Republicans approved Monday a bill to ban transgender women and girls from school sports.

Senate Bill 2 requires intercollegiate and school teams in the state be based on biological sex and prohibits males from joining female teams. The measure has been dubbed the "Save Women's Sports Act."

An amendment added Monday requires parents to sign an affidavit each year stating their child's biological sex at birth before they can play.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said if that isn’t government overreach, she doesn’t know what is.

"The party of small government now demands to know what’s in your kid’s pants. Wow," Virgin said.

Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R-Elgin) revived the bill on deadline 10 days ago by changing a school finance measure in committee. Pressed by Democrats on the House floor on her claims she’s interviewed many student-athletes and has heard of many cases of biological males dominating women’s sports, Hasenbeck said she’d done one interview and offered only one example: a 55-year-old transgender woman playing junior college basketball.

"I do not want any person to leave here thinking that the design of this bill is to be cruel or to be mean to a group of children," Hasenbeck said.

Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) said the claim of men deciding to play women’s sports sounds ridiculous because it isn’t happening.

"This is a problem that exists in the minds of folks who just don’t understand the issue and, frankly, choose not to even try to understand," Nichols said.

Since 2015, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association has required transgender girls complete a year of hormone therapy before they compete. That policy matches the NCAA's decade-old policy and has not been used to date.

Democrats raised the possibility of the bill costing Oklahoma millions of dollars. The NCAA's governing board recently raised the possibility of pulling championship events from any state considering anti-transgender bills. Republicans weren’t convinced.

"It seems as though the Democrats are wanting to sell out our women in Oklahoma just for financial gain. I think it’s interesting how the Republican party is the one that’s protecting women in this case, and the Democrats are wanting them to participate against men," said Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy).

The NCAA pulled seven championships from North Carolina in 2016 over an anti-transgender bill. 

SB2 passed the House 73–19. Mounds Rep. Logan Phillips was the only Republican to vote against the bill. Nine lawmakers — eight Republicans and Tulsa Democrat Regina Goodwin — were listed as excused. The measure now goes back to the Senate for consideration.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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