Republican introduces bill banning trans athletes from competing under their identified gender

By: - May 16, 2023 1:16 pm

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines speaks at a rally for GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon in Brighton, Nov. 4, 2022 | Laina Stebbins

Legislation in Michigan to require awards and results of athletic events be given “consistent with each competitor’s biological sex” was sent to a legislative committee for consideration this week.

A news release from bill sponsor state Rep. Jaime Greene (R-Richmond) said the legislation is meant to protect athletes in the state from being forced to compete against transgender individuals. The release references Riley Gaines, a former NCAA swimmer who gained media attention in 2022 for speaking out against transgender athletes in women’s sports after tying with Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, for fifth place in the women’s 200-meter NCAA championships in 2022. 

“Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports undermines our progress as a society and reduces women to second-class status,” Greene said. “Girls and women in Michigan deserve to have equal opportunities to showcase their talent and compete fairly, and I want to make sure we don’t sideline our girls!”

‘It’s the politicians who want to bully her’: Anti-trans legislation sparks anger, fear 

House Bill 4546 would require rankings, awards and records for sporting events where there are categories by gender to be awarded on the basis of “biological sex.”

Greene’s bill defines biological sex as, “the state of being female or the state of being male, as an innate, objective biological condition determined at the conception of the human being.”

Last session, Republicans introduced legislation banning transgender athletes in girls’ sports, following a trend in more than 20 states. 

House Bill 4546 was sent to the House Government Operations Committee for consideration by the Democratic-majority Legislature that recently passed protection for LGBTQ+ protections under Michigan’s civil rights laws. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in March signed that legislation into law.

Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said Greene’s bill is solely meant to strike fear in the small number of trans athletes who compete in the state and use athletes as political fuel.

“It is not normal for any adult to be this fixated on children’s sports. … All parents want their kids to grow up happy, healthy and free to play sports and this bill would all but ensure that trans kids won’t be afforded that privilege,” Knott said.

Knott said the state has bigger problems than who is playing in what sport, referencing the more than 200 mass shootings in the U.S., the Gun Violence Archive has counted in the United States this year. Lawmakers could be addressing students who go to school without food or chronic underfunding of urban and rural schools, Knott added.

“Instead of addressing these problems, our elected officials are fixated on kids’ sports – an insult to Michiganders who have more pressing issues than who participates in a game of volleyball at their local high school,” Knott said. “The irony here is this: Their focus on high school sports shows that some leaders can’t keep their eye on the ball — spending hours wondering how to regulate high school sports instead of addressing the real issues facing our state.”


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.