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Transgender athlete bill heads to Idaho Senate for possible amendments

House Bill 500, which would prevent transgender women from playing women's high school and college sports, moved one step closer to becoming law.
Credit: KTVB
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls

BOISE, Idaho — A bill allowing only biological women to play women's high school and college sports in Idaho is now one step closer to becoming law. 

On Monday, House Bill 500 was sent out of committee to the Senate floor for amendments.

Critics of the bill say it is trans-phobic to prevent trans-women from playing in high school or college women's sports.  

Rep. Barbara Ehardt says this is about fairness in competition.

"We can change our outside appearances, but we don't inherently change who we are physically with the DNA encoded in our bodies," Ehardt said.

The bill was sent to the Senate floor on a party-line vote. Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb did not support the motion.

"There was a lot of broken hearts in that room.  A lot of disappointment.  A lot of concerns," Buckner-Webb said.

Critics of the bill say one of their major concerns is the process outlined in the bill of how an athlete would have to prove their gender if challenged on it.  As it stands, athletes would have to go through a process that could include an exam of internal and external reproductive anatomy.

"No little girl, no young woman should have to have an invasive procedure or analysis done of her anatomy, ever, it shouldn't happen, in order to play sports," Buckner-Webb said.

Ehardt says part of the amending process will make the bill's language more clear and concise, specifically, how someone could challenge someone else's gender.

“To make sure that we, in no way, make people think that somehow there is going to be invasive pelvic exams, that was not the case," Ehardt said.

For Buckner Webb, she hopes her colleagues in the Senate read up on the issue to better understand it.

"We have to be the purveyors of a more broad view of the world in order to be inclusive of all the folks in our state," Buckner-Webb said.

Ehardt says she has no problem at all with people transitioning to the gender they feel suits them. She just wants women's sports to be fair.

"Biological boys will still have the opportunity to compete, they will be able to compete on the side of which they are biologically identified with," Ehardt said.

Buckner-Webb says she thinks House Bill 500 sends the wrong message to the transgender community.

“I think it sends a message that you are less than, we don't value or respect you, we diminish your personhood, and that is an insult to all of us. I don't care where you come from or what you do, there is no one lesser than another," said Buckner-Webb.

Ehardt says she hears the criticism but that this is only about one thing: keeping women’s sports fair.

"We cannot physically compete with men, this is all strictly about sports. I support others in what they want to do, I really do," said Ehardt.

House Bill 500 is expected to be taken up for amendments on the Senate floor in the coming days.

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