By Caroline Beck, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A bill requiring transgender student athletes to compete on sports teams based on their gender at birth stalled without a vote in a House committee Thursday.
Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, said his “Gender is Real Legislation,” abbreviated GIRL, is not dead, despite no committee member moving to vote on the bill and advance it.
"We’re going to consider it and visit with my colleagues and see (what’s next),” Pringle told Alabama Daily News. He chairs the House State Government Committee, which held a public hearing on the bill Thursday.
Pringle, who is running for the south Alabama congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, has said there is a biological difference between boys and girls and his bill would ensure fair competition.
Carmarion Anderson, the Alabama State Director of the Human Rights Campaign, spoke against House Bill 35 Thursday.
“This bill targets transgender gender non-conforming youth, which is discrimination plain and simple,” Anderson said. “It’s important to emphasize few things: that transgender people are people, and so forth transgender women are women and transgender men are men. HB35 is not only based on a manufactured problem, but it would be invasive and impractical to enforce identifying and separating transgender youth, some of whom may not be out as transgender to their peers or teachers, and who are entitled to privacy.”
The term transgender describes individuals whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth.
Pringle said he’s not trying to discriminate.
“What I’m trying to do is protect young ladies from having to run against athletes that have an unfair advantage, athletes who were born and shaped and matured with the benefit of testosterone in their system, suddenly deciding they want to compete as a female, going out on the track field, and having an unfair advantage due to the testosterone in their system,” Pringle said.
“Transgender students can compete in all athletic abilities, they just have to compete as the gender that’s on their birth certificate."
The Alabama High School Athletic Association already has a policy that says participation in athletics should be determined by the gender on the student-athlete’s birth certificate.
If Pringle’s bill became law, it would go further than the current AHSAA policy. It says a public K-12 school may not participate in, sponsor or provide coaching staff for interscholastic athletic events with any athletic association that permits or allows transgender athletes participating in sports outside of their assigned gender at birth.
The bill goes on to say the state, county or local municipalities cannot use public facilities for “athletic competitions in which any individual who is not a biological male is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for males or any person who is not a biological female is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for females.”
There are exceptions for co-ed sports and events.
House State Government Committee member Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, opposes Pringle’s bill.
“We need to let people be people and enjoy what they do and to have a life,” Hollis said. “That will cut down on a lot of mental illness, that will cut down on the suicide rate. So, we need to stop judging people and let people be who they are.”
Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, said he agrees with Pringle’s bill, but wasn’t sure it had the needed support to advance Thursday.
“I think it’s unfair for the girls who are playing girl sports to play against boys,” Kiel said.
Alabama Daily News reporter Abby Driggers contributed to this report.