New Hampshire Senate passes bill to restrict transgender athletes in grades 5-12

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire bill that would ban transgender athletes in grades 5−12 from teams that align with their gender identity is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Republican−led Senate voted 13−10 along party lines Thursday in favor of a bill that would require schools to designate all teams as either girls, boys or coed, with eligibility determined based on students’ birth certificates.

Supporters of the legislation said they wanted to protect girls from being injured by larger and stronger transgender athletes.

“When we talk about fairness and rights, we can’t cover every circumstance. And so in a very narrow way that I think to most of us is very clear, biological boys have an advantage over biological girls,” said Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro. “We’ll never be able to legislate total fairness. But what we can’t do is create rights for one at the expense of another.”

At least 20 states have approved a version of a blanket ban on transgender athletes playing on K−12 and collegiate sports teams statewide, but a Biden administration rule to forbid such outright bans is set to take effect this year after multiple delays and much pushback.

The bans also have been challenged in court: Last month, a federal appeals court blocked West Virginia from enforcing its ban, at least when it comes to one eighth grader on a track and field team. An Ohio judge put on hold on law a ban on both girls scholastic sports participation for transgender girls and gender−affirming medical care for minors.

In New Hampshire, the Senate previously passed a bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating on sports teams at both the high school and college levels. But the House defeated it earlier this month.

Democrats who opposed the bill that passed Thursday said it was based on fear mongering. Sen. Debra Altschiller, a Democrat from Stratham, said there are only five transgender girls in New Hampshire who are athletes.

“Those five girls are not a threat. They are the threatened,” she said. “While this gesture of protection may seem valiant, we say no thank you. If you really want to protect girls, protect the marginalized transgender girls.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has not indicated his position on the bill, and his spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Holly Ramer, The Associated Press

Photo: AP