By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
April 22, 2023
North Carolina appears poised to adopt a ban on biological males participating in female sports after the state House and Senate approved competing versions of bills this week that supporters say protect fairness in women’s sports.
By a veto-proof margin of 73-39, the House approved HB 574, which applies to middle schools, high schools and colleges and states that “athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.” A student’s sex, the bill says, “shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
The Senate passed its own bill (SB 631), 29-18, but limited the application to middle schools and high schools. It includes identical language as the House bill about biology and genetics. Each bill is called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”
“It is a bill about fairness and it is a bill about equality and equal opportunity. And it is primarily a bill about safety,” said Rep. Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus), a bill supporter.
Last October in North Carolina, a high-speed volleyball spike by a transgender-identifying Highlands School player injured a female player for Hiwasee Dam High School. The trans player is a biological male who identifies as female. Elsewhere, two high school athletes in Connecticut who are biologically male but who identify as female won a total of 15 state track championships in the female division. Meanwhile, in the college ranks, a biological male, Lia Thomas, won an NCAA Division I national championship last year in the women’s 500-yard freestyle. Thomas identifies as female.
The injured Hiwasee Dam High School athlete, Payton McNabb, spoke out in favor of the bill to House committee members.
“Due to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association policy allowing biological males to compete against biological females, my life has forever been changed,” she said. “I suffered from a concussion and neck injury that to this day, I’m still recovering from. Other injuries I still suffer from today include impaired vision, partial paralysis on my right side, constant headaches as well as anxiety and depression.”
Her “ability to learn, retain and comprehend has also been impaired” and she requires “accommodations at school for testing because of this.”
“Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is dangerous,” McNabb said. Biological males who undergo hormone therapy, Baker said, maintain their physical advantages over biological females.
“It remains an uneven playing field in terms of physical strength, muscle mass, speed — those sorts of many biological factors are unchanged,” Baker said. “And so, for this reason, we want to protect women being able to play. We want to make this fair.”
Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) said the bill is not based on a subjective opinion but is “based on science,” including the difference in muscle mass, skeletal structure and lung capacity of males.
Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines spoke to House committee members in support of the bill. She was a 12-time All-American swimmer who competed against Thomas. She said female swimmers were forced to change clothes in a locker room with Thomas, who still had male genitalia.
“In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX to end unjust sex discrimination in all aspects of education, including athletics,” Gaines said. “Make no mistake about it: By allowing Thomas to displace female athletes in the pool and on the podium, the NCAA intentionally discriminated on the basis of sex. Although they claim to do this in the name of inclusion, their policies in fact excluded female athletes, the very athletes whom Title IX was passed to protect.”
Women who speak out against biological males in female events, she said, are “threatened, intimidated and emotionally blackmailed into submission in silence.”
“I’m certain I speak for more than just myself when I stand before you and share my testimony,” Gaines said. “… I implore you to please pass legislation that preserves women’s athletics opportunities at all levels.”