ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Legislators in hurry to bar transgender athletes

The quickest and fairest response to Indiana House Bill 1041, which would bar transgender women — those who are biologically male but do not identify as such — from participating in girls’ sports is simple.

Wait until more research tells us how transitioning affects a teenage athlete’s body.

Though the issue of transitioning has been a public discussion since at least the 1960s, medical research is in its infancy. Studies show that reducing testosterone — as would occur in therapy for a male transitioning to a female — reduces hemoglobin, which carries oxygen-rich red blood cells through the body. With less hemoglobin, athletes are slower.

Research is ongoing.

Yet, led by State Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, HB 1041 passed 8-4 out of the House Education Committee on Monday. Davis, who was named in 2012 to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s Silver Anniversary Team, said her legislation is intended to “maintain fairness and equality in female athletics.”

She cited no medical studies, noting only that, during an unspecified year, 275 high school boys ran faster than the lifetime best of world champion sprinter Allyson Felix.

The evidence needs to be stronger than acknowledging that many boys run faster than girls.

During the hearing, the bill received favor from an Idaho state representative whose similar legislation is facing a court challenge. Also, support came from a spokesperson with USA Powerlifting, which is under a one-year suspension from the International Powerlifting Federation for noncompliance with anti-doping mandates.

Charles Powell, an associate professor of urology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, cited an analysis of 24 research articles saying, “Based on the available literature, the values for strength and lean body mass and muscle area in trans-women did decrease but they remained above that of cisgender women even after 36 months of androgen-suppressing therapy.” (Anti-androgen treatment suppresses masculine features.)

Powell’s testimony was critical though showing again that more reviews are necessary — even if to break down the analysis he offered.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana guaranteed it would file a lawsuit against Davis’ bill, so such legislation must be based on solid medical and legal footing.

Yes, the bill does aim to guarantee that biologically-born girls and women receive equal opportunities in sports. It also reeks of oppression to many in the LGBTQ community.

Currently, there is no rampant threat that transgender women will take away spots on girls’ interscholastic teams in Indiana. So there’s time to wait.

All young Hoosiers should be coached along the lines of fair play, not only in sports but in life. Such a building block requires integrity, tolerance and respect by those controlling the rules. And all that takes time.

The Indiana General Assembly might be teaching a valuable lesson in fair play by waiting for more research before legislating transgender involvement in sports.

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