– Today, the House Education Committee convened a hearing on House Bill 972
, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, sponsored by five women members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – Reps. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny), Dawn Keefer (York/Cumberland) and Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton/Centre).
The first panel included Dr. Gerald Montano, assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Dr. Gregory Brown, professor of Exercise Science and Phd in Health and Human Performance at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The second panel was Sophia Tellis, a student athlete from Luzerne County, and Evangelino Nascimento, parent of transgender student athlete. The third panel consisted of Lily Williams, a student athlete from Lancaster County, and Beth Seltzer, founder of Save Women’s Sports.
Williams, captain of the Hempfield High School women’s cross country track team, raised some important aspects on the inclusion of biologic males on women’s sports teams that warrant further consideration:
“We don’t have separate teams for every identity because what we feel about gender isn’t relative to sports. We have them because there are two sexes. In fact, advantages like that don’t go away even if they were to take female hormones.
“There are many ways to support everyone. The boys on the track team are perfectly capable of accepting a boy who identifies as a girl, or any other gender, on their team as they did the fall of this past year when this individual ran on the boy’s team.
“If bullying or any other unkind behavior were to occur, there are ways to deal with that. Hempfield has never accepted behavior like that on any team and if that were to happen those boys should be dealt with.
“But ignoring the girls while our rights to privacy and fairness in competition are being violated shouldn’t be acceptable either.”
Dr. Montano said that male adolescents who identify as girls are girls, especially when they receive puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Montano urged that decisions to allow male student’s who identify as girls on girls’ sports teams be made on a case-by-case basis by governing school and sports authorities.
Dr Brown explained that there are biological differences between human males and females, those differences give males an inherent advantage over women, and that those advantages are not erased by gender identification or use of cross sex hormones. He testified that study after scientific study, including six since 2015, show that despite puberty blockers and hormone therapy, a male will always have physical advantages over comparably aged females.
There were differing views from female athletes as well. Sophia Tellis, a high school student soccer player from Luzerne County, said she has no problem with biological males competing against her on the field. Lily Williams, on the other hand, says that she would welcome all biological girls on the girl’s team, and that includes girls who identify as a boy, or any other gender identities like pangender or demigender for that matter.
Gleim has said in the past, "The only people who benefit if HB 972 isn't passed are males. Without HB 972, all girls are harmed, including those who identify differently. Even girls who identify as boys are disadvantaged because the expectation that they should cross over to boy's teams will result in significantly less opportunities for them, too. They won't be able to make most boys teams and even if they do, their playing time and opportunities will be much less than if they continued playing in the girl's division."
“Further discussion of this policy, of which more than 30 states are currently considering, will occur in the Education Committee when we reconvene at the end of September,” Gleim said.
Representative Barbara Gleim, 199th Legislative District
Representative Martina White, 170th Legislative District
Representative Valerie Gaydos, 48th Legislative District
Representative Dawn Keefer, 199th Legislative District
Representative Stephanie Borowicz, 76th Legislative District
Media Contact: Charles Lardner
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