North Carolina GOP closes in on transgender athlete ban

Apr 20, 2023, 12:42 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A prohibition on transgender girls playing on female sports teams in North Carolina schools cleared a second legislative chamber this week when the state Senate approved a bill Thursday.

The passage means the Republican-dominated General Assembly appears poised to work out in the coming weeks a final compromise that would limit athlete participation and send it to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

The House approved a similar bill Wednesday. Legislators who back the competing measures expressed optimism that differences can be hammered out.

“I believe that the Senate sponsors and the House sponsors will be able to work through that,” House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters.

Cooper’s office didn’t respond to an email request for comment on the legislation. The GOP now holds veto-proof majorities in both the Senate and House after a former House Democrat switched parties earlier this month. The margins on this week’s floor votes suggest any Cooper veto could be overridden.

At least 20 other states have imposed similar limits on transgender athletes at the K-12 or collegiate level. Also Thursday, the U.S. House passed a bill to bar federally supported schools and colleges from allowing any athlete whose biological sex assigned at birth was male from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams.

Supporters of North Carolina’s legislation said during the Senate debate that the measure was designed to ensure cisgender girls have fair competitions and to protect their safety.

“We want to protect women’s sports,” said Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican and bill sponsor during debate before the Senate’s 29-18 party-line vote. “We want our women and our girls to be able to compete against each other, and may the best girl or woman win.”

Senate Democrats who opposed to the measure agreed with parents of transgender children and their advocates who said in committee meetings this week that the bill would harm already vulnerable students.

“This bill does nothing to make our schools safer or help our students to succeed,” said Sen. Natalie Murdock, a Durham County Democrat. “Unfortunately, here we go again, waging culture wars with targets on the backs of children.”

Both bills state that “a student’s sex shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” It would apply to sports involving competing high schools and intramurals. The bills contain no information on how the policies would be enforced. Students could sue on allegations that they were harmed by a trans student violating the restrictions.

The House wants to apply the athlete eligibility restrictions to college and university teams as well. The measure also would place athlete eligibility limits on trans boys and cisgender girls, preventing them from playing on teams designated for male athletes if there was no comparable girls’ team, except for wrestling.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association, which runs athletic competitions for over 400 mostly public schools, already has a process by which transgender athletes can play sports based on their gender identities. The association confirmed Thursday that it had received 18 such gender-waiver requests since its policy was instituted before the 2019-20 school year. Sixteen requests have been approved, with 14 of them from cisgender girls requesting to play on boys’ teams, the association said.

Republican leaders ran the measures through committees this week, hearing from female athletes who say they’ve been harmed physically or psychologically by transgender women participating in their sports. That included Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer known for criticizing an NCAA decision allowing transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to compete against her in a women’s championship race.

Three House Democrats joined all Republicans present Wednesday in voting for the measure. The GOP supporters included Rep. Tricia Cotham, of Mecklenburg County, who was a Democrat until her recent party switch. She has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Senate Democrats also warned Thursday that enacting the restrictions could lead to economic blowback from corporations similar to what happened in North Carolina following passage in 2016 of the “ bathroom bill ” involving transgender people. The law was partially repealed in 2017.

“North Carolina will never move past its reputation for anti-transgender discrimination if it continues these legislative attacks on the transgender community,” Cathryn Oakley with the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton, of Cabarrus County, said he didn’t expect a repeat of the financial fallout following the 2016 law if this legislation was enacted, calling the bill “common sense.” Newton also called on the state’s business community to “strengthen its back.”

United States News

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

2 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Semiautomatic firearm ban passes Colorado’s House, heads to Senate

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Democratic-controlled House on Sunday passed a bill that would ban the sale and transfer of semiautomatic firearms, a major step for the legislation after roughly the same bill was swiftly killed by Democrats last year. The bill, which passed on a 35-27 vote, is now on its way to the Democratic-led […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Four people charged in the case of 2 women missing from Oklahoma

Four people were arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping over the weekend in connection with the disappearances of two Oklahoma women. Veronica Butler, 27; and Jilian Kelley, 39, of Hugoton, Kansas, were driving through the Oklahoma panhandle to pick up Butler’s children for a March 30 birthday party in Kansas but never showed up. […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Detectives solve 1968 killing of World War II veteran who became milkman, Florida sheriff says

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — More than five decades after a World War II veteran was slain while working as a milkman in Florida, investigators say they’ve solved the case thanks to two people who came forward after the killer died. Hiram “Ross” Grayam was delivering milk in April 1968 and failed to return home […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Gene Herrick, AP photographer who covered the Korean war and civil rights, dies at 97

RICH CREEK, Va. (AP) — Gene Herrick, a retired Associated Press photographer who covered the Korean War and is known for his iconic images of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the trial of the killers of Emmett Till in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement, died Friday. He was 97. In […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

North Carolina GOP closes in on transgender athlete ban