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A bill that bars trans female student athletes from competition in Oklahoma advances to full House of Representatives

Gene Gallin

Trans female athletes could soon be barred from competition in Oklahoma.

House Bill 4245 sailed through the House Rules Committee along party lines, 6-2, Thursday afternoon. The language for the measure had snuck onto the committee’s agenda after 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

The so-called “Save Women’s Sports Act” bars trans women who were assigned as male at birth from competing in girls’ or women’s sports. It had been a shell bill - a measure that has no language in it - prior to 9:12 p.m., the evening before.

Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, the bill’s author, said it’s about making sports fair for cisgender female athletes.

“It’s purpose is to preserve and protect the rights of women that they have fought for since the beginning of time,” she said.

Oklahoma City Democrat Mauree Turner is one of the few openly LGBTQ people in the Oklahoma legislature. A member of the rules committee, they said the measure would hurt trans students.

“It says that they’re not welcome to participate in sports with us,” they said. “It says that we don’t want to see them, we don’t want to hear them, we don’t want to participate in things with them.”

Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is also a member of the rules committee. She pointed out that Oklahoma’s high school sports governing body — the OSSAA — reports they’ve had no formal complaints about trans athletes making competition unfair in the last year.

The measure now moves to the full House. A similar bill passed on the House floor late during session last year, but ultimately failed to become law.

Correction: An earlier version of this story improperly characterized the gender of transgender women at birth.

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Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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