New Hampshire Senate passes bill to protect girls' sports

Democrats in the Senate dismissed reports of injuries attributed to transgender athletes, with Altschiller describing such claims as a 'preposterous fear-based fantasy.'

On April 5, the New Hampshire Senate witnessed a heated debate over legislation concerning transgender athletes in youth sports. The bill, SB 375, which passed on a 14-10 party-line vote, aims to separate interscholastic and collegiate sports based on an individual’s biological sex. The bill is now under consideration by the New Hampshire House Education Committee. 

State Senator Debra Altschiller, vehemently opposed the legislation characterizing it as an act of violence against transgender youth. “Denying a person’s existence, restricting their access to things because you don’t understand gender identity is violence,” Altshciller said. 

[RELATED: Manhattan’s school board takes a stand on transgender athletes in girls’ sports]

Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican, countered Altschiller’s accusations by pointing to his 2018 vote to include gender identity as a protected class under anti-discrimination law. Bradley cited recent incidents in Massachusetts high school sports, expressing a desire to prevent similar occurrences in New Hampshire. “We should not be celebrating a bearded Massachusetts high school trans athlete that injured three girls,” Bradley stated. “That’s not a celebration. That’s a fact. That’s reality, and we need to deal with reality.” 

Democrats in the Senate dismissed reports of injuries attributed to transgender athletes, with Altschiller describing such claims as a “preposterous fear-based fantasy.” Multiple incidents of girls being injured by transgender athletes have been reported across the country. 18 year old Payton McNabb was struck by a male in a volleyball game and still suffers the consequences. A Swampscott High School female athlete was struck by a male during a field hockey game and suffered an unfortunate injury that could have been prevented by a bill similar to that of SB 375 in New Hampshire.

Both sides of the debate framed arguments around the issue of fairness. Republicans argued that the legislation aimed to protect the opportunities of female athletes who might lose positions to more dominant male competitors. State Senator William Gannon of Sandown emphasized the potential impact on the development of leadership skills among female athletes, stating, “The 11th girl who doesn’t make the team on a 10-man roster or 10-women roster, they’re the ones who are not going to learn the leadership roles. They’re not going to mix, so we are hurting biological females here.”

[RELATED: Wisconsin governor vetoes bill safeguarding female sports, says it ‘threatens’ LGBTQ safety]

Girls are reporting challenges that go beyond making the team roster. Chelsea Mitchel, a track runner, says she has lost championships to transgenders and states “I personally lost four state championships to all New England awards and countless other opportunities because of it.” Another track runner, Alanna Smith, missed the opportunity to compete at the 2019 Outdoor State Open Championship due to competing against two male runners. 

As similar bills are considered across the country, the conversation surrounding this issue is likely to intensify, bringing into focus questions of equality and advocacy for both sides.