Virginia Dems defeat bill that would have protected women's sports

Democrats in the Virginia State Senate recently defeated legislation that would have barred transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports at the high school and collegiate level.

A track and field athlete at a Virginia public university told Campus Reform that she 'would feel more confident as a female athlete' if her competitors did not have 'a significant biological advantage.'

Democrats in the Virginia State Senate defeated legislation on Feb. 16 that would have barred transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.

Republican Delegate Karen Greenhalgh originally introduced HB1387 in Nov. 2022. “My bill, Fairness in Women’s Sports, is intended to protect the right of our girls and young women to fair competition,” Greenhalgh told Campus Reform

“After years of training, to stand at the starting line knowing she cannot win because she is competing against a biological male is not fair competition.”

The bill proposed designating K-12 and collegiate teams as male, female, or co-ed and prohibiting athletes from participating on a team that does not match their biological sex as verified by a medical professional. 

The Republican-controlled State House passed the bill on Feb. 7, according to the Associated Press and bill history. Senate Democrats effectively killed the bill after a 10-5 vote on Feb. 16 to pass by indefinitely in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

[RELATED: A look at 5 transgender college sports controversies]

Narissa Rahaman, the executive director for Equality Virginia, told Campus Reform, “This bill targeted youth. Kids trying to play sports. Kids hoping to live as their authentic selves at school.”

Now, as Virginians head to the polls this fall, rest assured: we won’t forget who stood with us and who threw us under the bus,” she continued. ”To continue this important work, we have to have a pro-equality House of Delegates again and we have to expand our majority in the Senate.”

Greenhalgh, however, argued that allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports is not only a threat to fairness but also poses safety issues. She referenced an incident in which a female high school volleyball player in North Carolina reportedly sustained injuries after a transgender athlete spiked a ball into her face. 

“A biological male is generally taller and strong[er], can jump higher and hit harder,” Greenhalgh wrote. 

“That’s why in women’s volleyball,” she continued, “the net is 7” lower than in men’s volleyball. That’s why we have women’s sports, with rules appropriate to women.”

Greenhalgh also referenced biological men dominating women’s sports in other states, including the two biological men who hold high school women’s track championship titles in Connecticut. 

In a 2022 interview, Gov. Glenn Youngkin similarly discussed fairness for female athletes. “We’re called to love everyone, and we should. But it doesn’t mean we should be unfair,” Youngkin said. “We worked so hard under Title IX to actually bring women’s sports up to parity with men’s sports.”

[RELATED: ‘Unfair’: Female swimmers discuss biological disadvantages compared to Lia Thomas, UPenn’s male swimmer on women’s team]

Campus Reform spoke to a female track and field athlete from one of Virginia’s public universities. Wishing to remain anonymous, she said that she felt disappointed over the bill’s defeat. “The difference between male and female performance is not small,” she said. “In sports, a small difference can mean everything, and often does.”

“I would feel more confident as a female athlete knowing that none of my competitors had a significant biological advantage.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.