Michigan bill would ban transgender student athletes from playing on teams associated with gender identity

Michigan is one of more than 20 states introducing a bill

New bill targets Michigan transgender student athletes

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan joined more than 20 states that have recently introduced legislation that would ban high school transgender students athletes from playing on teams associated with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 218 aims to prohibit a transgender boy from playing on a boys team as well as transgender girls playing on girls teams. The bill was introduced by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and co-sponsored by 12 other GOP senators, including Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake).

“You compete with the other athletes of your biology. In these situations and that is what’s fair. What is not fair is having biological boys, taking scholarships and positions and awards,” Runestad said.

READ: Lawmakers can’t cite local examples of trans girls in sports

Erin Knott with Equality Michigan calls the bill harmful and that it adds to the stigma transgender kids face.

“It’s Michigan’s most vulnerable population,” Knott said. “It’s a myth and mistruth that they somehow have a competitive advantage over cisgender students as it relates to sports... Just let them play. That’s what matters most.”

Runestad contends that you can be a supporter of transgender rights yet still object to transgender girls competing on girls teams.

“This is denying women who have tried all their lives for generations to be able to compete and then boys would be able to come in and sweep everything and take that from them,” he said.

However, Knott said there is not an example of high school transgender athletes taking those opportunities.

“You treat the transgender female student as a young woman between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., but then you treat her as if she’s a young man, when it’s time for sports to practice it’s inconsistent,” Knott said.

About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.