By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
The day after a biological male set a new pool record at the Ivy League women’s swimming championship, a bill that would ban transgendered women from competing against biological women in athletic events in Wyoming cleared a Senate hurdle.
Sen. Wendy Schuler’s “Fairness in Women’s Act” legislation on Friday was approved for introduction by a vote of 25-4, sending it on the Senate Education Committee for review.
In her floor remarks in support of the bill, Schuler, R-Evanston, referenced the accomplishments of Lia Thomas, a transgendered swimmer from Penn State who had competed for three years as a man before competing in women’s events as a transgendered swimmer in her fourth year.
“As a male, Lia Thomas was ranked 462nd in the NCAA. But as a transgender athlete, she’s ranked No. 1 in the NCAA,” Schuler said.
Sixteen of Thomas’ teammates have sent a letter to the Ivy League requesting that she be barred from competing in this week’s championship.
“They knew that fairness and impartial unjust treatment was not possible,” Schuler said.
The senator, who was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympics women’s basketball team, said the purpose of her legislation is to protect women from unfair competition.
“[Men] have innate physiological traits which give them athletic advantages over women. This is the reason we have women’s sports and why we’re not forced to compete against men,” she said.
Although the Wyoming High School Activities Association maintains it has a policy in place which it said would protect women against unfair competition, Schuler said she does not consider it effective.
The policy states “All students should be considered for the opportunity to participate in Wyoming High School Activities Association activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records.”
Ultimately, however, the decision of how a student can compete is up to the school and if a student doesn’t like the decision, it can be appealed.
“A high school male right now could identify as a female at anytime and compete in any female sport with the individual school having to make a decision,” Schuler said.
“To remain fair, we must ensure that only biological females are competing in the female category. We can’t ignore science and biology,” she said.