By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A bill that would have banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports died late last week in the Wyoming House of Representatives after it failed to win introduction.
The bill passed the Wyoming Senate on Wednesday and was sent to the House for introduction, but it was not introduced by the Friday deadline.
Bill sponsor Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, repeatedly said that the bill was intended to keep biological males from participating in athletic teams or sports designated for women. Schuler, a former Olympic athlete, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday she was disappointed the bill was not introduced in the House.
“There was overwhelming support from the citizens of Wyoming and I appreciate all of the emails, phone calls, and texts,” she said. “I believe that our constituents feel, as I do, that we need to protect women’s and girls sports so that they have a level playing field. If I am back next session, I will certainly take another look at the legislation if the support is still there from our constituents.”
Schuler previously said that men have innate physiological traits that give them athletic advantages over women, which is why separate women’s sports programs were originally created.
The bill moved from the Senate to the House last week, when it won final approval on a vote of 24-5.
Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, one of the five senators to vote against the bill, argued last week that the bill might not even be constitutional. She added decisions on participation in sports should made by local leaders, not the Legislature.
“We, as a society, will continue to balance these interests, and in understanding how to raise our families and to raise our children in this state, we rely on those teachers, coaches, professionals and school boards to navigate these issues as we know they always have,” she said. “Let’s trust them to deal with these children, which they are, in the way that they know how to do.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming has also argued against the bill.
“Trans people belong everywhere in Wyoming, including sports,” the ACLU of Wyoming said last week. “And the Wyoming High School Activities Association already has a policy in place for transgender athletes.
In her testimony, Schuler often cited the story of University of Pennsylvania athlete Lia Thomas who as a male swimmer ranked 462nd in the nation against other males but as a transgender swimmer ranked first in the nation among females.
“He was a very average swimmer,” she said of Thomas. “Then she transitioned to a female and she’s breaking all of these NCAA records.”
The editor of Swimming World magazine on Sunday said Thomas’ records should have an asterisk next to them — like Roger Maris did when Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record but played in more games than Ruth.
“Her name, for historical purposes, must be accompanied by an appropriate symbol, one that denotes a lack of fairness and disrespect for an entire sex,” wrote Editor-In-Chief John Lohn.