By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Immediately after the Legislature ended its budget session, Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, wasn’t certain she’d be running for re-election this year.
But, now after a few days of reflection, she’s decided she wants another term and another chance to present her bill banning transgender women from competing on women’s sports teams to the Wyoming Legislature again.
Schuler, talking to Cowboy State Daily over the weekend, said it was important to her to introduce the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” again next year because a “miscommunication” earlier this month between House and Senate leadership resulted in the bill failing to be introduced in the House despite its solid victory in the Senate.
“This is something that I really have a passion for,” Schuler said of her legislation. “I believe strongly in this and I’m going to try to make this right.”
Last week, Penn State swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgendered female to win a NCAA swimming championship when she won the 500-yard freestyle title.
The photo of the trophy ceremony struck a nerve with Schuler, a former Olympic athlete herself.
“That picture says it all. It shouldn’t happen,” Schuler said. “I feel so bad for the fourth place girl who couldn’t get on the podium because of this inequity.”
Many of the spectators at the event appeared to feel the same way as the crowd was relatively subdued when Thomas’ name was announced at the trophy ceremony.
Further, an Olympian who swims for Virginia Tech criticized the NCAA’s policy of allowing transgendered women to compete against biological women, saying in a letter it cost her a spot in a finals event.
“This is my last college meet ever and I feel frustrated. It feels like that final spot was taken away from me because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete,” Reka Gyorgy wrote.
Schuler said even though the Wyoming High School Activities Association has a policy in place regarding transgendered athletes, it has a loophole. Individual schools can still allow transgendered females, or those who just identify as females, to compete on women’s teams.
“After talking to a number of athletic directors, there was not one of them who was in support of this,” she said. “One said he would quit if he was forced to allow a transgendered athlete to compete against biological females.”
As for the decision for people to transition to another gender, she said “to each their own” but when it comes to competition in female sports, it’s not fair to compete against someone who is “biologically superior to another.”
Schuler said she may have her proposed bill “tweaked” to bring it more in line with laws found in states which have successfully passed similar legislation.
She rejected the idea that the legislation shouldn’t be passed if it could end up in court, noting Idaho’s legislation on the topic got sent to the courts.
“You gotta pass a bill for the right reasons,” she said. “You can’t worry about whether it’s going to get litigated or not.”
Schuler said she was optimistic about passage next year as many of her colleagues in the House, she said, have signaled support.