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Tennessee bill would require transgender athletes to play as gender assigned as birth

Tennessee considers law on trans athletes

A Tennessee bill that would regulate which teams transgender student-athletes could play on is gaining widespread attention and criticism this week. House Bill 1572, which was introduced by state Representative Bruce Griffey, would penalize schools who don't follow the mandate. 

Under the bill, if any elementary or secondary school willfully or intentionally allows a transgender girl to play on a "girls' team," or a transgender boy to play on a "boy's team" they will be "immediately ineligible to continue to receive public funds of any type from this state or a local government," CBS Nashville affiliate WTVF reports.

Griffey says the bill is not meant to punish or discriminate. It's about fair competitions, he said. However, many critics disagree, including transgender athlete Chris Mosier. 

Mosier, a world-class triathlete, is the first trans man to make a men's U.S. National Team. He his credited with prompting the International Olympic Committee to change its policy and allow other transgender athletes to compete at the Olympics.

Mosier often tweets about transgender and trans athletes' rights. "Trans girls are GIRLS. They are not boys pretending to be girls," he wrote last week. "Grown ups act like they don't remember how miserable ages 12-18 were in terms of confidence, making friends, fitting in & feeling accepted. No one is transitioning in this world for any other reason than survival."

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Mosier tweeted about the Tennessee bill, noting that "Schools could be fined $10,000 for allowing trans students to play as the correct gender." 

He has also raised awareness online about similar bills regarding transgender student athletes in other states, including GeorgiaWashington and Missouri.

Other LGBTQ advocates have also spoken out against the bill. "Some members of the General Assembly have not made an effort to understand that trans youth are a part of our school population and we need to serve and protect them like all students," said Chris Sanders, executive director with the Tennessee Equality Project, WTVF reports.

Sanders called the measure one of the "2020 slate of hate bills," driven by "ignorance, hate and discrimination."

"It is insulting to trans youth, it is an attack on them; their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further," Sanders said. 

Griffey defended his bill, saying "there's no ill will intended toward anyone regarding this legislation."

"What it's simply trying to do is, I think science and experience and just society. We all know that traditionally males generally have bigger hearts, bigger upper body strength, and that can give them a genetic advantage when competing against women in a number of sports," Griffey told WTVF.

If the bill becomes law, it would not only impose a fine of up to $10,000 on any violators, but violators would also have to leave their office and would be ineligible to hold public office, school administration positions, or principal positions for five years, WTVF reports. 

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