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A South Carolina House committee has rejected a bill to block transgender athletes from competing in sports based on their gender identity.
The House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill without a recorded vote, likely killing its chances of passage in the Republican-controlled House.
Rep. Micah Caskey (R-West Columbia) asked for the measure to be tabled, and supporters of the bill could not get enough support to take a recorded vote.
Caskey told ABC affiliate WSOC TV that his initial problem with the bill began with its assertion that there are two biological sexes and that the sex of a person is objectively determined by genetics and anatomy at the time of birth — a falsehood belied by the existence of intersex individuals.
“That is a commentary on gender identity, well enough. But a matter of urology, that is just not the case,” Caskey said. “Physiologically, some people as a percentage of the population don’t develop that way.”
Caskey also said supporters failed to show that transgender athletes competing posed a significant problem that required lawmakers in Columbia to solve, rather than leaving it up to the discretion of the South Carolina High School League, which oversees interscholastic sports in the state.
Supporters of the bill claimed it was necessary to protect girls and women from losing playing time or college scholarships if transgender athletes were allowed on their teams. But there have been no complaints of transgender students allegedly taking away opportunities from female athletes thus far in South Carolina.
Opponents of the bill argue that transgender athletes do not have the advantages conservatives claim they do, especially if those athletes are receiving puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care.
“No transgender athlete has ever qualified for the Olympics, despite rules in place for more than a decade,” Chase Glenn with the Alliance for Full Acceptance, told lawmakers at a hearing last month.
State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, an independently-elected Republican, spoke agains the bill at that hearing, saying she supports allowing the South Carolina High School League to consider each case involving a student athlete individually, without interference from the state.
“I know how important athletics is to what we’re trying to do in our public schools across South Carolina,” Spearman said, according to the Post and Courier. “My responsibility as state superintendent is to make sure every child feels protected when they are in school and when they are on the athletic field, and I believe this bill does damage to that.”
South Carolina was one of nearly two dozen states with bills seeking to restrict transgender youth from competing in sports based on their gender identity, or from receiving gender-affirming health care treatments. Mississippi has already passed its own bill barring trans athletes from competing in women’s sports, and South Dakota appears poised to do the same. Idaho passed a similar law last year, but that has been blocked by a federal judge.
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