Tennessee bill targets transgender athletes, requires playing on teams that match birth sex

Tennessee legislators are considering passing a bill mandating that student athletes play on teams that match the sex designated on their birth certificate, a move that LGBTQ advocates have called an “attack on transgender student athletes.”

School districts that do not follow the bill, which was introduced last month, would lose public funding, and public officials who violate it would be fired and ineligible to hold office or a school administrative position for five years. 

State Rep. Bruce Griffey (R), who introduced the bill, told The Hill he has received “overwhelming positive support for the bill.”

Griffey told CNN that it’s a “proactive measure [to] maintain fairness,” particularly for female athletes. He said biological men have “larger hearts” and more upper body strength, giving them an advantage.

“It’s not intended to demean, degrade, or diminish anyone,” Griffey said. “It’s just trying to maintain fairness.”

Advocates have criticized the bill, with Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, calling it an “attack on transgender student athletes.”

“The bill is an attack on transgender student athletes and the extreme penalties for school administrators and school districts are unprecedented,” Sanders told The Hill in a statement. “The provisions about birth certificates will prove unworkable for school districts. This is poorly written, cruel public policy.”