Ohio Republicans pass bill enabling ‘verification’ process to enforce transgender sports ban

Republicans in the Ohio state House advanced a bill this week that if implemented would allow for a “verification” process to prevent transgender women and girls from participating in female athletics.

The bill states that if an athlete’s “sex is disputed,” they are required to show a doctor’s statement “indicating the participant’s sex” based on their “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” “normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone” and an “analysis of the participant’s genetic makeup.”

The chamber was originally set to pass a bill to revise Ohio’s teacher residency program, which allows newer teachers to train under more experienced ones, to reduce state control in Ohio schools, according to Cleveland-based ABC affiliate WEWS.

A GOP amendment added language shortly before the final vote late Wednesday. The updated bill, which now includes text from the separate Save Women’s Sports Act, would require schools, state universities and private colleges to establish separate “single-sex” teams for the “male sex” and “female sex.” 

Under current Ohio law, a trans girl or woman must either undergo a year of hormone treatment or demonstrate that they do not have any physical or physiological advantages, WEWS reported.

The bill will now move to the state Senate. WEWS noted that the legislature will not meet again until after its recess in November, with a source telling the outlet the legislation may not advance further.

The move comes as a wide range of states have introduced or passed legislation to require transgender individuals to play on the school sports team of their gender assigned at birth.

The Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank that tracks such legislation, reports that 17 states have implemented laws banning transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

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The bill advanced by the Ohio state House does not detail what would constitute a student’s gender being “in dispute,” and the ABC affiliate reported that technically anyone could face this dispute and need to undergo the verification process.

The Ohio House previously passed a bill last June that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in female sports, but it did not advance through the state Senate.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has pushed back on the idea of the government getting involved and instead has said he would prefer to leave the decision to sports leagues and athletic associations that can best “tailor policies” for their members’ needs, The Associated Press reported.