The Indiana State Senate heard testimony and debate on HB 1041 Thursday. If passed, it would bar transgender girls from girls’ sports.
“Female athletes deserve fair competition and an even playing field. This bill ensures just that, a fair and equal opportunity to compete for Hoosiers now and in the future,” said State Rep. Michelle Davis (R-Ind) told Indianapolis TV station WTHR. Davis is also the bill’s author. In January, she’d also written a bill that would require information on gender transition related healthcare activities to be sent to the state health department and reported to the state legislature.
The bill passed the Indiana House of Representatives last month with a near party-line vote.
The Associated Press reported that there is growing pushback against the bill.
State Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Ind.), the only out LGBTQ member of the state legislature, spoke out against the bill during a rally earlier on Wednesday.
“Just filing this bill sends a message to our trans kids that you do not belong in our state. And that is so far from the truth,” Ford said, according to the AP. “This bill should just be put into the garbage can where it belongs.”
Evren Elliott, a spokesperson for the Evansville-based Tri-State Alliance (TSA), was among those testifying against the bill on Thursday.
“I wish I could have known other people who were just like me,” Elliott, a Hoosier native, said. “People who I now know have lived and loved and thrived with history and traditions reaching farther back than most of us may know. Because you may say this is just about sports, but it isn’t. This is about a young person’s right to thrive.”
Rally sponsor ACLU of Indiana was one of 70 organizations, including churches and sports teams, and professionals signing an open letter against the bill, pointing out that trans participation in sports has never been found to cause harm while barring them has.
“When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students – including trans people – on the basis of sex,” the letter stated. “Courts recently blocked similar laws from taking effect in Idaho and West Virginia.”
A similar law is also being considered in Kentucky just to the south. Both are part of a national trend of anti-trans laws being considered, usually aimed at trans youth.
The ACLU also called out the Senate for barring any video recording of the public testimony, saying it was a violation of the state’s open doors law.
“What happened at Wednesday night’s hearing not only violates open door laws, but also makes it more difficult for Hoosiers’ to hear from the student athletes, faith leaders, families, organizations, and members of the LGBTQ community who came out to testify against this legislation that appears to violate federal law and the Constitution,” said Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana.
The ACLU said that more than 30 people testified during the four hour hearing.