COLUMBUS, Ohio — The most controversial part of Ohio bills banning transgender girls and women from playing ladies’ high school and college sports— genital exams — will be removed from the legislation, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman said at The City Club of Cleveland this week.
House Bill 151, which the Ohio House amended to include the transgender sports ban shortly before midnight June 1, and Senate Bill 132, which hasn’t yet received a hearing, have provisions that require genital inspections if a player’s sex comes under dispute. The genital inspection provisions have made the national news since they make the bill more invasive than most other GOP-led states’ transgender sports bans.
The bills require doctors to sign statements saying they’ve inspected a player’s internal and external reproductive anatomy. The doctor would also have to sign a statement saying they looked at the participant’s endogenously produced levels of testosterone and an analysis of the participant’s genetic makeup — although those provisions of the bill could be accomplished with a blood test or DNA swab.
Democrats, who oppose the bill in Ohio’s GOP-dominant General Assembly, say that if a player looks a little too masculine, or if a parent is upset that another child gets more playing time, they could question the teammate’s anatomy, which would result in a humiliating and potentially traumatic exam.
But at a Wednesday City Club discussion featuring former U.S. education secretary Betsy DeVos, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman said the provision would be removed from the Senate’s version of the bill.
The topic came up after Katie Paris, founder of Ohio-based Red Wine and Blue, which advocates for political issues important to women in the suburbs, asked about the bill.
“The checks that the speaker was talking about, I am not sure why that’s in the bill,” Huffman, a Lima Republican. “It’s completely unnecessary. All of these tests can be done with a simple DNA swab.”
Huffman said that committee hearings on SB 132 will start in November or December.
While the most controversial part of the bill would be removed, the entire bill leaves a bitter taste for LGBTQ Ohioans, advocates, and high school and college athletic associations that have implemented policies years ago to protect student privacy and ensure fairness. Instead of all-out bans, the associations’ policies require monitoring athletes’ testosterone levels and considering how long she has been medically transitioning.
In Ohio, just one transgender girl is playing high school sports on a ladies’ team this year, a softball player.
If the bill passes, Ohio will join numerous other states in banning transgender girls and women from playing ladies’ sports.
Gov. Mike DeWine said last year that he wasn’t interested in the state regulating transgender athletes, saying the athletic associations have well-vetted policies.